Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Achappam – Kerala Style Rosettes

As I wrote in my previous post, I fall in love with recipes that comes with a story and history, which gives them a soul and character of its own, no matter how simple the recipe is. Such recipes take me to a bygone era I have not been part of. That’s what happens most of the time when I approach the elderly men and women in our family for recipes and dishes cooked during their childhood……at times, they have a story to accompany the recipe…..memories to share …take pride in the tools and techniques they possess passed down to them by their mothers, grandmas or great grandmas.

By collecting such recipes handed down from generations to generations in our family, I have been making a humble attempt to connect with my roots as well and pass on the baton, pass on that tiny slice of the past to the future generations in our family, if at any point of time they get curious as to what we cooked and ate or what their grand-parents and great grand-parents preferred for breakfast or dinner or how the family traditions associated with certain festivals evolved. Perhaps, it might be my wishful thinking but no harm in staying on the optimistic side, right?

However, it is not just the recipes passed down to us that I love to cherish….there are some other things too…..a few of my favourite things which I have inherited from my family…..those things that come under the category of heirloom, things that speak volumes for itself and the family. Some of those treasures include those flimsy old leaflets of Thaliyola/palm-leaf manuscripts from my grandfather’s collection…….the bell metal vessels used by grandmas from both my paternal and maternal sides……those faded sepia pictures from the family album…..

………and one among those priceless possessions is this Achu/mould my mother gave me recently …….a special mould used particularly for making the crispy, crunchy, deep fried old world snack, Achappam, Kerala style rosettes……a tool and a recipe her mother passed on to her has now come to my collection. As much as I look at it as a treasure, I must admit that one thing she can’t pass on to me that easily is the skill to execute the tool and the recipe. And I realized it a couple of months back as I watched my mother frying up a batch of Achappam, with the deftness and dexterity that made me wonder if I would ever be able attain that level of skill, experience and presence of mind!!

As I wrote for Kuzhalappam, Achappam is also a popular snack that you come across during festival times like Onam or X’mas or stacked neatly and wrapped in clear plastic at bakeries and Ulsava-parambu/fare grounds, or as part of the spread on the eve of marriage/Kalyana Thalennu, or to fill up those huge snack tins carrying variety of snacks and sweets, taken by the newly-weds when they go to their in-laws house etc…..

Making Achappam is a tricky affair, something that comes to perfection only with the use of fine rice flour, right consistency of batter and ofcourse, practice. Achappam you see in my pictures lacks a bit of its finesse as my mother had to work with the ingredients and utensils available in hand, coming up with alternatives and substitutions. Generally, it is made using “ nalla nermayulla varukkatha pachari podi” , a fine raw rice flour which is not roasted. Since that was not available at home, my mother soaked some raw rice grains for an hour in water, drained it and let it dry a bit for around 20-30 minutes and then ground to a fine powder which she sieved using a very fine sieve. The finer the sieve, the finer the rice flour would be and even finer the texture of Achappam. If the batter is too thick like dosa/Indian pancake batter, then it is difficult to separate Achu/mould from the semi cooked , semi crisp fried dough and also it won’t have the right crunchy texture. Am just listing out the ingredients and method my mother followed thinking that someday I would gain the courage and skill to try it on my own!

Ingredients: ( Approx.)
  • 1 cup rice flour/pacha-podi ( Not roasted)
  • About ½ cup coconut milk, medium consistency
  • 2 ½ tsp egg, beaten lightly
  • Sugar, little less than 1/8 cup
  • 1 heaping tsp black sesame seeds/ellu, lightly roasted/heated
  • ¼ tsp cumin seeds/jeerakam
  • Oil for deep frying
  • Mix all the ingredients to the consistency of a batter- not as thick as dosa/Indian pancake batter- and leave it on the kitchen counter for around 20 minutes.
  • Heat oil in a small wok or sauce pot; as soon as you turn on the stove, drop the Achu/mould into the oil, and let it heat up along with the oil. In the meantime, transfer a small batch of batter to a small container; this way, you do not change the consistency of the batter as you keep dropping the oil coated hot Achu/mould every time into the batter.
  • When oil is really hot enough for deep frying - check by pouring a tiny drop of batter into the oil and see if it is coming up to the top immediately and sizzling and spitting in hot oil – lift off the Achu/mould from the hot oil and shake off the excess oil and then slowly dip Achu/mould in the batter (the one in the small container and hearing that “shhhh…shhhhoooo” sound is natural at this stage) for a second only till halfway ( DO NOT dip the Achu/mould fully into the batter) and then immediately drop the batter dipped Achu/mould back into the hot pool. At this point, you will notice numerous bubbles forming around the Achu/mould, as shown in the pictorial. Wait for about 30-40 seconds and gently shake off the Achu/mould and if you got the batter consistency right, you will see the semi-cooked Achappam coming off the Achu/mould easily; if you re having some trouble , try to separate the Achu/mould by gently pushing with a wooden skewer and it will come off easily; then let it cook until crisp and golden brown, by flipping each side. Keep adjusting the heat, otherwise it would get burnt fast. When it is fried enough, remove with a slotted spoon and let it drain on a paper towel. When it is completely cool, it gains more crunch and you can store them in an airtight container.
  • Keep repeating this step for the entire batch of batter and if your wok is big enough, continue to place the Achu/mould, in the hot oil itself after shaking off the semi cooked ones from it. Otherwise, please make sure that Achu/mould is heated properly in oil before dipping into the batter each time.
Related Posts:
Kuzhalappam Diamond cuts Ariyunda


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  1. I had a tough time softening a new Achappam mould. (My mom never owned one). :) I had to immerse it in oil and boil half an our everyday for a week. Cleaning the kadai after that was maddening. But my efforts bore fruit when the first batch of achappams itself came out well. Since readymade rice flour is always roasted, I too have to make fresh rice flour at home and that is the tedious part. Also need patience to half-dip the heated mould in the batter and make achappams one by one in a small kadai.
    Wish you luck when you try it out.

  2. Lovely step-by-step pics and detailed recipe.

    Any suggestions for egg replacer? Will a pinch of baking soda work in place of eggs?

  3. Xmas is in the air !!! When my mother washes Achappam's Achu and cake moulds I knw Xmas is round the corner...
    Ur "Achu" is very beautiful....we hv a more round one at home...I hv already earmarked all things I wanna inherit frm my Grandmas kitchen....Old Uruli....chattukam, the diamond-cut spoon etc...
    I hope to pass on the part of my family legacy to my kids by keeping a part of my grandmas kitchen....Kudos to u for keeping old recipes and kitchen tales alive...
    On my recent visit to Kerala I saw Double horse ready to eat Chakka varatty...Tht made me feel good....may b ways & means of using old world recipes hv changed bt atleast we r nt losing them altogether...
    Thru ur blog age-old recipes r being documented and many amongst us r tryng it out maybe with few variations to suit neo world taste and kitchen..its always better this way than losing age-old recipes altogether...

  4. I have had a acchapom moild for last 2 years and yet to use them, my daughter loves this, she eats them in loads when we are in kerala, i am sure gonna try this,but firt i have to temper the mould, i remember mom sayng before using it for the first time keep it in oil, should ring her and ask .
    Sure bookmarking this one.

  5. Shn,

    U r coming up with great post as ever...nice to see that achappam is also making to hall of fame. Talking about heirlooms, guess what I too have got from my mom, her one of two butterfly molds..yeah, she instead of flowery achappam makes butterfly achappam. It seems she had specially made through a smith years n years back. Even though I have inherited it, am yet to make use of it.. after reading ur post, am getting nostalgic. I look forward to ur posts.

    On a different note, am making ur biryani today. Will let u know how it came out.

    U take care dear

  6. Ah! Another Christmas favorite. My mom's batter was so perfect that even me or my sister could make perfect achappams out of it, it just fell off the mold so easily. What I love about this snack is that a little bit of batter can really go a long way--we used to have tins and tins of achappam during Christmas time. We even used to take them to school with us for Christmas potlucks/cookie exchanges explaining to our "American" friends that these were special Indian "cookies." My friends used to eat them by the dozen!

  7. Ah! Another Christmas favorite! My mom's batter used to be so perfect that even me or my sister could make perfect achappams with it, it would just fall off the mold so easily. What I love about this snack is that a little batter can go a long way--we used to have tins and tins of achappam around Christmas time! We even used to take them for Christmas potlucks/cookie exchanges for our "American" friends telling them that they are special Indian "cookies" made only for the holidays. My friends used to eat them by the dozen!

  8. wow, awesome snack..first time in your blog..very nice blog...clicks are more appetizing...I would love to have this post on my event, "Sunday Snacks : festive snacks of navratri and diwali"..if you think the same, follow the link...http://indranid.blogspot.com/2009/09/announcing-sunday-snacks-event-festive.html
    Visit me too when you have time

  9. Couldn't have imagined a childhood without achappam and kozhalappam! :) any spl occassions or palli perunnal, these crispies were always there. :)

  10. great story and u r so right about inheriting those old treasures, which are some of my most cherished stuff. Never know how achappam is made although it is a snack that I can't do with just one!

  11. hello shn,

    Your achappams looks soo yummy, this is one of my favorite snacks. I have never got a 100% success with these. I will defenitely try this out. Is there no need for soda bicarb or baking powder?

  12. Achappam...my most favourite snack. This is a staple during Christmas at my home. Thanks for the recipe...maybe I'll try it someday :)

  13. Very very cool! And VERY pretty! :) How lucky you are!

  14. Thank You,Mishmash! for the post.This is something I want to try for a long time.Also expecting Murukku, Halwa.....posts....:)

  15. Looks Yum Shn..Great job!
    The Pics impart the Crispness and Freshness Achappam We get from Kerala.

  16. I always wanted to make achappam. Thank you so much for sharing recipes.

  17. I have bought this from Kerala or mangalore stores in India, but always wondered about the shape..now I know:)

  18. I love this. I recollect calling it rose cookies and its pretty famous during christmas. My next door Chechi's makes this for xmas every year. Awesome pics and I have eaten most of the nadan snacks u have posted and its good to know the recipe for them. Did you get that 'achu' in US?

  19. Ho ithu kure nalayi undakkanam ennorkunnu....ippo nalloru recipe kitti...

  20. I have really fond memories of this snack! They look pretty and taste even better! Thanks for the step-by-step recipe, Shn!

  21. I love achappams :). I visit your blog whenever I miss my Mom's cooking. Your recipes are similar to how my Mom and her sisters cook food, reminds me of home.

  22. :-) well i forgive you for this coz i hope to have these in 3 weeks time..:-P

    achappam is one of the few naadan snacks i like..coz am not a fan of many other palaharams like kozhalappam..murukku..avuloseundaa..etc...but i love achappam!!

    it used be a regular as a tea time snack when i was a schoolkid..

  23. I was sort of idly contemplating some achchappams and unniappams for christmas when I saw this post link on a blog:-).

    I'm ok with making achchappams but the fear tht the achchappam will not come off halfway in the oil makes me shiver[happened to me 1st time last christmas;-/]. Mom told me to soak the ach in kanji vellam or tamirand water for 1 full day. Planning to do tht to be safe...do u have any ideas????

  24. u must have heard this before but let me tell u once again....ur pictures & the layouts are beautiful:-))

  25. Shn, I love those achappam, if only I can get eggless versions..would love if you can get me that recipe..:)

  26. Hey another of my fav snack :)
    ur mom is with u now? enjoy.. :)

  27. came across your blog accidentally and i love it! when i was a little girl my mom and i used to make rosette cookies. your post put a smile on my face. thanks. might be time to buy a rosette mold and follow your recipe to make more memories with my children.


  28. Bindhu, thank youuu....i don't know when i will gain that much courage...you were bent upon getting it right , i think...when u put ur heart into something, you must get it right....yeah, making rice flour at home is a bit tough job, atleast for me :P so making it this year again?

    Jayasree, not sure as my mother has never made them without eggs....please check other blogs and recipes, am sure someone must have found a suitable substitute ...sorry, cant be of much help here.

    Small Talk, diamond cuts spoon??? never heard of it....hmm...uruli , chattukam are all priceless....everyone has eye on such things...i have set my eyes on some more stuff, must catch hold of them on my next vacation :D ofcourse, whether it is ready made or home made, the fact that it is available in some form out there is better than it going extinct...and that way, it is ok if recipes evolve with time to suit our kitchen requirements....it's always a pleasure to read ur kochu varthanam thru the comment section...laptop back in action?

    Happy Cook, yeah..check with her for all the tricks of the trade and get her recipe as well..and share with us :)

    Twinsy, butterfly moulds, wow...that must be a pretty one...:) thanks for your mail with biryani feedback...will sure send a reply , hopefully tonight itself :)

    Jisha, yeah..sort of deep fried cookies only :) hope u havent forgotten to collect ur mom's recipe...for me , i didnt even have the courage to give it a try atleast once...now i feel i should have, just to get over that fear :)

    Indrani, Thanks for dropping by :) will sure check out your blog event and blog too...am sure it's a beautiful one :)

    Prathibha, yeah i have often seen them at ulsava parambu, palli perunnal and then in that huge palahara paatta :)

    Indo, thank you.

    Rachel, me too :)

    Faby, no my mother doesnt use either of that....just a bit of egg works fine.

    Mini, let me know your feedback then :)

    Shyam, :))

    TME, no murukku achu with me...halwa, yes will think about that one...but will take time for sure :)

    Revs, thanks dear:)

    Radha, thanks for following the blog and leaving few lines :)

    Supriya, that's so sweet :))

    Vijitha, yeah...it's also made during x'mas time....as for the achu, i inherited it from my mother's collection :)

    Tina, hmm..vegum poyi achu podi thatti edukkoo...

    Musical, pretty and tasty..u said it :) how re u??

    Mish, ?? !! glad to know that the recipes featured in here gives you a feel and taste of home...very glad to read your message ..thabk you :)

    Mathew, :))) am sure u tried poking ur tingers thru those achappam holes....didnt u?? :) i think every child loved doing such things :)

    Reflections, thanks for dropping and leaving such warm and sweet notes :) thank you . My mother suggests boiling the achu in tamarind water. Also check out the first comment here from Bindhu....u may try that as well...all the best :) Also, i saw mummy trying to spearate the achu with a wooden skewer, after frying in oil the first few m,inutes, for first few ones....have u tried that..? i forgot to add that in post, will update that as well.

    Srivalli, I wish I could but my mother has never tried without eggs :(

    Dhanya, yes...enjoying their second honeymoon :)

    Eryn, glad this blog helped you rekindle some of your fond memories....yes yes...recreate those precious moments with ur kids...am sure they would love it ..both making and eating :) Thanks for dropping by...


  29. Achappams are always a favourite. A good seasoned achappam mould and a desire to make them at home is a good place to start! :)

    Yours are perfect. I remember how thrilled the 3 of us were when mine turned out right finally!

  30. I got this recipe from my mom-in-law and also a new mould.... but haven't tried with it. I have tried with my old mould but never was quite successful. Will be trying it out tomorrow.


  31. I love Achappam - in India used to get it from a kerala store very regularly. Here, I make do with Amma's brand. Gotta try this out - Will ask mom to get the mould. Your recipes are good and the step by step details make it so easy.

  32. Followed your method step by step and voila,achappams turned out sepr good...my little one loved it, thank you


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