Aappam is a crepe-like offering which is popular in 2 Southern states of India – Kerala and Tamil Nadu. It is prepared in a small wok and is shaped like a bowl. The edges are thin and crisp and the middle portion is thick and soft.
In Kerala it is typically served with a mildly flavored dish called ‘eshtu’ or Stew. Traditional stew is made with onions and potatoes simmered in coconut milk with just green chillies for heat and flavor.
In southern Tamil Nadu – specifically the Chettinad area – aappam is served with a robust kurma with a gravy made of fresh coconut ground into a paste with a variety of spices and is quite spicy. It can also have vegetables or meats.
Aappam is also found in Srilankan cuisine – I am no authority on its origin 🤷🏻♀️
My mother who has her roots in a cusp of Tamil Nadu and Kerala always made aappam and stew growing up and this has always been the combination I am used to.
Here, I am going to provide her aappam recipe and the simple stew which went with it. I am sure there are many variations of the aappam batter which is unique to each family and has been handed down over generations.
For the aappam – soak equal portions of plain rice and par-boiled rice together overnight. Grind it to a smooth thick paste, add salt and set aside. I usually leave it out in room temperature that day and prepare aappams in the evening. This gives the batter time to rest and also to ferment very lightly.
TIP – If not preparing the same day, put it into the refrigerator and let it thaw out to room temperature on the day of preparation.
Right before preparing the aappams, add a cup of thick coconut milk and mix well. Sprinkle some baking soda on top, lightly mix and the batter is ready.
Here is a neat video of me making the aappams. It is a delight for the kids to watch the ‘bowls’ of aappams slide out of the pans when done!
Moving on to the stew – my mom always made a mixed vegetable stew with potato, cauliflower, carrots, peas, etc. The aromatics were just ginger and green chillies. On the other hand, my mother-in-law, who is from Kerala, made stew with just onions and potatoes and only used green chillies. So let’s mix it up; 😇 its always good to keep both mother and mother-in-law happy 🤪
This stew has just onions, potatoes, and carrots and is flavored with ginger and green chillies. Start cooking the vegetables in half a cup of runny coconut milk + almond milk. This helps reduce the fat content yet keeps the stew rich and creamy. The broth is very mildly flavored; finish it with thick coconut milk so the flavor of coconut milk lingers on.
Stew is the perfect vehicle to dip the aappams in.
Aappam and Stew
- Small wok
- 2 cups Potatoes diced into cubes
- 2 cups Carrots diced into cubes
- 1 Onion cut into pieces
- 1 tbsp Ginger grated
- 5-8 Green Chillies slit
- 2 cups Almond Milk
- 2 cups Coconut Milk
- Start a large pot with just a teaspoon of oil, saute the onions
- Add the ginger, green chillies and give it a spin until aroma emanates; Add the potatoes and carrots
- Add 2 cups almond milk and 1/2 cup of coconut milk
- Keep it to a low boil and put a lid on – cook until vegetables are fork tender
- Add salt to taste, add the remaining coconut milk and bring to a very soft boil
- Stew is ready !