Everyday Simple Recipes, Festival Recipes, Kerala Recipes, Snacks, South Indian, Sweets, Vegan

Multigrain Unni Appam (sweet fried dumplings)

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.

Ingredients
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

Method
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.

string of unni appamsPlace 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.

Festival Recipes, Kerala Recipes, South Indian, Sweets

Unni Appam

Sweet balls, crisp on the outside and soft inside. The dessert of the Gods!

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Ingredients:
Rice flour* – 1-1/2 cups
Jaggery/molasses – 2 cups
Ripe Banana – 2 (tiny yellow ones, Elaichi Kela in Hindi, Rasa Kadali in Malayalam)
Cardamom – 5 pods
Thinly sliced coconut pieces – 1/4 cup
Ghee (for frying the coconut pieces) – 1 tbsp
Coconut Oil* – 1-1/2 cups
Water – 1 cup

* In case any of these ingredients are unavailable, check the alternate ingredients section for other options.

Alternatives:
Ghee can be used instead of coconut oil to fry the unni appams.
This snack can also be made with wheat flour instead of rice flour using the above-mentioned method with the exception of plantain.

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Resting Time (for batter): 30 mins.
Cooking Time: 5 min.

Method for batter:
Mix the jaggery in 1/2 cup of water and let it boil. Remove from fire when all the jaggery pieces have melted. Let it cool. Peel banana, mash, and mix it in jaggery syrup. Cut coconut into small pieces, fry in ghee, and add to the jaggery syrup. Add the rice flour into the jaggery syrup. Powder the cardamom and add to this batter. If the batter is too thick, add a little water. The batter should be of the consistency of idli batter.

Method for Unni appam:
Place the appam mould on fire and pour coconut oil enough to fill all the pits with oil. When you get the sweet aroma of boiling coconut oil, pour the batter into the pits in the appam mould.

The fire should be in medium.

When the sides turn golden brown, turn over the appam. You can dip a toothpick into the unni appam to check for stickiness. If the batter sticks to the tooth pick, it is not ready to be turned yet. Remove from oil, drain and set aside. Crispy unni appams are ready to be gobbled.

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Notes:
After removing the unni appam from fire, place them on absorbent paper for 5 mins to remove excess oil.

This sweet is free of processed sugar. Jaggery is a healthy alternative for sugar.

Trivia:
This is a sweet dish that is often offered to the Gods in South Indian temples, especially in Kerala.

Skill Level:
Medium

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