Achappam is a traditional authentic snack of Kerala which is a very popular dish prepared during the Christmas festival. Achappam is a word used in Kerala where ‘achu’ means mould and appam means something made with rice flour which is deep fried or steam cooked. Achappam is a crunchy sweet and looks similar to Rosette cookies.
Achappam is called by various names as achu murukku, rose cookies etc. It is a popular and traditional sweet of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. It is usually a round shaped snack and resembles a flower. It is made with a special round mould. The mould is typically made of iron and now days also available in non-stick too.
Traditionally the basic recipe of Achappam is prepared with rice, coconut milk, sugar and eggs. You can also substitute the rice with a mixture of rice and maida (all purpose flour) and coconut milk with milk. The ratio of rice powder and maida can be varied and if you wish to a crunchier achappam then you need to add more rice powder. All the ingredients are mixed together to form a thick batter that has the consistency of dosa batter.
The mould is dipped in the batter and then inserted into hot oil. The achappam then separates from the mould and it is fried till golden brown. This is a tricky process and needs lot of practice to get the right desired shape. It is much easier to do it with a non stick mould.
The mould needs to be hot enough so that the batter coats the mould properly. If the mould in not hot, the batter will not stick to the mould and will not separate from the mould when dipped in hot oil. Achappam looks very similar to the rosette cookies which are a thin cookie like deep fried pastry of Norwegian origin.
Rosettes are traditionally made during Christmas time and made using intricately designed irons. The iron mould is heated to a very high temperature in oil, dipped into the batter, and then re-immersed in the hot oil to create a crisp shell around the metal. The iron is immediately removed and the rosette is separated from the iron. Usually, the edges of the rosette are dipped into frosting or sugar.
Rosette recipes are popular in the United States among families with Scandinavian ancestry. In Finland, rosettes may be served at May Day (Vappu) celebrations as an alternative to funnel cakes (tippaleipä). Rosettes are a traditional pastry in Turkey and Malaysia, where they are known as "demir tatlısı" (iron pudding, in reference to the moulds or kuih ros respectively, which are made of cast or sheet iron).
These pastries are also made in Iran, where they are called "nan panjara", and Mexico where they're called "Buñuelos". To prepare this crispy and crunchy Achappam, firstly wash and soak the rice for two hours. Grind the rice with milk to a thick batter. Beat the eggs thoroughly and add to the batter along with sugar and the cardamom powder and mix well.
Heat oil in a pan or kadai and dip the achappam mould in it for a minute. Dip the mould into the batter and then dip it in the hot oil. Fry along with the mould. Tap the mould for the appam to separate. Do this carefully as you will be working with hot oil. Repeat the same till the batter is over. Initially making this would take little time and effort but practicing more shall make things easy and faster to prepare.
To prepare this dish do click on the below link for the detailed recipe:
Tips: While buying the mould, choose thick and heavy mould compared to thin mould as this would be easy to prepare the snack. Remember that the batter should be right as the dosa batter consistency. Care should be taken to see that the mould is not fully dipped in the batter, by mistake. Otherwise the cookies will not come out of the mould when you place it in the oil and shake.
Christmas in Kerala is celebrated as in other parts of the world with pomp and fare. A number of varied traditional vegetarian, non-vegetarian dishes are prepared. Traditionally foods/ sweet prepared for Christmas include plum or fruit cake, vattayappam, palappam, achappam and kozhalappam etc. Christmas in India in never complete without the traditional and delicious sweet meats; which includes kulkuls (Gavvalu in Telugu), rose-cookies along with doughnuts and cakes.