Unniyappam

Unniyappam is to Malayalees what parathas are to Punjabis. Its just loved by all. I’m yet to come across a Malayalee that doesn’t like these little balls of yumminess!!

Cooking is something that became a huge part of my life after marriage and then too only after my husband and I moved to the USA. Suddenly I found myself with a lot of time to kill, a husband that loves good food and well a small little kitchen in which to prepare said ‘good food’. And thus a journey began into the world of spices.
My first attempt at unniyappams was disastrous and that is putting it mildly. I made enough to feed the neighborhood but it was so bad that even we didn’t eat it. Where did I go wrong? Well, the rice used was wrong, I used matta rice which just killed the flavor and made the unniyappam hard as a rock. Then for the longest time, I did not bother with it.

When I asked my mom and aunts for the recipe, they said they used rice flour. The problem was that the rice flour we got here in the US was ground really fine and that would not work for unniyappams and I didn’t want to buy the more expensive tiny packets of Puttu Podi, only to make another batch of rocks!!!

Finally, I tried using idli rice and found a recipe that worked like magic!!! And because this turned out so well I am happy to make this my first recipe on this blog. I hope you will try and enjoy the unniyappams as much as my husband and child do.

Ingredients:

• Idli rice (washed and soaked for at least 3 hours) – 2 cups
• Jaggery – dark brown is best (broken into little pieces) – 300gms/1.5cups
• Little bits of coconut (thenga kothu) – 1/4 cup
• Black sesame seeds – 1 tbsp
• Ghee – 2 tbsp
• Small yellow banana – 6

Process:

First, you add about 1/4 cup water to the jaggery and boil it until all the jaggery melts. Let this sit until it is slightly warmer than room temperature.

Next, you need to grind the soaked rice along with the bananas and lukewarm liquid jaggery. Now if you are using a regular mixer to do your grinding, you will probably need to go 2 batched with this. If you are using a wet grinder, it can all go in at once. The idea here is to use the liquid jaggery to do your grinding.

Add water only if the jaggery isn’t enough. I use a wet grinder and I grind it using about 3/4th of the liquid jaggery until it is a nice batter. When you take a little of the batter between your fingers and rub them together you should find the batter to have a fine grainy texture.

At this point, you transfer the batter to a bowl. The consistency of the batter should be slightly thinner than idli batter but a little thicker than dosa batter. The consistency of the batter is very important to making good unniyappams which is why I do not recommend adding water unless you are unable to grind at all without adding a little water. If the batter is too thick when you transfer it to a bowl, you can always add some water then (little at a time is the trick). (TIP: If the batter does turn out to be too runny you can add in some rice flour to adjust the consistency).

Next, you heat up the ghee in a pan and fry the coconut bits and sesame seeds one at a time and add it to the batter. When you take a little batter and taste it, you should find the sweetness a little more than you’d like, only then will the sweetness be perfect after frying the unniyappams.

Once you mix in the fried coconuts bits and sesame seeds, cover and leave the batter in a warm place for 7-8 hours to let the batter ferment. If you live in a cold climate area like I do, leave your oven on warm mode or with the light on while you are preparing the batter and then place the bowl of batter in the oven. If the warm mode is turned on, make sure to turn it off before placing the batter in the oven.

After 8 hours, your batter should have fermented. The thing to note here is that it will not ride like idli or dosa batter, however, when you run a spoon through the batter you will see tiny air bubbles as proof of fermentation.

Lastly, we fry the unniyappams. Place your unniyappam/paniyaram pan on the cooktop and pour in coconut oil in each of the little wells in the pan (you cannot replace coconut oil with any other oil, the flavor will just not work out right).

Once the oil is hot, you pour in batter filling up to 3/4th of the well and let it cook one side and then slowly turn it over and let the other side cook as well.

 

Once cooked, you take it out on to a paper towel and fry the rest. Unniyappam’s are ready to be served.

 So YUM!!!

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