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Appam (Telugu), or aappam hoppers, also known as apam and gundappam, are essentially fermented rice pancakes which are an important part of South Indian and Sri Lankan cuisines. The dish is a specialty of Tamil Nadu and Kerala and it has various local names. In Oriya, it is called chitau pitha and in Kodava and Sinhala the preparation is known as paddu or gulle eriyappa and appa, respectively.

The dish has been an important part of the Indian cuisine for many centuries. It has been an offering to the Hindu deities for many years. In many old Tamil literature and texts, there are references to the preparation.

Aappam: Common Ingredients Used in Preparation

Uncooked white rice, grated coconut, sugar, cooked white rice, water and salt are the most important traditional ingredients used in the preparation of appam. There are, however, various different regional recipes to make the dish and based on the recipe being followed, the list of ingredients changes. Rice, salt and sugar are, however, constant additions which are a part of every recipe.

The dish is fried in ghee or oil. Sometimes, kefir or yeast is added to start the fermentation process.

Gundappam: Preparation Overview

Appam is generally categorized a moderately easy dish to make. The cooking time is about 25 to 30 minutes and frying is the method of preparation. The rice to be used is soaked overnight and ground the next day. All the other ingredients are prepared as required and mixed together. A batter is made and then fired in ghee or oil on a tava or a nonstick pan.

Serving and Eating Aapam Hoppers

Appam is usually served hot with a chutney or sauce on the side. While the dish is mostly served for breakfast or dinner, it can be consumed at any time during the day. It is a popular snack in various regions. In South India, aappam is an important preparation and a part of almost all major celebrations and special occasions.

Aappam: Popular Variations

  • Plain hoppers: made from fermented rice flour, these are bowl-shaped thin pancakes and served with mutton curry, vegetable stew or egg roast.
  • Egg hoppers: this variant is the same as the plain hopper, only an egg is broken into the dish as it cooks.
  • Milk hoppers: to the center of the dough, thick coconut milk or coconut cream is added.
  • Honey hoppers: a generous amount of palm treacle is added to the batter. Sometimes, jaggery is added just before serving to make the dish extra sweet.
  • Noolputtu: this variant is also known as idiyappam and made from rice noodles. The dish is served for breakfast and is accompanied by chicken or thin fish curry.
  • Pesaha: during passover, this version of the appam is made by Christians in Kerala.