Sunday, August 14, 2011

Appam and Curry

It's been a couple of challenges since we've had to really plan our attack out (shopping as well as timing) and get started the day (or many days) before the scheduled eating of the result.  Probably could have squeezed it in a day, but we used the night time too.

Thanks for giving us a lot to pick from!  We almost went with the whole fish, but we like lamb...


Nothing complicated rounding up the ingredients, all coming from our regulation everyday store or our pantry.  We did learn that Coconut Water comes in a soda can, though; and the one we were presented with had small chunks of coconut floating around.

Day 1, just before bed time get the rice a soaking.  The hardest part of this is actually not getting up off the couch and going straight to bed...

Day 2, just before leaving for work, get the coconut water, yeast and sugar playing together.  Load up the food processor with the soaked rice and wait a few minutes for the yeast to wake up.  Everyone in the processor and grind up that rice.  Almost finished, add in the cooked rice (which for the record is very hard to cook if you have no need for a normal batch that you can just rob from!), and grind a bit more.  Set it aside, cover and go to work.

Day 2, just after getting home and feeding the cats, do nothing.  Well, until the Curry is ready because the recipe says cook and eat, not cook and keep to the side.

Day 2, just as the Curry is almost done, add in the coconut milk, whip it all up and have a go at cooking them up.  Small amount in the pan, swirl quickly, cover.  That's easy enough, right?  And we would tend to agree.  But we could not get them out of the pan and we certainly didn't get any curled up edges.

It seems we're experts at having them stick to the pan and when we finally got smartlucky enough to not have them completely stick to the pan we could do nothing but get them stuck to the spatula (a non-stick one at that!).  We did eventually get them on the plate, but they were more pile-like than pancake-like. 

For the record, we tried a normal pan, lightly oiled; beat up non-stick, lightly oiled; fairly new non-stick, lightly oiled; non-stick skillet, lightly oiled; fairly new non-stick, moderately oiled (don't do that, nothing good comes of it!) and even the pan we would call our best produced some stickage with the others varying degrees of disaster.  There's clearly something we're missing, or did wrong with the batter.  Anyone?


We sucked at this!  Our first batch was probably nice calling it a disaster (for reasons not needing to be discussed here we started on one day but had to abort until a couple of days later, way past the recommended batter storing time).  Our second batch, much less disaster-like, but did not look a whole lot like the final result pictures provided. Oh well.

However, we think they tasted ok and we think the texture worked ok with the Curry.  We'll have to go out and eat some 'real' ones some day soon at least for comparison, but more for tips on making the pesky little things...

Sri Lankan Lamb Curry

A previous challenge got us the knowledge of where to find the lamb so that was easy (if you don't count getting a little bit lost on the drive over).  Fresh Curry Leafs and Whole Spices needed a bit more consideration, but ultimately was not a problem.  We headed over to a neighborhood where we thought we'd have the best chance for success and one shop later, we now have a new shop on our go-to list and a bag with all the goodies we need.

Once the ingredients are in hand it really is nothing more than a come home after work and 'whip' it up type dish.  Phew!  Because we did come home after work and 'whip' it up.

The nice men at the store had cut the lamb up mostly in the size we were after so that was a very easy Step 1. 

Step 2 was no harder, but we were a bit puzzled by the amount of Cardamom used.  After opening up 2 pods and extracting the seeds it didn't seem like there were enough of them, especially compared to how much of the others were used.  We don't have a reference point so we just went with our pinch of seeds.  The whole batch toasts up nicely, 'stink' up the kitchen just wonderfully and with just a little bit of coaxing all fit in the grinder.  Grinding only improves the 'stink'!

We didn't do Part 2 of Step 3 correctly, or in fact, at all.  We read the ingredient list, saw Tamarind, thought "cool, it's already in the fridge" and therefore didn't add it to the shopping list.  What we didn't pick up on until we were in our not-going-out-again-tonight clothes was that the recipe called for Tamarind pulp and we are the proud owners of Tamarind paste.  No idea how the two equate so when we got to the tamarind liquid part we just added a tablespoon of paste to the water.  Not sure how it affected the final taste, but comparing it to the pictures provided our final effort was much much darker, which was a bit of a shame because it was an awesome color when the Tumeric first went in.

Other than that, getting everyone else to the party was uneventful.  We didn't get the smells coming out of the pot as strongly as we expected, but we're kind of thinking that's due partly (mostly?) to the Tamarind incident of '11.  Well, actually there was a close call towards the end...  We were mere minutes away from reducing it down too far and into that not-fun-for-the-dishwasher stuck to the pan stage. 


Yummy!  We really liked it.  We're not sure how it would compare to the others out there, but we're happy with what we got.  The lamb was tender, the sauce was rich without being too rich and there was no chance of there being leftovers for lunch the next day.

Recipes & Destructions Instructions



It's unlikely we'll have a go at the Appams again (unless we get some tips / tricks that come with a guarantee of success), but there's no reason to think we wouldn't consider the Curry again, especially seeing how many new spices we now have in the pantry (well, technically stuck to the fridge...).  Our friends would appreciate our effort, we're sure, if we served them up, but we're not going to just yet...

We probably need to give the Curry another go and do the Tamarind parts correctly, but maybe we won't because there's no reason to think we can't just be happy with our 'interpretation'...

We cracked open a bottle of Corets de Cima "Chaminé" which wouldn't have been our fist choice had we not enjoyed our first and second choice at some earlier time - solely based on the tasting notes provided.  It was new to us and a relatively new grape so it was fun to have open.  We don't think it aided our enjoyment of the Curry, but it sure didn't hurt it either.


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.

Comments pre Blog Platform Change

Stephanie responded:
Hmm... well, these are my tips from dosas and appam:

1) start with rice flour. food processors may not get it fine enough but blenders probably will.

2) make sure you have a HOT pan before you add batter

3) swirl, don't tilt. Sadly, I figured that out on the second to last one so most of mine were slightly weird shapes.

4) if they break, you either have a batter that is too thick or you tried to flip it too early.

They're quite yummy though, and if you start with rice flour, not quite so involved.

Makey-Cakey responded:
My Appam were definitely pile like rather than pancake like too! Well done for persevering - I eventually gave in and added a tablespoon of flour, which helped quite a lot! - but was technically cheating!

andy responded:
I'm sorry that you had such a hard time! My second go, after having the batter in the fridge 2 days, stuck too. Very frustrating!

anja janssen responded:
What a great story, it gave me a smile. My first appams were a real mess, because I forgot the lid. Later it went better. But I'm curious how the official appams taste.

Mary Dolan responded:
Sorry to hear that you had trouble with the appams, but thanks for participating. I didn't have any troubles with them sticking, but I used a new non-stick pan, lightly oiled. It may have been the heat--I had to do a lot of fiddling to get that right. I think tamarind paste/pulp goes by different names. I used the stuff in a solid block, but have no idea if I got it right either. As long as it tasted good. Cheers!

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