Neyyappam literally means "ghee cake."
Neyyappam is a unique sweet of Kerala and is made in a special utensil known as Appakaral which is a pan with bowl-shaped depressions carved in to it. In the olden days appakarals were made of bronze. Now a days appakarals made of iron and other metals and even non-stick karals are available. The traditional appakarals had 3 depressions and these days karals with 7 and 9 depressions are available
"Neyyappam thinnal rendundu karyam," is a famous malayalam saying which means that you gain twin benefits when you eat neyyappam. What are they? "Appavum thinnam, meniyum minukkam" which means you can enjoy the appam and also shine your body. This is because as neyyappams are fried in ghee the appam is dripping with ghee and after you eat a neyyappam there is so much grease in your hands that your can apply it on your body.
Now for the recipe. Though different people make the dough for neyyappams differently, below is the recipe followed by our family and it gives the softest neyyappams.
Raw rice: 1 cup
Coconut pieces: 1 tbsp.
Cardamom powder: 1tsp.
Ghee for frying the neyyappams
Gingelly (sesame) oil: 3 tsp.
Soak the rice for 2—3 hours and strain through a colander to remove all the water. Grind to a fine powder in a mixer. Sieve to remove any larger particles. Grind once again until all the rice is ground to a fine powder.
Make a syrup of jaggery to jelly consistency. Switch off the stove. Add cardamom powder and coconut pieces and add the ground rice flour while mixing the dough continuously. Keep the dough covered for a day. (This dough will keep good for upto a week).
The next day mix the dough well adding a little water to get a pouring consistency (as thick as idly dough). Heat the appakaral and add a tsp of gingelly oil (ghee tends to stick to the bottom of the karal) and top with ghee. When the ghee is very hot ladle out spoonfuls of dough into each depression. When the neyyappams are cooked on one side (appams will start turning on its own) turn them with a skewer. When they are done (the skewer should come clean when inserted) remove them using the skewer. Repeat.
Offer neyvedyams to Lord Shiva and enjoy the prasadams with family and friends.