Appam (non yeast) and Vegetable Stew

Although it has been more than a month since I returned from God's own country, Kerala is present in all my 5 senses , fresh. 
Even now, I can smell the fresh air with a hint of river water fragrance amalgamating the lives beneath and around into one. 
Even now, I can visualise the endless landscapes of river gently folding over a distant island only to peak out in form of blazing sun. 
Even now, I can feel the warmth of ayurvedic oils and scents quick creeping into every fragile nerve in my system. 
Even now, I can hear the chirping birds and the gurgling rivers when the fishes jumped out either in joy or amusement each time we passed by.
Even now, most importantly, I can relish the taste on my palette that demystified all that I had ever thought of the Malyalee cuisine. And this I say in positive connotation. The limits that I had set myself mentally to the extent which food can taste good was broken when I tasted the real authentic cuisine.

My quest for finding good recipes and once found improvising them, took me to the kitchen of our resort. Even on the houseboat ride, I spent about 50% of the time in the boat kitchen, chatting and learning some recipes. So much so that the owner gave me a few packets of his masalas and asked me to try them back home...the only glitch is he gave meat masalas...
And did I tell you that I bought a few Kgs of spices (cardamom, cloves, black pepper etc) , appam chetti, achappam mould, dried herbs, dried chilly papads, banana chips, murukkus, palm jaggery , poppy seeds and many many more much that my husband had to declare at the airport that we are planning to consume food and not resale...To ensure that he thinks it was not a foodie outing I did encourage him to buy me a few silk drapes :), just because he insisted
And about the recipe...although I have made appam umpteem number of times, I wanted to try it again once I returned. I wont say this is the most authentic recipe, because I learnt it from the chef at the resort who hailed from delhi. But he had kept all the visitors happy including me with his version of Kerala Cuisines. So when on the resort activity list, there was cooking activity with chef , I promptly landed outside the restaurant 5 min before time. I was the sole participant for that activity. The chef said, I will teach today "Mumbai's special chat". Imagine my reaction...I got up and told him, that I can teach you that as well, please teach me something from kerala. This led to a big discussions first in english then hindi and gradually malyalee.. The malyalee part was with more zeal and probably the only time, the chef was able to express himself better even though it was not his first, second or third language...which meant that I was not going to learn anything.. I persisted, hanging around as if the last important thing left in my life was learning how to cook from this adamant chef. 
He did not relent, but his assistant chef, had a brilliant idea, he told me that why dont you come tomorrow morning when we do live counters for dosas and omlettes for breakfast. I can easily take request for some special dishes, like you say, you dont eat garlic or onion and I can make a special jain version of stews and also share some tips for appams. You know what I did after that...

2 cups rice flour (fine)
1 tspn freshly grated coconut
1 tspn baking powder
1 tbsp milk
1 tspn sugar
salt to taste
oil to cook
1) Soak the rice flour in milk and some water.
2) Grind the coconut and add it to the rice flour mixture
3) Mix the batter. Add some milk. Mix till you get the consistency of dosa
4) Add sugar and salt and mix again. Let is stand for 20 to 30 min
5) Now add the baking powder and mix well
6) Heat your appam chetti (deep kadhai  nonstick or iron). Wipe it using kitchen towel dabbed in oil
7) Pour a ladle of batter. Gently rotate the batter so that it spread out to the sides of the pan
8) Cover the appam with lid
9) Let it cook for 2 to 3 min.
10) Gently lift and serve

Vegetable stew
1 onion finely chopped
1 cup mixed vegetables (carrot, potatoes, french beans )
1 cup coconut milk extract (thick)
1 cup coconut milk extract (thin)
1 tspn ginger 
2 to 3 cloves
1 inch cinnamon
2 to 3 green cardamom
1 tspn black crushed pepper
1 sprig curry leaves
1 tspn mustard seeds
2-3 red chillies
1 tspn oil
1) Parboil the vegetables and keep them aside
2) Heat oil in a deep pan, add the mustard seeds, curry leaves, asafoetida and red chilli.
3) Next add the onions and ginger, cardamom, cinnamon and cloves. Saute it till onions are slightly pink in color
4) Next add the vegetables and saute for 2 to 3 min.
5) Now add the coconut extract (thick). Do not stir much at this stage. Let it cook on low flame
6) Once the veggies are done, add the thin extract of coconut milk.
7) Mash a few potatoes to give the gravy some strength.
8) Add salt and black pepper

Serve hot with appam

I also made tomato ginger chutney to go along with this to bring some zing. But since that recipe falls in the tamilnadu category you have to wait until we travel there...


Srivalli said…
Pradnya, I enjoyed reading about your trip and experience..though I have traveled in a boat house on a day's trip, missed doing it for overnight..that must surely be a great experience..So nice to know you got your share of goodies..:)..both appam and stew looks so good..
Unknown said…
so nice of the house boat owner to have shared his masalas with you... that feels so good!! and KGs of spices - wow that is so good!!

Aapam and stew looks great!!
Oh they have this cooking activity at all resorts..and it is actually fun, good that you got up and spoke out..a shy person would be learning mumbai chat!
lovely stew and appam combo!
Priya Suresh said…
Wow, wat a fantastic experience,lol at that Mumbai's special chat..haha, i can guess ur reaction here.. So you went back to home with few extra bags then.. Wonderful to know.

Appam and stew mkes a prefect pair.
Nice write-up. Enjoyed reading it. I love the vegetable stew cooked in coconut milk. Goes well with the Appam.
Gayathri Kumar said…
Delicious combination of appam and stew. Loved your trip experiences...
Enjoyed reading your experience,aapam with stew is such a classic and delicious combo..
jayanthi said…
Ha Ha you told you'd teach him mumbai chat! enjoyed reading your post pradnya. i perfectly understand. I too am always after chefs and waiters eagerly looking for recipes or just a rough ingredient list..
Harini R said…
Your travel details brought a smile on my face :) Good pick!
Chef Mireille said…
you had me laughing so far - I can imagine that discussion between you and the chef :)

but I think you made mistake in recipe - you probably meant 2-3 chiles and not 23 chiles !!!!
Pavani said…
Loved reading your experiences Pradnya.. LOL..
I made appam & vegetable stew too :-)
Archana said…
Pradnys lol on the Chef! He must be like a ruffled rooster after what you said to him! Your hubby is so sweet if i so much as try to get a spoon on our trips I hear no end and he allowed to you buy so many things. I am green.
Love the stew and your appam is so beautifully done.Will try your version soon. With poli bai being on leave the family will encourage me to make anything other than poli.
Usha said…
Loved reading your chats with the chef and that was nice of the chef to give you some of the spices. Appam and stew look delicious
Padmajha said…
So nice to read your house boat experience. We foodies go to any lengths to learn new dishes :).And nice stew and aapam btw..

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