A true Mallu (Keralite) has a strong love for appams. There are many variety of appams such as the pan cooked, lacy, crepe like appams, the circular, spongy, steamed appams and the fried appams. Unniappam is a convenient, traditional snack that kids can carry with them because they are bite sized and very sweet! It is good for the little ones who are active and can burn the calories in no time.
Rice fritters or Unniappam is made in a special frying pan or appam mould that has small depressions to fry the appams. Normally, I make the customary rice, banana and jaggery appams with coconut pieces in them as that is everyone’s favourite. The other day, I watched a recipe in a Tamil cookery program that has mung dhal as another ingredient in appam. I thought it would be a healthy spin on the regular appams.
I tried the recipe according to the directions on TV and it turned out to be very hard with a dense texture and did not form into balls on flipping. So I added mashed banana and left it overnight to ferment. This made it rise and swell and on cooking, gave it a spongy texture.
- 1 cup raw rice
- 1/3 cup split mung/ mung dhal/ lentil
- 1 tsp cardamom powder
- 1 small banana
- a pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup coconut bits/grated
- 1 cup jaggery/ brown palm sugar
- Oil/ghee for frying
- Soak the rice and dhal separately for 6 hours or overnight.
- Grind them together with the mashed banana into a batter that has a pouring consistency .
- Mix all the other ingredients except the oil.
- Pour oil in the appam mould so as to have half the pit filled and heat it. (I mixed oil and ghee to give it extra flavour.)
- When the oil is fuming hot, pour the batter up to the brim of each pit.
- Reduce the heat to medium and cook the appam.
- Turn it using a spoon and the extra batter will flow out to make a convex/rounded outer surface making the appam into a slightly curved ball.
- Cook that side also. (There is no harm in flipping to check if the sides are browned and not burned.)
- Remove each appam with a spoon and after draining the oil, place it on a paper towel, to absorb the excess oil.
If the appam mould is not available, the batter can be deep fried by pouring with a spoon into the hot oil which would yield flattened fritters.
Unniappams come with a hard crust and a spongy inside. These are very oily, deep fried snacks. Not fit for the faint of heart! As the oil sticks to the hand when eating, there is a saying back home, “When a man eats appam, he can groom his mustache too”. Occasionally, if you need an oily boost and crave some comfort food, indulge without a care!