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Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Neyyappam ~ Traditional Kerala Snack (Step by Step Pics)

Neyyappam as the name suggests appam made in neyyu aka ghee. This is an age old traditional appam made during important festivities. Olden days festivities included this appam was made when a child attains menarche or post delivery when daughter in laws come back home with baby and few homemade goodies, neyyappam was one of them. Old times neyyappam was made hardly except for these precious occasions,says my grandmom and neyyappam was in high demand as it was purely fried in ghee. Gradually ghee was replaced with oil and neyyappam retained its name the same way. There is a lot of difference in flavor when its fried in oil instead of ghee but today hardly anyone fries these in ghee as all are on calorie check.




Neyyappam and Unniyappam (2 versions) look wise, batter wise is almost made same in many places in Kerala. However there are still many solid differences too if you look close. Neyyapams are real crisp on the outside cover with a crispy side frill(which is very important) whereas unniyappams are very soft in texture with no frills. The inside of the unniyappam is on the softer side and is filled however neyyappams puffs up like puris and is mostly hollow . The shelf life of neyyappam is more whereas banana is added in the batter in unniyappam stays good only for 2 or 3 days. The rice should be three-fourth ground to get the correct consistency of the batter in neyyappam whereas in unniyappam, the batter does need a little thari or slightly coarse rice flour(puttu podi) but the major portion is smooth flour. In unniyappam we definitely add mashed banana or soaked dates to the batter to make appams soft and neyyappams don't use banana.


There are many recipes on internet to make neyyappams but believe me those neyyappams don't taste the same like the traditional ones and taste more similar to unniyappam. Some people do add mashed banana, add baking soda, add maida and so on. But ideally the batter is ground with jaggery syrup and left to ferment for 5-6 hours in summers here and 7-8 hours in a cold climate. I haven't added any leavening agents to soften or ferment the batter and am so happy with the outcome. Neyyappams aren't so easy to master though the batter looks simple. This is my personal experience of getting it right. I got a good neyyappam in my third attempt. the first two were a big flop. The first time I made these appams, the kadai was on the flatter side so the appams didn't puff up. The second time the pan got right but tasted more like unniyappam. Then I just gave up the neyyappam making as nothing worked good. Finally the third time I tried the age old traditional recipe as grand mothers made at home and this time I got these perfect.

The few lessons that I got from making these appams are they aren't that hard to master but may take a few attempts before you actually can gain confidence. There are a multiple factors to remember in making these appams. The very first being the skillet selection, deep iron skillet is preferred to make.Shallow pans don't work good. Secondly the soaking or rice and fermentation of batter is important. Over fermentation  or under fermentation may not give good results. Third the consistency of the batter should be be like dosa batter when ground which will thicken to a idli batter consistency once fermented. The batter should be a little loose than idli batter and fall like ribbon consistency in cakes. There are few more tips that I have shard at the bottom of this page so that you can try out the best in the first attempt itself. Do give it a try and lemme know too !!



Soaking time ~ 4-5 hours
Preparation time ~ 10 minutes
Cooking time ~ 20 minutes
Serves ~ 11-13 neyyappams
Ingredients
to grind
raw rice / pachari 2 cups
jaggery 300 gms or one big ball
salt a pinch

sesame seeds 1 tbsp
ghee 1 tbsp
thenga kothu / coconut bits 1 tbsp
cardamom powder 1/2 tsp (optional)


Method

  • Wash and soak the rice for 4-5 hours. Melt the jaggery in 1/4 cup water and strain impurities. The syrup should be about 1/2 cup now. 
  • Add the rice in the blender jar and add the 1/2 cup jaggery syrup to the rice to grind in batches to a coarse paste. The ground paste should look like it’s 3/4th ground and shouldn’t be ground to a smooth paste (VERY IMPORTANT POINT).
  • Add salt and sesame seeds to this mix. Add cardamom powder if using and give a quick stir.
  • Heat ghee in a pan and fry the coconut bits till lightly brown. Add this to the batter along with ghee.

  • Mix and rest the batter for 5- 6 hours in summers. If you stay or make during winters then 7-8 hours may be needed to ferment. Over fermentation  or under fermentation may not give good results. Over fermented batter drinks up more oil and the batter flows out of shape. Under fermented may yield hard solid rock like appam and will not float in oil once frying.

  • Heat oil in a pan upto  3" deep. Wait till the oil is moderately hot and add a drop of batter in oil to check if the oil is hot. if the batter puffs up and floats on oil then the oil is hot enough to make appams.
  • Pour ladleful of batter to the center of the pan and leave undisturbed. It may take around 1 minute for the appams to puff up and float on top of the oil. Wait patiently for anothe 30 seconds before you actually flip the other side. The bottom side is thick and may take a little longer to cook and the batter may not be cooked properly if you try flipping early.

  • Reduce the heat slightly so that the inside also gets cooked properly by flipping both sides. (Don't reduce the flame too low as it may turn the appams hard).
  • Repeat the same step of frying till you finish making all neyyapams. You can make a total of 11- 13 appams with this amount of batter.
  • Drain on paper towels and the cool completely before storing in air tight containers. Stays good outside at room temperature for 2-3 days.
  • Enjoy with a cup of black tea.


NOTES
* Adding cardamom powder is optional, it adds a flavor.
* The consistency of the batter is important in making neyyapams. Read the tips below to get right neyyappam.
* You can make neyyappam using puttu podi, learn in this link how to make puttu podi at home. Use fresh sieved puttu podi to make neyyappam, don't roast. Store brought puttu podi may not work good as its roasted.

TIPS FOR MAKING A GOOD TRADITIONAL NEYYAPPAM

  • Preferably use a iron kadai or skillet to make these appams. Also the skillet should be on the deeper side to hold shapes. 
  • The coarse batter is ideal for making the neyyappam.
  • The sweetness of the batter should be slightly more than required before leaving for fermentation. Then only the sweetness may turn correct once cooked. The amount of jaggery used here yields a just sweet neyyappam. If you like a moderately sweet appam add more jaggery syrup.
  • The batter shouldn't be over fermented as it will drink more oil and also it won't hold the proper shape and the batter may flow out.
  • The oil should be moderately hot and then only the batter should be poured.
  • Pour a ladle of batter to the center of the pan as soon as the oil is hot. Don't move the oil with spoon until the batter slowly puffs up and floats on top like a poori(may take 1 minute). Wait patiently for another 30 seconds to float and then only flip to the other side. Once puffed the inside cooks faster and can be cooked on medium heat. Don't lower the heat very low as the neyyappams turn hard.
  • Try making one appam each time or else it may not become cook good.
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