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Appam and chicken stew is a celebratory breakfast served at most lowkey occasions

Considered the pancake of the South, Appams are relished by all south Indians for their unique sweet taste. The thin, lacy sides and the pillowy white centre coupled with stew is a famous breakfast item that most Malayali restaurants sell outside Kerala. Eating the Appam is not just a matter of tasting a Malayali dish, but an experience.

Ingredient-wise it is similar to the Dosa, which is larger, flatter, and non-sweet. Dosa is usually paired with sambar or chutney, and depending on what it is served with, forms one of the numerous varieties available across the southern states. Dosa is made of rice that has been soaked the previous night and is ground to produce a sort of thick batter. Appam, on the other hand, is made from rice flour and coconut milk, and is primarily served with a vegetarian or non-vegetarian stew.

Appam with egg Sri Lankans crack an egg directly into the pan while the Appam is still cooking Image credit: wikimedia commons

The Appam is believed to be a dish that the Jews brought to India when they came here after the Second Temple was destroyed in Jerusalem. The presence of a strong Jewish presence in Kerala suggests this connection. Not just them, even the Syrian Orthodox order of Christians that perhaps began with the coming of Vasco da Gama and other voyagers is still religiously carried on. The inclusion of their cultural tastes being included in the culinary practices, is therefore, not a coincidence.

Sri Lanka shares cultural roots with Kerala and Tamil Nadu, and this is reflected in their version of Appam. In Tamil Nadu, Appam is served with coconut milk separately, while Sri Lankans crack an egg directly into the pan while the Appam is still cooking. The bowl-shaped pancake takes on a new look and flavour with these minor changes.

Pesaha Appam with a palm leaf cross Pesaha appam is a variety that is not fermented Image source: wikimedia commons

Using the same batter-base, different kinds of Appam have been developed, and are used in certain festive settings. Appam fermented with toddy instead of yeast is a specialty in Kerala. Acchappam, Kalappam, and Pesaha Appam are varieties that are not prepared every day. They include additions like black gram, garlic, onion, and the batter is not fermented in some cases.

Within traditional bounds, Appam has a history and significance unique to the growth of Kerala as a state. Outside Kerala, the Appam still remains one of the most exotic inter-state foods, and most people like to celebrate special occasions with this as a starter.

Keywords: Appam, Coconut milk, Kerala, Sri Lanka, Peninsula, Pancake, Dosa



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