Sunday, August 14, 2011


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blog check in line:  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 

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.

     I love living in a small-ish town, but it does have its down side.  One of the most frustrating things is the lack of ethnic ingredients.  some of the time I am lucky enough to find the ingredients in Spokane, but unfortunately this was not the case for the August challenge.  Thankfully it was only the ingredients for a curry dish that I struggled with and not the appam.  I did to a version of beef curry, but I know, from looking at other curry recipes, that without the curry leaves it was not a true curry dish.  Curry leaves are supposed to give a bold flavor that is not to be confused with curry powder.  Much of my research shows that curry powder was created by the British... go figure.  I just always figured curry powder equaled Indian cuisine!

    I know that the next time I venture into Seattle I will be able to find curry leaves but who knows when that will be.  Until then, I will have to stick with the beef curry recipe I found that didn't use the leaves. 

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.
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.
3. 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!
after the mixture has been set over-night
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.I recommend test-cooking one before thinning the batter.  I had to add quite a bit of extra liquid, but others had to add little, to no extra liquid.
the coconut milk, unshaken
 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.

Beef Curry
adapted from food and wine magazine

3 tablespoons cooking oil
1 onion, diced
1 tablespoon minced ginger
2 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
1 1/2 pounds sirloin steak, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup coconut milk


  1. In a large frying pan, heat the oil over moderate heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the coriander, cumin, red-pepper flakes, turmeric, salt, and water. Add the paste to the onion and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  3. Add the meat to the pan and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Raise the heat to moderately high and cook to your taste, stirring, about 2 minutes longer for medium rare.  Add the coconut milk and stir in the cilantro.
  4. Serve over rice or with appam.


  1. That beef curry looks luscious, and your appams are perfect. Did you know there's a minor 'disagreement' among Indian food experts about whether appams should be cooked to golden or remain pure white? Personally, I prefer a little golden, like yours :)

  2. Your appam look great. It can be frustrating when you can't source an ingredient, but improvising can be fun :)