If you never had Palappam, you are in for for a treat. Imagine crepe like bowls, crispy and lacy on the sides and a bit spongy towards the middle. These are known as Palappam in Kerala while across the ocean in Sri Lanka a similar recipe is used to make Hoppers. Whereas Hoppers are usually topped with eggs Palappams are served plain.
Palappam is made with a fermented rice batter making it a good option for gluten free diets. Traditionally the fermentation is started by using the fresh sap of coconut palms locally known as Kallu or Toddy. Another popular starter is coconut water. Fresh sweet young coconut water is set aside undisturbed. In a couple days the natural yeast take hold and you will notice bubbles appearing. The amount of time it takes for the yeast to establish depends on the ambient temperature and the sugar content of the coconut water. This method has its own unique aroma which is not quite matched by the packaged yeast.
As rice is gluten free a little bit of cooked starch is added to give the pancakes it body and structure. The recipe here uses raw rice flour and coconut milk and just relies on the overnight rise (or 4 hours under warm conditions) to get the fluffy batter.
The first step is making the roux . For this mix in the the sooji / idli rava with 1 C water avoiding lumps . Heat the mix stirring occasionally until it comes to a full boil. This helps the starches to absorb as much moisture as possible. Turn off the heat and set aside to cool . If Sooji or idli rava is not available use double the quantity of rice flour or use 1 C cooked rice mashed with a little water .
Mix 1 tablespoon sugar in 1/4 C warm water (warm to touch – 100 to 110 °F) and sprinkle the yeast on top. Set aside for 5 to 10 minutes. The yeast activates and the mix becomes frothy. Take the rice flour in a mixing bowl, add the yeast mixture and the cooled roux to this. Slowly pour 1 C water and mix to make a fairly thick batter . Cover and set aside to rise overnight. The batter should double in volume. If in a hurry double the yeast and set aside in a warm place to ferment. This will still take about 1 to 2 hours.
The fermented batter should be bubbling well on top. To this add the coconut milk and salt. Mix well. The batter should be medium thick . This is the time to add more sugar if desired. When poured using a ladle the batter should flow down in a stream and not as big dollops. Set aside for 30 minutes to an hour.
The Appa Chatti is a small wok with handle. It usually comes with a fitted lid. If Appa Chatti is not available use a wok with lid. Heat the Appa Chatti over medium flame. Grease the pan well. Once hot wipe off the excess oil . Pour 1 ladle full batter in the center hot pan .
Hold the pan by it handle/s and rotate swiftly to spread the batter on the sides . Cover with a lid and let it cook over medium heat for a minute . Remove the lid to see if it is cooked fully . When cooked the side of the pancake begins to tun golden brown and the center is set.
Remove from the pan and serve hot.
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Happy Cooking !!!