Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Little Round Bundles of Joy :)... And A Very Very Happy Onam

Recipe: Unni Appam (A Kerala Savoury)

Now, this little,soft, sweet, brown ball doesn't need any introduction to any Keralite across the globe.... I am sure !!

Always loved them, especially the ones that my Amma makes and also the ones we get at the temples as ‘prasadam’ .
These brown savoury balls, never fail to bring with them some fond memories.....they have always shared a major screen presence all through my childhood or maybe let me say, my pre-marriage days.
Amma used to make these so often that I hardly realised their greatness, until of course , I got married and moved out.

Unniappams were also my regular companions to hostel. Amma used to make enough to last a week, but of course, it never ever worked that way with my home-food craving hostel buddies ;). They loved my mom's phenomenal unniappams and so keeping them for a week was always a mere dream!!

I have tried to adapt her recipe here, well, it did turn out good, but guess I need more practise to get mine as soft and yummy as Ammas.
It's Uthradam today, Onam eve......... Almost all the Keralites across the globe would be busy sweating out in the kitchen, getting ready for the big day tomorrow, nothing is different with me too.... I am here, taking a break from my cutting and cooking :)

Though, I have spent most of my childhood in the middle east , I have been lucky, because, Onam, almost always fell in August or September and that's when our vacations were. And that meant, we could enjoy the entire Onam season in Kerala.
After my 10th grade, when we had to move back to Kerala, the only thing that brightened my morbid heart was that we could celebrate Onam and Vishu in its full glory, with all my cousins and family. And also, all my post marriage Onams were always with family in Kerala, until........

Ok, so, what I am trying to tell is that this Onam, I am stuck here in Bahrain, and that this time it's just Us and a few friends and thats it :(
I missed out on all the 10 days of 'pookalam' (floral carpet)-making  and all the other frills and colours of the celebs that we usually have back home....boohoo !!!

Yeah, I know, lifes like that sometimes and so I have kept aside my woes, and have geared up to make this Onam as special as possible for my little girl here, as my parents did so for my brother and me.

This Onam, we decided to do a potluck-like Sadhya (feast), a friend of mine and I have split the work in half. Easy for both of us :)
I am making Elissery, Avial, Olan, Kalan, Puli inji and Parippu Pradaman. Rice, Sambar, Rasam, Papadam, Pickle, Kootu curry and Pal Payasam by my friend.

I guess, this post has gone long enough already, so no more yapping, and here goes the recipe....



Rice - 1 cup, soaked in water for 2-3 hrs
Coconut grated - ¼ cup
Jaggery - 3 blocks or ¼ kg (you may add more if you prefer sweeter unniappams)
Small Banana- 2 (do not use Poovan pazam)
Chopped coconut pieces - ½ cup
Ghee/Butter - 2 tbsp
Oil - For deep frying
Unniappam Chatti (vessel used for making unniappam)


Place jaggery along with ¼ cup of water in a heavy bottomed vessel and heat  on medium flame, until it has melted completely and you get a brown coloured syrup. Strain this through a sieve to remove the impurities and set aside to cool.

Fry the chopped coconuts in ghee and set aside.

Using a blender, grind together rice, grated coconut and bananas to form a smooth paste. Use very little water while grinding, maybe just ¼ cup will do. Because, we do not want our rice paste to be too watery..... this doesn't help in giving a good texture to the unniappams.

Now, pour the cooled jaggery syrup along with the fried coconuts, into the rice paste and mix well. Your batter should be of dropping consistency or slightly thinner than the idly batter.
If you find your batter too watery, its ok to add a couple of tablespoons of rice powder until you get the right form.

Leave to ferment for 3-4 hours. If you add rice powder, leave for an extra hour or more.

Heat your unniappam chatti or any other vessel of choice along with enough oil for deep frying. If using unniappam chatti, pour tablespoonful of batter into the holes and fry on medium flame.
If your batter is of perfect consistency, your unniappams will rise up on its own and start dancing in the oil :)
Turn them over and fry, till they are a lovely brown colour.
(If you don't have a chatti, you may use any other vessel, only that the unniappams won't have their preconceived shapes :) )
Remember, the oil has to be maintained at medium temperature throughout.
Once, the unniappams are done, drain them out using a slotted spoon. You may further drain off the excess oil using kitchen tissues.
These are best, eaten the same day, but can be stored in air-tight containers to be enjoyed over the week as well.