Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Achappam / Kerala Rosette cookies

Achappam...haa...brings a lot of childhood memories. The brightest being the image of my grandmom making tins and tins of these fried goodies before every Christmas and Easter. But we see these tins only on the day of making them; after that they vanish. Then a much smaller tin appears - which can hold hardly 8 -10 achappams or thats the ration for a week. Can't blame her.. in a house of 3 (always) hungry kids, 3 adults and (atleast 2) helpers, one need to ensure these tins lasts atleast a month. So for the next one month the evening tea-time snack will be these beautifully shaped achappams.

This is the first time I am trying my hands at these. Got hold the achu (mould) from my nneighbor..Thanks Madhoo!! Then straight away called up my grand-mom, got the recipe along with the tricks to handle achu and the batter consistency. Some of the tips below.

- For making the achappams, always use freshly ground rice powder. Never use roasted rice flour.
- The ground flour should be sieved well, and only very fine flour should be used.
- The rice - egg ratio is 4 big cup (naazhi) : 4 eggs (I used 1 naazhi equivalent to about 3 normal measuring cup and 1 egg). For this amount, about half of a coconut should be used
- 3 cups of rice gave me about 4 cups of very flour
- Before using the achu, dip in hot salted water for sometime (about an hour). Then wipe it clean.
- When the oil starts boiling, dip the achu in this oil for atleast 5 minutes. The achu should be hot enough, else the batter stick to the mould. When the mould is dipped into the batter, you should hear a sizzling sound.
- The batter thickness is very important. It should be of the thickness of vattayappam - semi thick that should be.
- If the batter is too thick, add little more coconut milk or water. If its thin, then add little more rice flour or even little maida will work.
- The mould should be dipped only 3/4th in the batter. If you dip completely, then the achappams will not get released from the mould
- There should be enough oil for deep frying. And it should be really hot.

 Now on to the recipe..

White rice - 4 cups (I used sona masuri rice) - when ground you should have about 7-8 cups of fine flour
Coconut milk - about 2 cups (extracted from 3/4th of a coconut grated)
Egg (beaten) - 1
Salt - as needed
Sugar - 2 tbsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Black sesame seeds - 1 tsp

Making the rice flour : Soak the rice in enough water for atleast an hour. Drain well, spread it on newspaper and allow to dry (for about half hr). Once dry (it should not be too dry, should be slightly moist), put it in mixer (in batches) and grind to fine powder. Sieve them and measure.

Take the rice flour in a bowl (steel recommended, as you will be dipping hot iron mould into this, and you do not want the plastic to melt).
Add enough salt and sugar (if using)
Add the coconut milk, 1 cup at a time. Ensure you get a semi-thick consistency.
Add the beaten egg
Sprinkle the cumin and sesame seeds and give a good stir.
Heat oil in a thick bottomed vessel. Dip the mould in this oil for atleast 5 min, till the oil is really hot. Now dip the mould in the batter and immediately transfer it to the oil. It will sizzle for a while. Now using a fork, slightly push the (now firming up) achappam into the oil. Cook both sides. Once done, drain the oil and let it cool on a kitchen towel
Repeat for the whole batch. Once all the achappams are cooled well, transfer them to an airtight container.

PS : It is time-consuming!! and might test your patience. The batter will sometimes show an attitude and will not remove itself from the mould...But still be patient..your efforts will be paid off..

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