Appams (Daring Cooks Challenge July 2011)

Appam Egg Hopper with Mint Sambal

Mary, who writes the delicious blog, Mary Mary Culinary was our August Daring Cooks’ host. Mary chose to show us how delicious South Indian cuisine is! She challenged us to make Appam and another South Indian/Sri Lankan dish to go with the warm flat bread.



I’d never heard of Appams but was keen to learn more about this yeasted rice & coconut pancake. Good organizational skills were required for this challenge, it took me a while to get my rice soaking, and then I had forgotten to reserve some cooked rice for this recipe, so I had to do without. I don’t have the best blender (just a mini chopper) so my rice was a bit on the coarse side. However, the grainy batter sizzled away to produce a very thick, crunchy disk of fried rice. It was almost impossible to create a thin pancake that could be rolled.  Despite it’s chunkiness, its sour-dough flavor worked well with my amalgamation of Rick Stein’s Sri Lankan curries (beetroot curry fused with cashew nut curry with a load more vegetables thrown in…)

Egg Hopper Recipe, Rick Stein’s Eastern Odyssey

Flicking through the Eastern Odyssey cookbook I stumbled across a recipe for ‘egg hoppers’ – a breakfast dish eaten in Sri Lanka. This version of Appam uses rice flour instead of grinding up soaked rice, which made this considerably easier! It also required egg in the batter, which helped bind the ingredients together. I used my shiny new non-stick wok, (complete with lid, I won’t digress into the saga we had trying to find a replacement screw for the lid handle – asking for a knob screw in B&Q has never been so embarrassing)


Stir in the egg & coconut milk…

Until you form a creamy batter

Cover & leave to ferment for up to 2 hours. The batter should form bubbles & froth up.

put a ladle of the batter into a hot wok, swirl around & crack an egg over it. Pop the lid on & wait for 2-3mins.

I served my hoppers with mint sambal, a spicy, sour & sharp sauce made with chili, garlic, ginger, onions, coconut, lime & mint.


I made eggless hoppers topped with fruit salad & jam for a more western take on this pancake.

Recipe Source:
Appam: Aparna (a Daring Baker) at My Diverse Kitchen

Mary Mary Culinary’s Notes:
1. In my research on appams, I found that everyone had a very strong opinion about the right way to make them! Some insisted that they remain pure white, while others insisted that the edges had to be brown. Sometimes the batter was very thick, other times it was thin. Some cooks swirled it once, others a number of times. The batter could be made with rice, as in this recipe, or with rice flour, roasted rice flour, all-purpose flour, or even with a mix. I tried them all, and found that rice gave me the best results, as well as being the easiest ingredient to find. I used basmati, but none of the recipes specified a type of rice, so use what you’ve got. What the recipes did have in common was a cooked grain to help with fermentation. It can be cooked rice, as here, or cooked semolina or even bread. Traditionally alcohol was used, but yeast is more common today.
2. All of the ingredients here can easily be found at a store that stocks Indian/Sri Lankan ingredients. If you can’t find fresh curry leaves, they are sometimes available frozen, and even dried. Tamarind can also be found at stores selling Asian ingredients. If you’re not up to grating fresh coconut, look for frozen, as the texture is much better than dried.
3. None of the recipes are tremendously spicy, but there is some chile heat and a great depth of flavor. Reduce the number of cayenne chiles, and remove the seeds and ribs for a less spicy dish.
4. There is a special pan for making appams that looks like a very small wok—about 23 cm (9 inches) in diameter at the top. They make pretty appams, but are not necessary. I have used the 2 small non-stick skillets I have: one is 12 cm (4¾ inches) in diameter and the other is 20 cm (8 inches) in diameter. You may not get as much of the crisp edge, but they will still be very good.

Mandatory Items: The appams, and at least one South Indian/Sri Lankan accompaniment, or more, if you like! You must use the appam recipe in the challenge.

Variations allowed: I have written or linked to a variety of accompaniments. You may choose one (or more) of these, or make another to go with the appam. However, I ask that the accompaniment be a South Indian or Sri Lankan dish, as that’s where appam are most commonly eaten. If you are not sure what to look for, look for Kerala recipes. Typical ingredients are coconut/coconut oil/coconut milk, mustard seeds, curry leaves, turmeric and green chiles. If you are allergic to/can’t stand coconut, both the appam and the eggplant curry can be made with whole milk substituting for the coconut milk. You could try replacing the coconut milk with whole milk or whole milk yogurt in the other recipes too, but I have not tried this, being a coconut fanatic! If you do use yogurt, add it at the end, and do not boil or it will separate.


Preparation time: Soaking the rice: 3 hours
Fermenting the batter: 8-12 hours (8 hours if it’s hot in your kitchen, longer if it’s cooler)
Mixing the batter: a few minutes
Cooking the appam: 2-3 minutes each

Equipment required:
● large bowl for soaking rice and fermenting batter
● blender or wet/dry grinder or mortar and pestal
● sieve
● small ladle
● small frying pan/skillet (preferably non-stick) with a lid
● small heatproof spatula


Servings: Makes about 15. I find 3-4 are enough for a serving

1 ½ cups (360 ml/300 gm/10½ oz) raw rice
1 ½ teaspoons (7½ ml/5 gm) active dry yeast
2 teaspoons (10 ml/9 gm) sugar
½ cup (120 ml) of coconut water or water, room temperature
1 ½ tablespoons (22½ ml/18 gm) cooked rice
½ teaspoon (2½ ml/3 gm) salt
about ½ cup (120 ml) thick coconut milk (from the top of an unshaken can)



1. Soak the raw rice in 4 to 5 cups of water for 3 hours. You can soak it overnight, although I did not try that.
2. Dissolve the sugar in the coconut water or plain water and add the yeast. Set aside in a warm area for 10-15 minutes, until very frothy.

. Drain the rice and grind it in a blender with the yeast mixture to make a smooth batter. You can add a bit of extra water if needed, but I did not. Add the cooked rice, and grind/blend to combine well. You can see that it is not completely smooth, but very thick—that’s about right.

4. Pour into a large bowl, cover and leave in a warm place for 8-12 hours. You not only want the mixture to rise and collapse, but to ferment. When it is ready, it will have a slightly sour and distinctly yeasty smell. Don’t worry–they are mild tasting when cooked!

5. Add the coconut milk and salt, and a bit of water if necessary, so that you have a batter that is just a bit thicker than milk. Notice how it bubbles after you add the coconut milk. I recommend test-cooking one before thinning the batter.

6. Heat your pan over medium heat. Wipe a few drops of oil over it using a paper towel. Stir the batter and pour in 3-4 tablespoons, depending on the size of the pan. Working quickly, hold the handle(s) and give the pan a quick swirl so that the batter comes to the top edge. Swirl once only, as you want the edges to be thin and lacy.

7. Cover the pan and cook for about 2 minutes. Uncover and check. The center should have puffed up a bit, and will be shiny, but dry to the touch. When ready, loosen the edges with a small spatula and serve immediately. These need to be served hot out of the pan.

8. Make another, and another… Here you can see some that were made in regular skillets.

9. I have found that the leftover batter can be refrigerated for a day or 2.


5 responses to “Appams (Daring Cooks Challenge July 2011)

  1. I love egg hoppers with sambol and yours looks fantastic! Your curries sound really good too–I have seen a recipe for a beetroot curry and I can’t wait to try it. Thanks so much for participating this month!

  2. Wow, your appams look really amazing – a fantastical white disc structured with bubbles. Its great that you’ve stuck with this challenge until you perfected it (especially since I know you’re very busy with a million other things). I can confirm that the appam is perfect for breakfast with either savoury or sweet toppings. The sambal was a piquant delight and went really well with the appam.I look forward to more of these!

  3. Well done on this! When my mum makes appam, it’s an absolute mission…I’m not sure you can roll it, usually it’s thicker in the middle and crispier around the edge when you use the right pan.

    The fruit salad and jam combination looks great, definitely have to try it, thanks!

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