Appams and Sri Lankan Beef Curry

This month’s Daring Cooks Challenge seemed to creep up on me really quickly.   One day it was July and then suddenly I realised the posting date was almost there.    This month we were challenged to make appams to accompany a south Indian/Sri Lankan dish.  I think I’d heard the name appams before but that was as far as it got.   They are a type of fermented rice and coconut pancake.  I’d never eaten them before and they are also quite different to any other pancakes so for me, this was exactly the type of challenge I like.  The fact that they are Indian and I love Indian food was also a bonus.

I think my appams looked right, at least they looked the same as other appams on the internet, but as I haven’t had them before I’m  not sure if the texture was quite right.   They broke up very easily and this may have been because when I blended the rice, I didn’t blend it quite finely enough, although the recipe did state that it didn’t need to be completely smooth.  I noticed after blending that there were still some tiny gritty bits in the mixture.   Maybe using rice flour or half rice flour, half rice instead of the uncooked rice would have helped the appams to hold together better.  Or maybe they are supposed to be like this. Like any of these things,  I think when you make a completely new recipe, it can sometimes take a few tries to get it just right, and unfortunately, I’ve only had one try at these.

In terms of flavour, they did have a lovely coconut  flavour and I might even like to make them more coconuty by adding extra coconut blended up with the water.  I did feel I could still taste a slightly yeastiness though, which I would like to mask next time.   Maybe I didn’t add quite enough salt.   When I’ve experimented with using less  salt in homemade bread, I find that I get the same yeasty flavour.

The curry tasted good too, I especially liked the flavour the tamarind gave it.  I used my lazy slow cooker method and the picture looks terrible (so I’ve hidden it right at the bottom of the post). I wasn’t sure how to eat it with the appams as they did not hold together well enough to eat like a bread, so I dipped them in which was good and then tore them up and put the bits in the curry as that was the easiest way.   Sorry! Probably not the right way, but it worked for me!

Blog-checking lines: 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.

Ingredients for Appams – Makes 6-8, serves 2-3

Recipe from Aparna at My Diverse Kitchen

150g uncooked basmati rice

Just under 1 tsp dry yeast

1 tsp sugar

60ml water

9g cooked rice

1/4 tsp salt

60ml thick coconut milk

How to make Appams

1. Soak the raw rice in bowl of water for at least 3 hours.

2. Dissolve the sugar in the water.   Then add the yeast and leave it to become frothy.

3. Drain the raw rice and put in a blender.   Add the yeast and water mixture.   Blend.

4. Add the cooked rice to the blender and continue to blend until it is fairly smooth.

5. Put the mixture into a bowl and leave for 8-12 hours in a warm place.  I left mine in the kitchen for about 21 hours and it was fine.   It will go quite yeasty and a bit smelly but don’t worry.

6. When ready to make add the salt and coconut milk.   It should be a little thicker than milk.   If it is too thick add a little water.

7. Smear a little oil around a wok or frying pan.   The pan should be oiled but there shouldn’t be a pool of oil in the bottom.

8. Take half a ladle of the batter and pour it into the pan.   Swirl it around so it is thin around the outside but a bit thicker in the middle.   This is why I found a wok works really well.

9. After about two minutes remove and keep making them until all the batter is used up.

Ingredients for Sri Lankan Beef Curry – serves 2

Adapted from Mangoes and Curry Leaves, by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid

300g stewing steak, cubed

About 10 dried curry leaves

1 green chilli pepper, finely chopped

1 onion, finely chopped

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp salt

60 ml coconut milk

1 tsp tamarind paste

How to make Sri Lankan Beef Curry

1. Put all the ingredients in the slow cooker in the morning.   Cover with a little water so the beef is covered.

2. In the evening, remove the curry from the slow cooker and simmer on the hob to reduce the liquid a little.

3. Don’t reduce too much.   It should still be quite soupy.  Serve with the appams.