Friday, October 3, 2014

Fermented Favourites

Recipe: Mom's Soft and Delicate Vattayappam (Steamed cakes of fermented rice and coconut batter)

"It's so soft and delicate, Amma. Can you give me some more?"

That's what my elder son told me when he had his first slice of Vattayappam.

I used my mother's recipe as I have loved her vattayappams the most.


Vattayappams are exactly that kind of dish that mothers love to make and children love to eat. They are perfect for any time of the day. They can be eaten as a snack, or even for a meal along with some curry on the side. On their own, they are the no-mess kind of food, which makes it wonderful to carry during travels or to school/office.


Since this is a very popular dish in Kerala, especially among the Syrian Christians, every family has their own way to make it - some of them use added spices like cardamom and cumin, some use jaggery to sweeten it, etc. But every child would claim that their mother's vattayappam is the best :)

So here is my mom's vattayappam recipe which results in soft, cloud-like vattayappams that melt in the mouth and it even found favour with hard-to-please critics such as my son.


MOM'S SOFT AND DELICATE VATTAYAPPAM (Steamed cakes of fermented rice and coconut batter)
Recipe Source: Mom

Ingredients:
Raw Rice - 1 cup (you can use Sona Masuri too)
Grated Coconut - 1 cup
Water - 3 cups
Sugar - 2-3 Tbsp (as per personal preference - the sweetness can be reduced if this is going to be served for a meal along with a side-dish)
Salt - 1/4 tsp 
Oil for greasing the pan
Raisins/cashews fried in ghee - 1 -2 Tbsp (optional)

Use any one as the fermenting agent.
Toddy - 1/3 cup (You can make toddy at home by following the method here. I highly recommend using toddy instead of yeast. The flavour of the end-product is exceptionally awesome when it is fermented with toddy)
Or
Proofed Yeast - Mix 1/3 cup of warm water and 1 tsp of sugar. Add 1/8 tsp of active dried yeast to this and mix well. Let it stand for 5-10 minutes or till it begins to bubble.

Method:

Wash and soak the raw rice for 2-4 hours.

Coarsely grind the rice with 1 cup of water in the mixie. Take 1/4 cup of this coarsely ground mixture and pour in a saucepan. Add 1 cup of water to the sauce-pan. And cook this mixture over a medium flame, stirring constantly till it boils and thickens to a wet, sticky dough-like consistency. Then switch off flame and cool.

Once cool, add this cooked mixture to the rest of the coarsely ground rice. Add the grated coconut, sugar, salt, the fermenting agent (toddy or proofed yeast), and 1 cup of water and grind well in the mixie. 

The batter should have a free pouring consistency but not too watery. Add more water only if needed. Pour in a large steel container which can hold at least more than double the amount of batter. Keep in a warm place/near the stove to ferment for at least 6 hours or over-night. The batter will bubble and rise.

When the batter has fermented and risen, give a good mix to the batter with a ladle and it will go down for sometime. Grease a metal pan or steel plate with a few drops of oil. Pour the batter into it till at least 1/2 inch thick. Top with fried raisins or cashews if using and steam cook it for 15-20 minutes or till a toothpick comes out clean. If the batter is thicker than 1/2 inch, you will need to steam for a longer time. The vattayappam will rise when it is cooking.
 

Once cooked and cooled, slice into desired number of pieces. It can even be inverted onto a plate and then sliced.

Enjoy either on its own or with a curry.

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