Sweet Kalathappam – A Traditional Snack Cake From Malabar

Kalathappam
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Kalathappam is a traditional  sweet snack from the Malabar  region.   This traditional recipe seems  ridiculously simple, and  tastes delicious.  It is  also  known  as  “Cooker Cake”  as pressure cookers are the  utensil of choice to bake  this cake in.   Rice and  jaggery   makes  up the  body of  this  cake    with  onions, cardamom, and coconut creating  the  exotic  flavors. The first time I tasted  this  I was  intrigued.  One of  those  dishes  that I had  to  have  the  the  recipe of, not  to mention  that this was the first time I had  seen onions (of any kind) in a  desert.

Often times I get requests for  egg  free  versions of  my bakes.   For all those looking  for  vegan,  eggless, or  gluten  free  desert or  snacks  this is a  must  try.  No guess  work  or  substitutions,  this   recipe  is   a  star on its  own.

The  sweetener is  jaggery, the  raw  evaporated  sugar cane  juice.  If you prefer, you can  make  make  this  recipe  with  sugar and a tablespoon of  molasses, but I  like  the  traditional  dark  jaggery flavors.  You can make  it  using  ghee  or  coconut  oil ,  though  most  cooks  I know  use a  mix  of  both.  Ghee  for  its  high  smoking  point  and  coconut  oil  for  its  flavors.

Making Kalathappam

The  recipe  starts  by soaking  and  grinding   raw  rice. I would  recommend  using  the   raw  rice , as  I have  had  mixed  results  with the  rice  flour. Any of  the  popular   south  Indian  rices  – jeera,  sona Masoori, Kolam  etc – can be  used in this  recipe.  Wash well and  soak the  rice in plenty of  water for 1 hour.  Rise  again  and  drain.

Mix  the  grated  jaggery with  about 1/4 C  water  and  stir  well to  dissolve.  Warm  the mix  a little  to help  dissolve  fully.  Place  the drained  rice,  jaggery water ,  cardamom  seeds,  and  the  cooked  rice in a blender  bowl.  Grind  to a  smooth paste. Once  the  mix  is  partially ground   add a  little  more  water  to help  the  process  along.  Grind  to a smooth paste  and  add  enough water to make  a  batter of  pouring  consistency.  The  goal is  to make a  batter  the  consistency of  Dosa or  Crepe batter.

Add  a  pinch of  salt  and  baking  soda to the  batter  and  pulse a  few  times  to mix  well. Set  aside.

Heat  a  heavy bottomed  pan (like a  cast iron dutch oven) or pressure  cooker  and  add  the oil.    Swirl the pan to  coat  the  sides  with  oil. Slice  the  onions  and   coconut into  thin pieces.   When the  oil is  hot  add  the  coconut  pieces  and  stir  fry for a  minute.  Keep  the  heat on medium high, enough to keep the oil hot  but  not  smoking. Add  the  sliced  onion to this  mix  and stir  fry till  brown.  Remove  half  the  onions  and  coconut  pieces  from the  pan. Keeping  the pan back on hot  stove,  pour  batter in.  The  fried  pieces  rise up.  Sprinkle  the  reserved  pieces on top.   Cover  with the  lid and  cook on high  for 2 minutes.  Lower the  flame  and   cook covered  for  15  minutes .

The  timing  is of  essence.  15  minutes  work  well  if  the  batter covers  the  pan  by about 1″  thickness.  Since  this is  done  on stove  top,  temperature  controls  can  not be  as  fine  tuned  as in  the oven.  The  time  and  temperature  in this   case is  for standard   kitchen  stove  burners.  I would not  recommend  using   the  low (simmer)  burners or  the  high heat (stir fry)  burners  in this  case.  The  lower  output  burners   do not  allow  the  cake  to rise properly  resulting in a  gummy , dense  texture  while  the  high  output  burners  burns  the  bottom easily.  When in  doubt   check  to see  if  the  cake  is  done in 10 minutes.

Kalathappam Slices

Insert a  skewer to the  center of  the  cake  and pull it  back.  If  the  cake is  done  the  skewer  will come  out  clean.  If possible   try to do this   without  opening  the lid.  If  the  cake is not  ready  cook  for  an  extra 3  to 5 minutes over  low  heat.  Remove  from the  stove  and  let  cool in the pan  for  20 minutes.  Transfer to a  serving  dish  slice  and  serve !!

Kalathappm – A vegan Gluten Free Cake From Malabar

Prep Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours

Yield: 6 to 8 Servings

Ingredients

Raw Rice - 200g (1C)
Grated Jaggery - 200 g (1 1/2 C)
Cooked Rice - 1/2 C
Water - 1/4 C
Salt - A Pinch
Baking Soda - A Pinch
Cardamom Seeds- 1/2 Tsp
Coconut Slices - 1/4 C
Pearl Onions - 3 to 4
Ghee/Coconut Oil - 4 Tbsp

Instructions

Wash and soak the rice in plenty of water for hour. Drain.

Mix grated jaggery with 1/4 C water and stir well to dissolve. If needed warm the mix a little to help dissolve the jaggery. Strain and reserve.

Add the drained rice, jaggery water, cooked rice, and the cardamom seeds to a blender bowl and process to a smooth batter. The batter should be of pouring consistency. If needed add up to 1/4 c more water.

When the mix is ground well add a pinch of salt and baking soda and pulse once to mix well.

Slice the pearl onions and coconut fine.

Heat the pressure cooker or a thick bottomed pan over medium high heat .

When hot add 4 tsp oil or ghee (or a mix of both) to it. Once the oil gets hot swirl the pan to coat the sides . Return the pan to heat and add the coconut slices. Fry for a minute or so and add the sliced onions. Stir fry the mix till it browns. Reserve half the onions and coconut . Swirl the pan again.

Keep the heat on high and pour the batter into the pan. The coconut and onion pieces rise up. Sprinkle the reserved pieces on top. Cover the pan with the lid . If using pressure cooker do not close the steam vent (weight).

Keep the heat on high for 2 to 3 minutes.

Reduce to low and cook covered for 15 minutes.

If possible insert a skewer into the cake to check if the Kalathappam is cooked through the steam vent, other wise open the lid and insert the skewer. When cooked through the skewer will come out clean. If needed cook on low for another 5 minutes.

Turn off the heat and let the cake cool in pan for 20 minutes. Transfer into a serving plate.

Notes

  • Use Good quality no sticky raw rice like Basmati, Jeera, Sona Masoori etc
  • The sweetness of jaggery varies, 200g used in this recipes yields a lightly sweet Appam

https://oventales.com/sweet-kalathappam/

The  first  time  I got  this  recipe  was  from a  friend’s mom.  It  took a  few (or  close to 20 !)  trials  and  errors  before I could  get  the   texture right.  But once  you  get  the  proportions  right  it is  pretty much effortless.  A perfect  cake  for those  summer  days  when one does not want to heat up the whole  house  by turning  on the oven .  Here are a  few  tips  to  help you to get  the  texture  right .

  • Use  a heavy bottomed  pan.
  • Do not  skimp on oil,  though  you can  reduce  it  by 25% easily.
  • Use  any good quality  raw  rice except glutenous or  sticky rice.
  • Use a  shallow  pan ,  about 4 to 6 ” in depth  and  no taller.
  • Pour  the  batter into  very hot pan with the  oil  just  below its smoking point.
  • Do not  pour  the  batter  for more  than 1″   thickness.
  • Burners  vary in  heat output. Use a  standard home burner.

Here is  another  recipe  using  very similar ingredients – rice , jaggery , cardamom and  coconut – Nei PayasamNei Payasam Sharkkara Payasam

Kalathappam

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