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Credit: Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

Recipe Summary

active:
50 mins
chill:
6 hrs
additional:
10 hrs
total:
16 hrs 50 mins
Servings:
4
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"When Ann Ittoop thinks back to her childhood Easter celebrations, two distinct images come to mind: appams and floral dresses," writes Priya Krishna for Southern Living. "On Sunday morning, the family attended the earliest church service so that, by 9:30, their plates would be full of appams, the spongy interiors of which were soaked in an aromatic chicken curry flavored with coconut milk, curry leaves, and cardamom. Her mom would eat last, insisting on making the appams to order, ladling batter into a bowl-shaped pan and letting it steam into thin domes."

A first-generation Indian American who grew up in North Carolina, Ann Ittoop runs her own food blog, The Familiar Kitchen, where she celebrates both her South Indian heritage and her upbringing in America's South. Appams are a crucial thread in the fabric of Ann Ittoop's childhood Easter celebrations. Thin, lacy-edged appams are made from a fermented rice-and-coconut batter and served with curry.

Krishna reports that Ittoop's mother would mix and ferment the appam batter herself: "Instead of buying canned coconut milk, she cracked open fresh coconuts to press the milk before grating the meat." Just as her mother did, Ittoop prefers to crack open a fresh coconut for these appams, which lends an irreplaceable sweetness to the batter—but if you're not up for the challenge, you can use canned coconut water or simply tap water.

Ingredients

Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Place uncooked rice in a small bowl, and pour in canned coconut water; rice should be submerged. Cover and refrigerate at least 6 hours or up to 12 hours. Drain. (Soaking the rice in coconut water gives it a sweet tang and supports the fermentation process.)

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  • Stir together yeast and ½ teaspoon of the sugar in a small bowl. Add warm water; stir until yeast mixture dissolves. Let stand until yeast is foamy, about 10 minutes. 

  • Meanwhile, place drained rice, coconut milk, grated coconut, cooked rice, ¼ cup tap water, and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar in a blender. Process on low speed, gradually increasing speed to high, until a smooth batter forms, about 1 minute. Batter will feel slightly gritty if you rub it between your fingers.

  • Pour batter into a large bowl, and add yeast mixture. Stir with your hands until combined. The warmth of your hands supports the fermentation process. Cover with a clean kitchen towel; let ferment at warm room temperature or in a turned-off oven for at least 10 hours or up to 12 hours. The batter will have puffed up and will have fermentation holes on top. This is a good sign of fermentation. Stir in salt and, if needed, 1 to 2 tablespoons tap water until mixture is blended and smooth and resembles consistency of thin pancake batter. 

  • Heat a nonstick appam pan, a 10-inch nonstick skillet, or a small nonstick wok over medium for about 1 minute. Remove pan from heat. Pour in about ⅓ cup of the batter, and swirl once in a circular motion. Return pan to heat over medium. Cover and cook, undisturbed, until center of appam looks set and slightly puffed, edges are speckled with bubbles, and bottom is browned and slightly crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove appam. Repeat process with remaining batter. Serve immediately.

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