Blogging Marathon# 39 – Indian States: Day 14
Dish: Appam with Kerala Stew
From Karnataka, we are going a little south to the beautiful state of Kerala. Kerala is known as God’s Own Country because of the beautiful beaches, backwaters, mountain ranges and breathtaking scenic views. It is one of the fastest growing tourist destination in the world.
Kerala is the first state in India to be recognized as a completely literate state. Kerala has a large number of Hindu temples and the temples have unique traditions. We visited some of the temples and hill stations when we visited Kerala years ago; some places I still remember are Cochin, Guruvayur, Trivandrum, Kottayam falls.
Cuisine: Kerala cuisine has both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. Many spices like pepper, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon are cultivated in Kerala and they find a very special place in their cuisine making it richly spicy and special. Coconuts grow in abundance in Kerala and consequently all forms of coconut is widely used in Kerala dishes. Because of the long coastline, numerous rivers and backwater networks, Kerala cuisine has a lot of sea food based dishes.
Sadya is the most famous main course food of Kerala. It is a vegetarian festive meal served on a banana leaf. Sadya is served for occasions like weddings, house-warming ceremony, for birthdays and for regional festivals and most importantly for Onam.
Staple Food: Rice and Cassava.
Specialties: Malabar Biryani, Aviyal, Thoran, Puliserry, Olan, Mooru, Upperi and so on.
Today’s Dish: I have tried a few dishes from Kerala in the past. Making Kerala appam has been on my to-make list for a very long time. So I finally decided to make it for this marathon. It is made with ground rice that is fermented and resulting appams are fluffy and soft. They are served with Kerala stew, chana masala or other gravy side dishes and with sweetened coconut milk.
I postponed making this dish to the first week of March hoping that the weather would get a little warmer and the batter would ferment. But as luck as it, winter this year was especially brutal and decided to stick around until the end of March. It took me almost 2 days to get any sort of action going in the batter, that too after keeping it in warm oven. I started with a recipe that doesn’t use yeast or baking soda, but I ended up adding some baking soda before making them to get nice fluffy appams.
Recipe adapted from Akshus Kitchen:
- Soak rice for about 2~3 hours. Take ½cup of rice out of the soaked rice and keep it aside. Grind the remaining 1½cups of rice, along with the banana, coconut water and some water to a very smooth batter.
- Grind the remaining ½ cup of rice into a coarse powder. Transfer this into a saucepan and rub with your fingers to remove any lumps. Then add 500ml of water and mix well to form a smooth batter. Cook this on medium-low flame stirring constantly, to avoid sticking to the bottom, until rice is cooked and the mixture gets thick, about 12~15 minutes. Remove from the stove and let it cool completely.
- Once the rice mixture is completely cooled, add the previous ground rice batter and mix very well into a smooth batter with no lumps.
- Add the salt, mix well and set aside in a warm place to ferment. It took almost 36 hours for my batter to ferment, even then it didn’t look too frothy to me, so I added a pinch of baking soda just before making the appams.
- To make Appams: Heat an appam achhu or a nonstick pan, pour a ladle of batter and swirl the pan around to coat the bottom evenly. Cover with the lid and cook for about 2 minutes. Bottom of the appam should be cooked through and the top must be dry. Once done remove from the pan and keep the appams warm. Cook only one side of the appam, do not flip and cook the second side.
- Serve hot with a stew or egg curry.
Recipe adapted from Rak’s Kitchen:
- Heat 2tsp oil in a pan; add cinnamon, cloves and cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Next add curry leaves, onions, green chilies, ginger and garlic. Cook on medium low flame until onions turn translucent, make sure that the color of onions doesn’t change.
- Next add potatoes and mixed veggies. Cook for 3~4 minutes, then add the coconut milk and ½cup of water. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat and cook covered until the veggies are tender.
- Season with salt and add the coconut cream. Mix well and cook for 2 more minutes. Serve hot with appams.