In every Christian home in Kerala, on the day before Christmas and Easter, women busy themselves with the prep work for a scrumptious breakfast of palappam and chicken stew for the D day. What better way to kick start the celebrations than with these soft rice appams surrounded by a beautiful 'lace' and a rich and creamy stew. Palappam and stew is also served for tea during special gatherings and as the first course for lunch/dinner. I especially remember the appam and stew served at my father's home on the morning of my cousins' marriages. The stew would be ladled over the appam, and while the 'lace' is supposed to be crisp, I love the way the stew makes it soggy.
2 cups rice
2 tbsp cooked rice
1 tsp yeast
1 tsp sugar
3 cups coconut milk, made from half a grated coconut
½ cup lukewarm water
1. Soak the rice in water for 4-5 hours.
2. Grind the soaked rice, cooked rice, and coconut milk together.
3. Combine yeast, sugar and lukewarm water in a bowl, cover and stand in a warm place for about 10 minutes or until the mixture is frothy.
4. Mix the yeast mixture long with the ground rice, and let it ferment for around eight hours. The batter should be ready now. If the batter is too thick, you can add some more coconut milk, or warmed milk.
5. Heat the palappa chatti. A palappa chatti is a metal vessel used to make palappams, and resembles a small wok. If not using a nonstick pan, apply some oil on the chatti so that the palappams do not stick to it.
6. Pour some batter (around 6 tbsps) onto the centre of the chatti, and swirl the chatti around once. Swirling creates the lace of the palappam, and the remainder of the batter settles in the centre to form the soft mound. Cover and cook for 3-4 minutes, till the centre is completely cooked. Once the first palappam is done, you can adjust the heat to make perfect lacy appams.
7. Remove and serve hot.
1 kg chicken, cut into medium pieces and cleaned
1 tsp pepper corns, 4 cardamoms, 4-5 cloves, 1 inch piece cinnamon, 2 tbsp fennel seeds,
2 medium onions, sliced into thin long slices
1 carrot, cubed
2 potatoes, cubed
1 inch piece of ginger, julienned
6 cloves garlic, julienned
4-5 green chilies, slit lengthwise
1½ tsp vinegar
1 cup thick coconut milk
2-3 cups thin coconut milk
1 tsp cornflour
4 tbsps Coconut oil
a few curry leaves
Salt, to taste
1. Heat oil in a vessel large enough to hold the chicken.
2. Splutter black pepper, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and fennel seeds in this order. Make sure the spices do not burn or you would have to start fresh.
3. Saute the ginger, garlic for a few seconds. Then saute the onions till they are tender. Toss in the carrot and potatoes, and after a couple of minutes, add the chicken pieces, and half the curry leaves. Mix everything together and add salt.
4. Pour in the thin coconut milk, so that the chicken is completely covered with milk. Cover and cook, stirring once in a while, till the chicken is completely done. Adjust seasoning.
5. Stir the cornflour into the thick coconut milk. Once chicken is completely cooked, add the coconut milk and heat till the gravy just begins to boil. Remove from heat.
6. Add the remaining curry leaves. After about 10 minutes, add vinegar and mix well.
You can add a handful or raisins and cashewnuts to the stew along with the potatoes and carrots.
A quarter cup of fresh cream added along with the coconut milk makes the stew even yummier.
Enjoy your hot appam and creamy stew.