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Daring Cooks August 2011: Appam & curry

Posted by Jeanne on August 14, 2011

Mary, who writes the delicious blog Mary Mary Culinary was our August Daring Cooks’ host. Mary chose to show us how delicious South Indian cuisine is! She challenged us to make Appam and another South Indian/Sri Lankan dish to go with the warm flat bread.

Appam is made from rice, yeast and coconut milk. The well-fermented batter is cooked, one bread at a time, on the stovetop. Appam are supposed to come out like a cross between a crepe and a crumpet, with a thin, lacy, crisp edge and a thicker spongy middle.

Mine came out kind of weird, mostly because I fail at follow directions. Instructions I failed to follow are highlighted below in bold.


Makes about 15.  3-4 are enough for one person.


1 1/2 cups raw rice

1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 cup of coconut water or water, room temperature

1 1/2 tablespoons cooked rice (I completely missed this ingredient.  No idea what happened.  Reading comprehension fail).

1/2 teaspoon salt

about 1/2 cup coconut milk


1. Soak the raw rice in 4 to 5 cups of water for 3 hours. (I did overnight).

2. Dissolve the sugar in the coconut water or plain water and add the yeast. Set aside in a warm area for 10-15 minutes, until very frothy.

3. Drain the rice and grind it in a blender with the yeast mixture to make a smooth batter. You can add a bit of extra water if needed, but I did not. Add the cooked rice, and grind/blend to combine well. You can see that it is not completely smooth, but very thick.

4. Pour into a large bowl, cover and leave in a warm place for 8-12 hours. You not only want the mixture to rise and collapse, but to ferment. When it is ready, it will have a slightly sour and distinctly yeasty smell.

FYI:  If you forget to cover it (like I did), the “batter” will solidify into a cement-like rice and yeast cake in the bottom of your bowl.  I had to nearly double the liquid in the next step to get it liquid again.

5. Add the coconut milk and salt, and a bit of water if necessary, so that you have a batter that is just a bit thicker than milk.

The unbearable whiteness of appam batter.

6. Heat your pan over medium heat. Wipe a few drops of oil over it using a paper towel. Stir the batter and pour in 3-4 tablespoons, depending on the size of the pan. Working quickly, hold the handle(s) and give the pan a quick swirl so that the batter comes to the top edge. Swirl once only, as you want the edges to be thin and lacy.

7. Cover the pan and cook for about 2 minutes. Uncover and check. The center should have puffed up a bit, and will be shiny, but dry to the touch. When ready, loosen the edges with a small spatula and serve immediately. These need to be served hot out of the pan.

Another covering fail.  I think this would have helped with some of the cooking difficulties I had, which were mostly that the edges dried out and then they cracked when I was taking them out of the pan.

Anyway, I suck at this but you should really use the blog-checking lines to see how others (WHO CAN READ) made the dish.

The curry recipe I used is based on this one, but changed somewhat based on access to ingredients.

1 TB vegetable or canola oil
3 medium onions, sliced thin
Stems from 3 sprigs fresh cilantro, chopped, plus 1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
1 clove garlic, minced
1-inch piece of ginger, minced
3 potatoes, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
2 bell peppers
2 lbs. chicken breasts, skinned
2 TB hot curry powder (I used Penzey’s brand)
1 tsp garam masala
2 cups coconut milk
Kosher salt

In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat until it is very hot.  Add the garlic, ginger, sliced onion, peppers, and cilantro stems, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the curry powder and garam masala and continue cooking for 6 to 8 minutes until the onion and peppers are very soft, stirring often so that they cook evenly.

When the onions and peppers mixture is soft and has absorbed the spices, add the chicken and stir to coat with spices. When all the chicken has been stirred in, pour one cup of coconut milk over the chicken, add the salt and the potatoes, reduce the heat to medium low, cover and simmer until the chicken is cooked and the potatoes are tender, about 40 minutes.

Remove the cover from the pot and bring the liquid to a boil. Boil for 3 to 5 minutes, until the sauce is thickened. Then add the last cup of coconut milk and the cilantro leaves. Return liquid to a simmer, season to taste with salt, and serve.

The final dish.  The curry was good and the appam were ok – probably would have been better if I had made them properly.  Thanks to Mary for a great challenge and learning experience for me!


5 Responses to “Daring Cooks August 2011: Appam & curry”

  1. Wow – even though you said yours didn’t come out properly, they still look a ton better than mine!!! Well done :o)

  2. andy said

    Even though you call it a fail, I think your appams look great! And really, I wondered what 2 tbsps of cooked rice would really add to the recipe anyway!

  3. Ruth H. said

    I have so ben there with thinking I was following the directions but totally missing something key…! Your appam don’t look as bad as you think they do – I like the crispiness, so I would have enjpyed them! Good luck with the next recipe, hopefully there won’t be any trick instructions!! 🙂

  4. Mary said

    I am okay at reading directions (just okay), but terrible at listening to them, so I can completely sympathize with your experience. Like Andy, I kept wondering if the cooked rice was really necessary, but read that it helped with fermentation. Anyway, I think it all looks great! Thanks for participating!

  5. […] figure this is my chance to redeem myself after the appam incident.  I will follow the directions!  My moo shu will be delicious and photograph […]

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