We are Hindu and don’t celebrate Christmas. I have, however, spent a large part of my childhood and adulthood living in places where Christmas is celebrated. Now, my next door neighbour also celebrates Christmas and we look forward to the variety of food, cake and chocolates they always bring over.
Our daughter has this little tree (artificial) she loves to decorate and put up in our living room. In fact, for a long time she used to believe in Santa Claus and would be thrilled by the presents he brought for her. She used to be very worried that Santa would give her a miss as we didn’t have a chimney ( her books told her this was how he came) so I used to tell her he would come through the open window!
So, in tune with the spirit of the season, I thought I should do a post about some food typical of Christmas in Kerala.
Christmas in Kerala is celebrated as in other parts of the world, with families getting together and putting up Christmas cribs, attending special masses and eating good food. Christmas trees are not a tradition (probably because they don’t grow here) though stars are put up in Christian homes in December. While I am not sure about the details of the traditional fare served for Christmas, I know it is mostly non-vegetarian. Traditionally foods prepared for Christmas include plum or fruit cake, vattayappam, palappam, kozhalappam and achappam.
Of these, achappam is a favourite with us, whatever the season. “Achu” refers to the mould used to make this and “appam” is a general name for a batter, usually of rice flour, that is deep-fried or steamed. One of my cookie books has a recipe for rosette cookies from Europe (made using a mould) which is made from all purpose flour and deep-fried. This might be the origin of the achappam.
To make an achappam you need a special iron mould which is dipped in the batter and then lowered into the oil. The achappam leaves the mould and is fried till cooked. This technique is what has to be learnt. This comes only with practice. I should know. I finally got it right today. Earlier, the batter would stick to the mould and refuse to come off. I also discovered that I need to get a better mold, if I want a nicer looking achappam.
The recipe, finally.
1 cup fine rice flour
1 tbsp all purpose flour
1 cup thick coconut milk (120ml, this would be from I coconut)
(I used 25g coconut milk powder dissolved in 120ml water)
¼ cup sugar
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
1 tbsp black sesame seeds
oil for deep frying
(Traditional recipes use only rice flour and no baking powder)
Mix all the ingredients to make a slightly thick batter (like for dosas). Heat the oil with the mould in it. If the mould is not hot enough, or too hot the batter will not coat it properly. Turn the heat to medium, dip the mould into the batter and then lower into the oil. Agitate the mould very slightly and the achappam will slide into the oil. Fry till light brown on both sides and allow to drain on a paper towel. Use up the batter this way. Store in airtight containers.
Note: Natural coconut milk is the best. I wasn’t sure these would turn out well in the first place, so I took the easy way out. :D
I am sending these to Food Blogga for her Christmas Cookies from Around the World