Ann Ittoop shares a family-favorite recipe.
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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.