Quick Cook Appam and Kerala Vegetable Ishtu – Rice Flour Crepes with Vegetable Stew

Serves 4

I like all kinds of appams, but my favourite has to be the kind that requires no overnight soaking or fermenting and this appam recipe delivers exactly what I like.  It cooks up in as little as 2 hours from start to finish.  That’s it!  It takes a minute to prep, 1 ½ to 2 hours to ferment and a couple of minutes to cook up.  It’s that easy and that fast.  The Kerala Vegetable Ishtu is savoury and light and packs a nutritious punch of mixed vegetables, coconut milk and lime juice.  It’s the perfect complement to these quick cook appams.  Pictorial guide below so let’s get started.

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Quick Cook Appam and Kerala Vegetable Ishtu (Stew) – Recipe

Ingredients:

For Appams:

  • 2 cups raw rice flour, red or white
  • ¾ cup cooked rice, red or white
  • 1 ½ cups full cream coconut milk (I used can coconut milk)
  • ½ cup warm water and ¼ cup warm water
  • 2 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • ½ tsp. salt

For Kerala Vegetable Ishtu:

  • 1 Tbsp. oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, sliced thin
  • 1” piece ginger, minced
  • 4 green chilies, sliced thin
  • 1 sprig curry leaves, stem removed and sliced thin
  • ¼ tsp. mustard seeds
  • Salt to taste
  • ½ tsp. ground black pepper or to taste
  • 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables (I used carrots, peas, corn off the cob and beans)
  • 2 potatoes skin removed, cut into 8ths (or just slightly larger than the size of the mixed vegetables) and boiled until tender (5 – 10 minutes)
  • 1 handful baby spinach, washed
  • 2 cups coconut milk (I used canned coconut milk)
  • ½ cup water
  • Dash of cardamom powder
  • ½ lime, juiced, and more to serve

Instructions:

For Appams:

  1. To make appam batter:  in a small bowl combine ¼ cup warm water, 1 Tbsp. sugar and the yeast, cover and set aside.
  2. In a blender, pulse all the other ingredients under Appam (except the salt) a couple of times until just incorporated, but not completely pureed.
  3. Pour into a large pot, add the yeast mixture and mix well.
  4. Cover and carefully place in your oven (turned off) with the light on for 1 ½ – 2 hours depending on the climate you live in.  If you live in the tropics with high humidity it will take less time to ferment than in a colder climate
  5. To cook appams:  the appam batter should now be frothy and nearly doubled in volume.  Stir it until it is once again smooth, add salt and mix well.  Taste test and adjust salt and sugar as necessary.  The batter should be pourable, resemble thick crepe batter and should coat the back of a ¼ cup ladle.  If batter is too thick add a little bit of water until right consistency is achieved and if batter is too thin add a little bit of rice flour until it starts to thicken.
  6. Heat a small wok, sauce pan or an appam chatti over medium heat, brush margarine or butter until surface is coated well (if it is not non-stick), lift pan with one hand, pour a ladle full (about ¼ cup) of batter with the other and swirl pan around in a circular motion until sides of the pan are coated in a thin layer of the batter and the remainder of the batter settles in the centre.
  7. Place back on the stove, cover with a lid and cook for 1 ½ minutes.  Uncover and remove to plate.  Appams should slide out quite easily.

For Kerala Vegetable Ishtu:

  1. To make the Kerala Vegetable Ishtu:  while the appam batter is fermenting, prep your Ishtu ingredients.  Heat oil in a large, heavy bottom non-stick pan over medium-high and add the mustard seeds.
  2. Once they start to crackle, add in the onions, ginger, green chilies and curry leaves, season with salt and pepper and sauté until onions start to soften.
  3. Add the mixed vegetables and continue to sauté for 2 – 3 minutes.
  4. Pour in 1 cup of coconut milk and the water and bring to a boil.
  5. Turn heat to medium, add the potatoes and baby spinach, stir and cook until the ishtu starts to simmer, 1 minute.
  6. Add in the remaining 1 cup of coconut milk, cardamom powder and cook or another minute.  Add lime juice and stir to combine.  Taste test and season with more salt and pepper if required.  The ishtu should be white, savoury, slightly tangy, a little spicy and fragrant.  Keep warm until ready to serve.

Instructions and Picture Guide:

For Appam Batter:

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1. To make Appams:  in a small bowl combine ¼ cup warm water, 1 Tbsp. sugar and the yeast, cover and set aside.

20140505_125720 20140505_130014 20140505_130131 20140505_130201 20140505_130234

2. In a blender, pulse all the other ingredients under Appam (except the salt) a couple of times until just incorporated, but not completely pureed.

3. Pour into a large pot, add the yeast mixture and mix well.

4. Cover and carefully place in your oven (turned off) with the light on for 1 ½ – 2 hours depending on the climate you live in.  If you live in the tropics with high humidity it will take less time to ferment than in a colder climate.

For Kerala Vegetable Ishtu:

20140505_132606

20140505_135400 20140505_135435 20140505_135644 20140505_135944 20140505_140457

1. To make the Kerala Vegetable Ishtu:  while the appam batter is fermenting, prep your Ishtu ingredients.  Heat oil in a large, heavy bottom non-stick pan over medium-high and add the mustard seeds.

2. Once they start to crackle, add in the onions, ginger, green chilies and curry leaves, season with salt and pepper and sauté until onions start to soften.

3. Add the mixed vegetables and continue to sauté for 2 – 3 minutes.

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4. Pour in 1 cup of coconut milk and the water and bring to a boil.

5. Turn heat to medium, add the potatoes and baby spinach, stir and cook until the ishtu starts to simmer, 1 minute.

6. Add in the remaining 1 cup of coconut milk, cardamom powder and cook or another minute.  Add lime juice and stir to combine.  Taste test and season with more salt and pepper if required.  The ishtu should be white, savoury, slightly tangy, a little spicy and fragrant.  Keep warm until ready to serve.

For Cooking Appams:

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20140208_095049 20140208_094441 20140208_094449 20140208_094455 20140505_150253

1. To cook Appams:  the appam batter should now be frothy and nearly doubled in volume.  Stir it until it is once again smooth, add salt and mix well.  Taste test and adjust salt and sugar as necessary.  The batter should be pourable, resemble thick crepe batter and should coat the back of a ¼ cup ladle.  If batter is too thick add a little bit of water until right consistency is achieved and if batter is too thin add a little bit of rice flour until it starts to thicken.

2. Heat a small wok, sauce pan or an appam chatti over medium heat, brush margarine or butter until surface is coated well (if it is not non-stick), lift pan with one hand, pour a ladle full (about ¼ cup) of batter with the other and swirl pan around in a circular motion until sides of the pan are coated in a thin layer of the batter and the remainder of the batter settles in the centre.

3. Place back on the stove, cover with a lid and cook for 1 ½ minutes.  Uncover and remove to plate.  Appams should slide out quite easily.

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Appam should look like a small bowl or plate with a flat, soft centre and sides that are curved inward, crisp and lacy.  Serve these delicious Quick Cook Appams with a side of Kerala Vegetable Ishtu for a healthy and tasty meal.  If you want a sweet version of appam check out the Appam with Condensed Coconut Milk recipe.

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