In most of the South India families, father or the head of the family is the decision maker, even in planning the food of the day. Though the mother’s role is silent in decision making, execution is her responsibility. Every evening my mother checks with my father about food for the next day. Whenever he says something Sri Lankan my mother’s face gets overloaded with tons of smile, as she is very convenient in making those. Appam is one of her favourite Sri Lankan recipes.
Appam is a crispy pancake prepared for breakfast or dinner at most of the Sri Lankan and South Indian houses. This is very different from the popular Indian crepe, Dosa though it falls in the dosa category. Unlike the dosa, it is usually prepared with raw rice and coconut milk, and for making the appam normally, we use a small bowl-shaped pan, not the flat pan. The Sri Lankan Appam is small is the size and crispier in the edges and soft in the centre. Sometimes my mother makes fun saying ‘in some of the shops here in Sri Lanka, the vessel which used for storing the batter kept unwashed and used for storing batter again and again for easy fermentation and the crispiness!’.
At our home in Sri Lanka, we make appam only once in a month as it requires a lot of effort. So it is like a celebration for us. The process of making appam usually begins with soaking the raw rice in water. It is powdered consequently and fermented adding salt and sugar to it. Before making the appam, we add enough coconut milk to it and bring it to very thin texture.
This is an easy recipe for beginners and it requires more patience as this process is about making a fine appam batter without any artificial fermentation agents.
- Raw Rice - 400 gm
- Thin Coconut Milk - 1250 ml
- Salt - 02 tablespoons
- Sugar - 04 tablespoons
- Food Soda - 01 tablespoon
- Water - As Required
- Wash and soak raw rice in plain water for 2 hours. After two hours drain the water completely and spread it on a large tray or white cloth and sun-dry it for an hour.
- Powder the rice and sieve it well to get the fine powder. Do the same with the whole batch of rice.
- In a pan add 2 tablespoons of rice flour, sugar & salt. Mix it well and cook it on low flame until it becomes thick like a porridge.
- In a large bowl add the remaining rice flour and the porridge. Knead it well like a soft roti dough adding hot water little by little.
- Once kneaded cover it with a cloth piece and keep it in a warm place for fermentation. This takes at least 10 hours and better to do this during the night. So the next morning the batter would be ready for making appam.
- The next morning dilute the dough adding coconut milk and enough water. The batter should be very thin. Add food soda to the batter and mix it will. Keep it aside for an hour.
- Heat the appam pan on medium flame and apply oil on it.
- Add the ladle of batter to it and immediately spread it by rotating the pan. Cook it well and carefully remove it from the pan.
- Serve the appam with sambal or curry of your choice.
Try to use more coconut milk instead of adding excess water as much as possible. Some prefer making a thick wet batter in the initial stage itself. It's completely a personal choice. You can also ignore the food soda in this recipe if you don't prefer it.