The Last Meal For All Seasons
I have thought about my last meal many times.
- P Terry's double cheese burger with fries and a lemonade.
- Shawarma sandwich with tsaziki and pickled cucmbers.
- Sashimi. Preferrably fatty tuna.
There are many dishes I love, but none as closely comforting as Palappam and Curried Chicken Stew. It is a staple in Kerala during the holidays.
Palappam is made from a fermented batter of uncooked long-grain rice, cooked parboiled rice, grated coconut and activated yeast. The batter is fermented overnight till it rises into a frothy mixture. The batter is then swirled into a concave pan resulting in a fluffy center and laced edges.
My mum worked so hard to soak the rice and prepare the batter the night before, so that they'd be ready to go by the time I awoke. Little me, never understood how much work it truly was.
It was a labor of love and this Christmas, I finally learned how to make it myself! It came after a conversation with my mum who encouraged me to try again, and with the help of my immersion blender, I was motivated to try.
My mom's one advice: Make sure it's the consistency of melted butter.
Here's what my batter looked like. Success!
Sure, the final appam cracked in the middle, and the edges aren't perfect, but I am extremely proud of how they tasted!
And frankly, so was S.
My love for this dish isn't about the flavors as much as it is about the love surrounding it. My mum encouraged me even after having failed at it so many times in the past. This dish is a constant reminder of Saturday mornings at home surrounded by peace, comfort and safety.
It is the best sort of soul food!
Recipe (that worked for me):
- 1 cup of uncooked basmati rice (soaked for at least 30 minutes)
- 1/2 cup of cooked rice (parboiled, if possible)
- 1/4 cup of grated coconut (or unsweetened desiccated coconut)
- 1/2 tsp of activated yeast
- Reserved water from rice as needed
- Palappam pan and cooking spray
- The night before, add your soaked rice, cooked rice, coconut and yeast into a blender with water. Go easy on the water, adding as needed until the rice is finely ground and the batterruns smooth (not watery).
- Place batter into a steel bowl, place into an oven, leaving the oven light on for the night. (This keeps the batter warm, activating the yeast.)
- The next morning, your batter should be froth and risen a bit. Stir and combine it together.
- Heat the pan on medium, pour a ladle full of the batter to the center of the pan. Swirl in a circle, cover the pan, and cook until the center is firm and fluffy (the steam will sizzle when the cake is cooked).
- With a spatula, loosen the cake from the pan and slide onto your plate. Serve while warm.