Unni appams are sweet fried dumplings offered to the Gods and often eaten as a snack in Kerala. You will find them stacked in tea shops (chaya kada) inside glass chambers. Unni appam is a good option when you need to make a sweet item that will last for a few days. Traditionally, unni appams are made with raw rice. Check the recipe here. I have seen them being made with maida as well. The rice variety tends to get slightly hard and lose its charm beyond a day unless you add a banana in the batter. Maida unni appams retain their softness. I do not use maida in my unni appam for health reasons. I know what you are thinking, deep fried seems to be OK but maida is not. I am just trying reduce the sinning quotient here. Call me a hypocrite 😉
I have tried experimenting with unni appam batter by adding different types of flour and other ingredients like jack fruit jam (chakka varatti). Most of the times the experiments turn out really yum. Very rarely, some ingredients could make the appams too soft and cumble easily when you fry them or make them too hard. So yes, you could boldly experiment with the unni appam batter with a very high success rate! This time, I added various types of flour to appam batter and the results were amazing. Here is my version of multigrain unni appam recipe. The different types of flour are optional and you could choose to omit depending on availability and personal choice.
Raw rice flour – 1 cup
Wheat flour – 1 cup
Rawa/sooji (optional) – 1/4 cup
Bran (optional) – 1/4 cup
Popped ragi flour (optional) – 1/2 cup
Coconut sliced and cut into small pieces – 1/4 cup
Jaggery – 2 cups
Ripe banana of medium size (elaichi or the sour variety) – 1
Cardamom – 2-3 pods
Black sesame seeds – 1 tsp
Water – 3 cups
Ghee/Coconut oil (for frying) – 2 cups
Mix the jaggery in 1/2 cup of water and bring it to boil. Remove from fire when all the jaggery pieces have melted. Strain and keep aside. Peel the banana, mash, and mix it in jaggery syrup (you could even blend it in a mixer to ensure smooth consistency). Add all flours into the jaggery syrup. Add little amounts of water if required and stir. The batter should be of the consistency of idli batter. Cut the coconut into small pieces, and roast in ghee until the edges start to turn golden brown. Add this to the unni appam batter along with sesame seeds and powdered cardamom. Mix well and let the batter rest for a couple of hours.
You can adjust the quantity of jaggery to the sweetness level you prefer.
Instead of rice flour, you can soak raw rice in water for 3-4 hours, drain the water and grind it to a smooth paste using very little water and use it.
Ragi is a very important grain in Karnataka and is used in daily cooking in a variety of forms. Popped ragi flour is available in Karnataka markets. You can substitute this with normal ragi flour.
You can use sunflower oil to make unni appam but using ghee or coconut oil gives it an authentic taste and flavor.
Place the unni appam mold (paniyaram pan) on fire and add ghee/coconut oil. When you start getting the smell of oil/ghee, turn fire to medium. Pour spoonfuls of batter into each pit. When the sides turn golden brown, turn over the unni appam. Keep turning the unni appams in between, till you get a dark golden brown color on both sides. Remove from oil, and drain on kitchen towels/tissue paper, and serve.