Dressed To Cook...
When my husband and I were newly married, on Sundays, we used to have breakfast/brunch at a restaurant, and, shop at Commercial Street or roam around at M.G.Road and Brigade Road. Oh, the nostalgia....
One of the places we used to frequent was an "authentic" Kerala restaurant. One of my favorite items from their breakfast menu was "Vellayappam & Mutta (egg)Roast". (if anyone noticed, I had become an eggitarian from a vegetarian). Vellayappam is a bowl shaped lace-y pancake, typically made in a Vellayappa Chatti, or special skillet. This skillet exists only to make vellayappam.
If I remember correctly, it was the third Sunday of March 2002. And, I don't forget easily. Don't believe me? Ask my sister. Much to her exasperation, I still remind her of the time, when she broke the lovely nail polish bottle I bought home. And I was 15 when the nail-polish-bottle-breaking incident happened. And, now, I am way beyond 15 and I still remember it very very clearly. So, you see, I have an elephantine memory.
Coming back to the third Sunday of March 2002, we were enjoying the beautiful weather (as much as we could from the closed doors and windows of the restaurant), eating our breakfast in peace (as much peace as we could have in a restaurant where the servers were shouting orders for about 200 people) - that's when it happened.
I still do not understand why they had to do it the way they did it. It was not like the restaurant did not have a back door. They could have easily used that door. But, those two men - they decided it was best to use the front door. Those two men, started to bring in the groceries for the day.
First came in a box of onions
"Look honey, they are bringing onions. I wonder how much they would weigh?", I said. My husband just grinned and continued with his breakfast.
Then came tomatoes
"What if they drop the box and all the tomatoes got squished, huh?", I asked. My husband still keeping quiet, pointed to the vellayappam & mutta roast in front of me, directing me to eat.
I ignored his suggestion to eat and went on with my rant "I love cilantro in...". He lost his patience and whispered "sshh! quiet down lady, just eat.".
Bags of rice
I was not ready to be quiet, no, not yet. "Hey... there is small tear in one of the bags... it's leaking rice!", I continued. I could see that my husband was really growing impatient .
A huge box of dressed chickens.
I was quiet. I had FAINTED
I could not eat my breakfast any further. Everything reminded of those chickens, especially the mutta roast. Nothing my husband did or said could console me, convince me to eat any further. We left the restaurant. And that third Sunday of March 2002 was my last visit to that authentic Kerala restaurant.
And thanks to my elephantine memory, that scene is still exceptionally vivid in my mind. 🙁
I started making Vellayappam & Mutta roast at home using my mom-in-laws recipe. Everybody in my family knows (even my 4 year old niece) for a fact, that my mom-in-law makes the best Vellayappam.
My in-laws visited us last summer. When I made vellayappam, mom-in-law enjoyed it. She mentioned that she has stopped making it because she does not get good quality yeast where she lives. And no points for guessing one of the things she took back to India - a huge packet (32 oz)of yeast from Sam's Club. She is now sharing the yeast with every one of her relatives. She is one happy mom-in-law.
(Sorry for the lighting issues in the "floral designed appam" instructions. The motions have to be swift, but gentle. So, we had to use a flash.)
- 3 cups Long Grain Rice
- 1 cup Rice cooked.
- 1 cup Coconut Milk see tip
- 3 tsp Sugar
- 1 tsp Active Dry Yeast see tip
- Salt to taste
- Rinse and soak the long grain rice for 5-6 hours.
- Drain the soaked rice. Using a food processor or mixer-grinder, grind together all the ingredients - soaked rice, cooked rice, coconut milk, active dry yeast, sugar and salt along with with sufficient of water . You might have to grind this in batches if your food processor or mixer-grinder cannot grind the entire quantity together. You would need about 2.5 to 3 cups of water for the entire batter. The batter should be free flowing but not watery.
- Adjust the consistency by adding water, if required. Close air tight and let it ferment overnight.
- When you are ready to use the batter, add another 1-2 tsp of sugar (optional) and mix well.
- Heat the appam chatti/skillet.
- Pour ¼ cup of the batter onto the hot appam chatti/skillet.
- Lift the skillet using both the handles, swirl the batter around in a clock wise direction.
- Close the skillet lid and cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Serve hot. You can serve one of these as an accompaniment to the appam - Vegetable Stew or Egg Curry or Egg Roast.
Tips for Vellayyapam Batter
If you do not have active dry yeast, you will have to proof the yeast first.
Take 1 tsp of yeast, add 1-2 tbsp of lukewarm water (about 80 degree Fahrenheit) and 2 tsp sugar. Let it rest for a few minutes. When the yeast is completely dissolved and all bubbly and frothy, it is ready to use.
You can use any kind of cooked rice. I generally use the leftover rice. I have used both par boiled rice as well basmati rice .
You can use the freshly squeezed thick coconut milk.
If you are using the coconut milk from can, make sure you shake the can well before you open it. You can use the regular or premium variety of canned coconut milk.
Tips for Vellayappam
Generally, the appam served in restaurants have a thicker center and thinner lace-y edges. I prefer the center to be thin as the edges. If you like your appams to have a thick, swirl the batter around the skillet a little less. (Notice the thin center for the "regular appam and thicker center in the floral design)
Making a floral design takes practice. With practice you can get equal sized petals.
The appam chatti/skillet can get very hot. Use small kitchen towels to help you hold the handles when you swirl the skillet.
Do not flip over the appam. If the center is not cooked, keep the lid closed till done.
Floral Design For Vellayappam
This takes a little practice to get it right. You have to have quick motion of wrist/hand to get all the petals equal.
To make a floral design,
Follow the pictorial. You would gently bend (use your wrists) the chatti/skillet in the direction you want the petal to form. Go back and forth in the direction you want the petal in one gentle swift motion.
Bend the skillet, so that the batter flows to the right in a quick motion and bring the batter back to the center.