Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Aapams/Hoppers (Rice and Coconut Pancakes)

Aapams, also known as hoppers, are delicate pancakes with crisp, lacy edges and a spongy soft center. They are traditional breakfast or brunch fare in Kerala, other neighboring states of India and Sri Lanka. Served with sweetened coconut milk, mild stews or spicy curries, aapams make a delectable repast; the spongy aapams readily soak up the coconut milk and syrup or gravy from the curries and become deliciously succulent.

The ingredient list for the batter is quite simple - mainly rice and coconut! Rice flour specially made for aapams are sold in Indian Markets and can be used instead of grinding the rice.

I like to store the freshly made batter overnight or for about 8 to 10 hours in the fridge to allow slow fermentation which develops a lovely flavor while still keeping the batter sweet - a secret I learned from baking bread :-). The batter must be allowed to ferment adequately to produce light and springy pancakes; if it is not, the result would be heavy and doughy pancakes.

6 - 8 Servings; about 24 aapams


2 cups Rice, any type
1/2 cup fresh/frozen grated Coconut
1 tsp dry yeast dissolved in 2 Tbsp of water
1 cup fresh/canned thick Coconut milk
1 tsp Sea Salt

Thick coconut milk, chilled and molasses or maple syrup to serve
Stew or Ishtu to serve
Chole, Kadala (Chana) Masala, or Mung Beans to serve


Wash rice and soak in fresh water to cover for a few hours or overnight; drain, rinse with fresh water, and grind along with the coconut and salt (if you are breaking a coconut, save the water and use for grinding the batter) into a smooth paste using just enough water to make grinding feasible.

Dissolve the yeast in a couple of tablespoons of water and stir into the rice batter until mixed well. Allow the batter to stand in a large covered container until risen, about 4 to 6 hours - the batter will rise to double in volume. 

Before preparing pancakes, whisk the coconut milk into the risen batter until well combined. The batter should be easily pour-able; thinner than a regular pancake batter. Add a little water if necessary to thin the batter to the right consistency.

Prepare the pan for cooking the pancakes; very lightly oil a small kadai or a skillet and heat it until a flick of water sizzles.  No additional oil is necessary for cooking the aapams since there is enough fat in the batter from the coconut and coconut milk.

Make small pancakes using about 1/3 cup of batter; swirl the pan gently to produce a thin border, cover, and cook for about a minute on low heat.  Cook a few seconds longer if you like the bottoms and the edges to become crisp. Aappams do not need to be flipped; the steam cooks it completely.

When the aapams are cooked, they will have changed color and become a bit shiny. Use a thin spatula to remove them from the pan; place them right side up on a plate or parchment lined baking sheet.

Proceed to prepare more pancakes as needed with the rest of the batter.  If the pan gets a bit sticky, use a paper towel lightly dipped in oil to wipe the pan clean.

Any leftover batter should be promptly refrigerated; it will last for about a week well chilled.

Serve hot with the suggested toppings or your favorite sides and curries. Enjoy!!

Aapams with Stew & Sweet Coconut milk

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