Aappam with thengai paal (sweetened coconut milk) is one of my favourite breakfast dishes. There are very few sweet breakfasts that we make here in Tamil Nadu which is quite sad really but this is one of those stunning few. For those of you who’ve not seen the Aappam, it looks like the Pope’s cap, white in the middle with lacy borders. So in a way, the Pope always reminds me of Aappam. The Aappam is unlike anything else you’ve eaten, it’s soft and spongy in the middle and it thins out gradually to lacy golden filigreed edges. It tastes divine with sweetened coconut milk. The right way to eat these lovely Aappams is to pull apart the Aappam into little pieces, drench them in coconut milk for a good minute or two to let them soak up all that luscious sweetness and then indulge. Pick up a dripping, milk soaked piece of Aappam and pop it into your mouth. Mmmm.. it just melts in your mouth.
Now you could serve Aappam with savoury side dishes as well and those combinations taste good too but Aappam with coconut milk is a true classic. It’s pretty easy to prepare but you’ll have to plan the previous day in order to have the batter ready for the next day just like idli/dosa. Adding Aval/Poha to the batter makes the Aappams even softer. But it’s ok to skip if you don’t have it handy. Aappam with coconut milk is a great breakfast option for toddlers who don’t eat spicy/hot food, like my son who would run for water at the slightest hint of heat (like a vellaikara durai).
Prep time: Soaking 4hrs + Grinding 30 mins + overnight fermenting Cooking time: 1 min or less per aappam Makes 15-18 Aappams
Raw rice (Pachai arisi) – 1 cup Boiled rice (Idli Puzhungal arisi) – 1 cup Fenugreek seeds (Vendhayam) – 1 tsp Whole Urad dal/Black gram dal – a handful Aval/Poha – a handful (optional) Salt – to taste Grated coconut – 2 whole coconuts for the coconut milk Sugar – to taste
1.Rinse both the rice together in 2-3 changes of water till the water runs clear. Soak all the ingredients (except salt) together in water for 3-4 hours.
2.Grind the soaked ingredients in a wet grinder to a smooth batter. Transfer the batter to a container.
3.Add salt to the batter and mix well. Let the batter sit overnight to ferment. Once fermented/risen, refrigerate till use.
4.To make the aapams, you can use any round-bottomed skillet/kadai and not just the aappam kadai, although the aappam kadai is a lot easier to lift and rotate around as it is lighter and has nice handles to hold on to. The batter shouldn’t be too thick. It should be a dosa batter consistency, maybe a little thinner. Grease the kadai very lightly with a cloth rounded up into a ball and slightly dabbed with oil at the very beginning only. Pour about 2 ladles of the batter into the center of the kadai, lift the kadai/skillet, tilt the kadai downwards and rotate so that the batter flows out and around the kadai making a nice round shape that is slightly thicker in the middle and thinner around the edges. Place kadai back on stove and cook covered on medium-high till the edges start turning golden and the edges start lifting up. Remove the aappam from the kadai by holding the edges with your fingers. Serve hot with sweetened coconut milk.
5.To make sweetened coconut milk, grate the coconuts or dice them into small pieces whichever is convenient for you. Grind along with water in a mixie/food processor. Dump the ground contents into a cheesecloth placed over a broad vessel. Twist the cheesecloth around the ground coconut, twist and press to extract the coconut milk. Transfer the ground coconut to the mixer, add some water and grind a second time. Repeat the above process to extract some more coconut milk. Add sugar to taste and stir till the sugar is dissolved. Refrigerate if not using immediately as it tends to spoil left outside.