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Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I grew up in North India and never heard of this item until I got married. My mother-in-law took great pride in showing me how to make this South Indian dish. She used to make this very often when they lived in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). She serves this with coconut chutney and pol sambal (I am going to publish both of these recipes on my blog tomorrow on my next post)

I was quite amazed that how this pancake like item was made in a shallow bowl shaped pan. I was only familiar with Dosa which is now an international South Indian dish and available almost anywhere in the world. Unlike Dosa which is usually cooked on flat griddle, Appam is made in a shallow bowl shaped frying pan and the key ingredients in this dish are rice and coconut milk. Then I found out there are many variation of this in South India and Sri Lanka. Some of them I have listed in the description below.

Once I perfected this recipe, I found this non stick pan here in USA which is perfect for making Appam. I have included the picture of this pain in my recipe album.

This is how my mother-in-law makes it and I pretty much follow her recipe with some variations here and there.


4 cups rice (my mother in law used cream of rice here when she visited us last time and that worked fine, but this time I made them out of rice)

1 can (14 oz) of coconut milk

2 large slices of white bread (I used sour dough bread slices this time)

Salt to taste

1 table spoon sugar


* Soak the rice in water for 8 hours (overnight works great).

* Transfer them in microwavable container and cook (submerged in water) on high power for 4 min.

* Drain all the water and grind soaked and parboiled rice in food processor to fine paste.

* While grinding rice add some coconut milk and bread slices and make a fine paste.

* Transfer the content in a bowl.

* Add rest of the coconut milk, grind some more with hand blender. Dilute the batter with some water if needed to desired consistency, (I have picture of batter with ladle showing how it should be)

* Keep the batter in warm place for about 8 hours for fermentation.

* Add salt and sugar and use a hand blender to mix the batter well.

* Take a bowl shaped shallow frying pan (I prefer nonstick)

* Heat it on stove, and wipe it with paper towel soaked with cooking oil.

* Pour one cup of fermented batter in hot pan and grab the handle of pan and move it around in circular manner so all the batter is evenly distributed in pan making a fine layer. (Do not use spoon to spread it) This was the part that was most fascinating to me, to see how my mother-in-law made this and she did not use non stick pan)

* Turn the heat down to medium and cover the pan, cook it until the edges turn light brown and starts separating from the pan and cook it to desired crispiness.

* You don't have to use any additional oil, because coconut has it own oil, and hence the batter is made with coconut milk, when you make the appam the oil in coconut will prevent it from sticking to pan, but if you desire, you may drizzle some oil around the appam while it is cooking.

* Transfer it to to serving plate and serve hot with Coconut chutney and pol sambal.

Here is little more about Appam:

Appam, Aappam or hoppers, are a type of food in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Sri Lankan cuisine. It is called chitauPitha in Oriya, Paddu or Gulle Eriyappa in Kodava and Appam in Telugu. It is known as (Appa) in Sinhala. It is eaten most frequently for breakfast or dinner.

Appum or aapum - pronunciation varies between regions - is a term equivalent to bread. A bread made of rice batter on a stone griddle is in certain parts of the country called kalappam, where kal means "stone". Another form of appam is "Kallappam", where "kall" (Tamil க‌ள்) means toddy, which is used for fermentation. This type of appam is prepared in an appa kal (mould). Kallappam looks like a pan cake.

Appam especially Neyyappam offered to Hindu deities, found in various old Tamil literatures and texts.

* In a 15th century anthology of Tamil religious songs Tiruppugazh, appam offered to Vinayagar (Lord Ganesh), written by Arunagirinathar, a 15th century Tamil poet.


* Plain Appam are bowl-shaped thin pancakes made from fermented rice flour. They derive their shape from the small Appachatti in which they are cooked. They are fairly bland, and always served with a spicy condiment. These hoppers are made from a batter using rice, yeast, salt and a little sugar. After the mixture has stood for a couple of hours, it can be fried in the appachatti with a little oil. This can be served with coconut milk and sugar (widely in northern Tamil Nadu). In south-central Kerala, it is mostly served with Kadala(Chickpea) curry mutton or vegetable stew or egg roast.

* Egg Appam are the same as plain hoppers, but an egg is broken into the pancake as it cooks.

* Milk Appam have a spoonful of thick coconut milk/coconut cream added to the doughy centre. When cooked, the centre is firm to the touch but remains soft inside and is sweeter as a result of the coconut milk.

* Honey Appam are crispy pancakes cooked with a generous amount of palm treacle. Some people also like to add some jaggery just before serving to make it extra sweet.

* String hopper, or idiyappam , is made from rice noodles curled into flat spirals. It is served for breakfast with a thin fish or chicken curry, containing only one or two pieces of meat, a dhal (lentil) dish, and a spicy sambol or fresh chutney. String hoppers are made from steamed rice flour made into a dough with water and a little salt, and forced through a mould similar to those used for pasta to make the strings. They are cooked by steaming. These hoppers can be bought ready-made. The Indian & Sri Lankan population eats String Hoppers for breakfast or dinner. There are many variations to this, depending on the type of flour used etc. This simple dish can be adapted to more interesting things such as String Hopper Biriyani, by adding scrambled eggs or vegetables. In Tamil Nadu, 'Idiyappam' Paaya(Goat Leg Soup made using Coconut) is very famous.

* Pesaha appam (also called INRI appam or indri appam) is made by Syrian Christians in Kerala during Passover. This type of appam is dipped in syrup before being served.]

* Neyyappam which owes its origins to Tamil Nadu. This is made with rice flour, jaggery, clarified butter ghee. In Kerala Unni appam is a variation in which mashed plantain is added to the batter. The batter made out of rice flour, jaggery and plantain is poured into a vessel called Appakarai or Appakaram, which has ghee heated to a high temperature. The appams take the shape of small cups, and are fried until deep brown. Both neyyappam and unni appam are eaten as snacks. This is festive sweet, made on Gokulashtami - the birthday of Hindu deity, Krishna. It is also a common prasadam in Kerala temples.

The presence of Tamils in Malaysia has over the years led to the popularity of the apam. Appam is the term used for a steamed cup-cake sized dessert made from rice flour that is eaten with shredded fresh coconut. The string hopper (local name: putumayam) is also popular among Malaysians. Sold by street vendors on modified motorbikes, the string hoppers are eaten with grated palm sugar (gula Melaka) and shredded fresh coconut. Malaysian Indians tend to make their own and eat it with either curry or dhal dish.

Recipe source: My dearest mother-in-law Hemlata S.

Photographs by Surekha.

Description source:

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