Vella appams (which means White bread in malayalam) are a very typical Kerala bread that is eaten in breakfast with any of the following four curries – Egg Curry, Chicken curry, vegetable/potato stew or Kadala curry (black chick peas curry). These appams are round, white, fluffy and soft in the middle with thin and lacy, crispy edges . They are cooked in a typical pan called as ‘appam chatti’ which has a deep center and flat edges thus giving its typical shape.
Growing up in India, vella appam was what my amma used to cook on a regular basis on most weekends – her appams were quite renowned in our small neighborhood with the womenfolk requesting her for demos of the appam making procedure which she would gladly oblige to! Hence my initial unsuccessful attempts at making vellappam in my home in the US were frustrating because I had thought it would be a breeze considering the numerous demos that I had seen from my mom!. But alas, the cold weather was one main culprit among other things and so it took me quite some time to perfect the appams. Finally now I can say that my appams are closer to how my amma’s used to be and I am sure she would be proud of me.
The consistency of the batter is the single most important thing here – the appam batter needs to be very very thick. And only then it will ferment well and turn loose to a pourable consistency.
I also did a video recently. You can watch it here.
Enjoy with any delicious coconut based curry like Egg Curry, chicken curry, vegatable stew or kadala (black chana) curry.!
Trouble shooting tips: If at the end of 8 hours, your batter has not risen at all, then do the following:
1. Check the consistency of the batter- if its too loose (as in watery), then it means that you had added too much water at the beginning. What you can do now is add a little more flour and make it thicker and again keep in a warm place (try warm oven method suggested above) for another 1-2 hours. If it still does not rise, then try #2 below.
2. If #1 did not help or if your batter does not seem too watery, then just add a little club soda or sprite or gingerale (about 2 tbsp ) and proceed to cook the appams.
I use rice flour instead of grinding rice that has been soaked because of the difficulty of grinding rice to the desired fine consistency. But if you want to use rice instead of rice flour, you can do that too. I find no difference in texture or taste of the appams while using rice flour instead of soaked rice. Coconut adds a nice sweet flavor to this pancake but you could also make these without the coconut.
Also I always use warm water to grind all my batter (idli and dosa etc) because of the cold weather in the US so if you are not in a cold place, you can use regular water.