What are Appam?

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  • Written By: Sara Schmidt
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 04 November 2019
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Whether served for breakfast, dinner, or a tasty dessert, appam are a favorite form of Sri Lankan cuisine. The round foods are made primarily out of rice flour or rice, milk, sugar, and seasonings. Also known as hoppers, these curved pancakes can be served plain or with whatever topping the chef chooses.

Appam batter is made out of a few simple ingredients. A single batch may be prepared with raw Basmati rice, coconut or any other type of milk, salt, sugar, cooked Basmati rice, and dried yeast. Grated coconut, honey, cardamom, nuts, and other flavoring agents may be added to taste.

Also a famous dessert in Indian cuisine, hoppers are prepared in a similar way to Western pancakes. Batter is mixed with the basic ingredients as well as any additions the chef prefers, then covered and stored overnight at room temperature. This will allow the batter to ferment. The next day, a skillet is heated to cook the appam.

To form the appam, it should be prepared like a very thin, lacy pancake without the edges being cooked too thoroughly. After one side of the batter is browned, the sides are pushed up with a spatula to form a small, basket-like structure. They are served plain or with eggs, honey, or any other food nestled inside the edible bowl.


For a crispier appam, the batter can be deep fried in cooking oil. When the dessert treat known as neyyappam is made, ghee can be added during cooking. Mashed bananas, cream, and other smooth additions can be added to create a new consistency or flavor.

A traditional way to serve appam involves pairing the plain pancake with a spicy condiment. Coconut milk curry is a favorite type of food used for this purpose, though any curry will work well. Rather than pouring the condiment inside the pancake, these are often eating by simply dipping the rice cake into the spicy substances.

Various types of appam can also be made while the dough is cooking. Egg hoppers can be made when an egg is added into the pancake center as the batter cooks. Jaggery, or unrefined sugar, and palm treacle, or syrup, can be added to create decadent honey hoppers. Syrup can also be used in creating the popular dish, pesaha appam.

String hopper, an entire meal made from this dish, can be prepared with rice noodles. The entire meal itself consists of the hoppers as well as chutney or sambol, lentils, and a small dish of curried meat. Instead of being fried on a skillet or deep-fried, these types of pancakes are usually cooked through steaming.


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Post 3

@stormyknight: This recipe is a little different and might be a little more complicated but it is delicious! It takes about 16 hours of “sitting” time so it is best to start it in the afternoon and it will be ready to cook the next morning.

You need 3 cups of raw Basmati rice and 1 cup of cooked Basmati rice, 1 cup coconut milk, 1 tsp. sugar, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. dried yeast, and 100 ml. of milk.

Wash and soak the raw rice in a large bowl for 4-5 hours. Once soaked, mix the raw and cooked rice in a blender or food processor. Add the coconut milk and blend. Remove the batter and put it

in a bowl. Add a little bit of water at a time (if needed) to get “pouring” consistency. You want it to be like pancake batter.

Warm a cup of water and put in a bowl. Add the salt, sugar and yeast to the water and stir. Add this to the above batter and mix. Let the batter sit overnight to ferment.

The next morning, heat a wok on medium heat. Pour a ladle of batter in the center. Swirl the wok to spread the batter thinly on the walls of the wok. The Appams should look like a bowl with a thick bottom. Cover the wok for 3 minutes.

Gently run a spatula under your Appam to release it from the wok. Serve hot.

Post 2

@stormyknight: It’s actually not hard to make at all. My sister-in-law taught me how to make it. It took me a couple of times to get it right, but after a couple of trial runs, I now make delicious Appam. Here is the recipe that I use:

½ cup cooked rice, ½ kg. raw rice, 1 coconut (grated), 2 ½ cups water, 3 tsp. sugar, ½ tsp. yeast and salt to taste.

Soak your raw rice for about four hours and then drain it. Blend it in with the cooked rice and grated coconut. Boil your water and then add the sugar, yeast and salt to it. Let that sit for 30 minutes. Add the water mixture to the cooked rice and coconut

mixture. Let it ferment for about 8 hours. (I usually just let it sit overnight).

Spread the mixture into a non-stick pan that has a lid. Put the lid on the pan and heat it for two minutes. Your Appam is ready. I like to serve it with potato curry.

Post 1

It sounds great but it also sounds like it might be a little complicated to make. Does anyone know how to make appam? Is it as hard as it sounds?

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