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Kerala rice pancakes (Appams)

Updated: Jul 19, 2022

The first time I remember eating an Appam, and the accompanying ishtoo, was in Cochin as a child. Being very familiar with dosas, I was in immediate love with these soft and fluffy pancakes and have over the years sought them out in restaurants in the US and in India. I was quite intimidated to make this recipe, I realized that there are a number of steps and getting the perfect batter is a challenge. But I trust the recipes for Chandra Padmanabhan completely, so I followed her recipe paying attention to all the details. The recipe is not that hard after all and now I feel so much more comfortable making these more often.

I realize that there are a number of easier recipes out there, a couple were sent to me by friends and neighbors, but I wanted to stick to the original recipe. The appams came out soft and very fluffy, the batter had the beautiful hint of coconut and a subtle sourness from the fermentation. This combination of slightly sweet-sour made this the perfect appam for the ishtoo that accompanied them.

This is a thin volume of amazing recipes by a master chef. This volume rounded up my collection of Chandra Padmanabhan's cookbooks. It is filled with amazing recipes from South India, like this one. Each recipe is absolutely delicious, stays true to the core of the native cuisine and is always a crowd pleaser. I will highly recommend this, and all her other, cookbooks as a must have for South Indian cuisine.

For more recipes from this amazing cookbook, click here.


2 cups rice, preferably a short grain rice

2 tablespoons fresh grated coconut

1 3/4 cups coconut water, plus as needed

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon active dry yeast

Salt, to taste

Special equipment:

Appam pan or panitara pan

Soak the rice is water for 6 hours. Drain the rice and put into a blender with the grated coconut and 1 cup of the coconut water and purée till you have a coarse, granular mix. Remove 2 tablespoons of the coarse mix and continue to blend till you have a very smooth mix. This may take a couple of minutes for the blender to really break up all the rice. Set the batter aside.

With the remaining 1/2 cup of the coconut water, rinse out the blender and add the liquids to the coarsely ground paste and mix in well. Heat this paste on a very low heat and cook, stirring continuously till the mix has achieved a porridge like consistency. Do not heat on a high flame as the mix tends to clump and you will spend a lot of time breaking it up and smoothing it out, yeah that happened to me. Add the cooked mix into the smooth batter and mix in.

Add the sugar, yeast and 1/4 cup coconut water to a small bowl and allow to sit for 7-10 minutes to activate the yeast. You will see the yeast begin to foam. Add this mix into the batter and mix in well. Cover and allow to sit at room temperature for 8-10 hours. You will see lots of tiny bubbles after this period and the batter will smell beautifully fermented. Ferment for longer if needed, it will depend on how warm you kitchen is and the ambient temperatures. You can store the batter in the fridge for about 2-3 days well covered so it does not dry out. The batter should have a thick consistency, similar to that of light cream.

To make the appams, heat the appam pan till very hot. Wipe the pan down with an oiled napkin. Pour 1/4 cup (or less) of the batter into the base of the pan and using both hands swirl the pan around so the batter coats the sides. You want leave a bit of the batter to form a thicker base at the bottom of the pan. Cover and steam for 1-11/2 minutes, you know the appam is cooked if you see small bubbles on the base of the pan. You can remove the appams while they are white, but I prefer to cook them till they are lightly golden and crisped on the edges. Serve immediately. I always make the appams when my guests are at the table so they can enjoy them fresh, they turn soggy if cooked and left sitting.

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