Sunday, August 3, 2008

Kerala food: Peechappam, a forgotten item?

How many people make peechappam (it may have other local names) these days? When I asked Velayudhan, our chief cook at Thekkanattu Parayil, Olavipe, to make peechappam, he had to think for a minute to remember the item.

Peechappam is a tender steamed rice cake. The name means squeezed appam. The prepared dough is squeezed in the palm before steaming, and the fingers leave dimples on it. Though easy to make, tasty and versatile, it is lesser known than the other famous Kerala appams like palappam (lace hopper) and idiyappam (string hopper).

Peechappam is an anytime food – breakfast, lunch, dinner. It goes well with pickles, curries, preserves, honey, syrup, and chutney.

A modified version is to make patty shaped stuffed peechappams. There is a large choice of fillings – vegetables, shrimps and other seafood, cheese, corned beef, sliced sausages, chopped bacon rashers or ham and so on. It can be an excellent snack or a full meal.

The basic recipe for peechappam is:
2 cups rice flour
1 cup grated coconut (not too mature). The coconut can be coarse or fine grated, or even ground, according to preference.
Jeera to taste (Powder, crushed or whole)
Salt to taste.

Method:
Mix the ingredients in hot water
Squeeze small portions of the dough with fingers. If stuffing is used, place it inside the dough, roll into balls and shape them.
Steam till done. (Note: Over steaming will make the appam hard.)

I have translated the recipe Velayudhan wrote down for me in Malayalam. Photos (copyright reserved) are by Rijo (top) and me. The first one is the traditional peechappam Velayudhan made yesterday. It was more succulent. The stuffed ones were made by an assistant cook today. They are a bit too hard.

Click on the images to enlarge them.

Ends.

Also see Kerala Food: Breakfast range

4 comments:

Kariyachan said...

This snack, We (Myself, sister and bro) used to have it during our school days. Ammachi (Grandmother) used to make it always, and we children called it "poocha pidi" instead of peechipidi, and I always ate them as if I was taking a bite on an imaginary 'cat'.

In our house the filling usually was 'jagerry or white sugar + coconut'

How many people of my generation have eaten delights like 'Kumbil' made of Jackfruit + flour (koozhachakka) wrapped in 'edana' leaf and steamed in an appachembu, then 'orotti', 'ada', kozhukotta etc?

Not to forget our Syrian Christian staple 'Pidi and Kozhi'

Then the goddies like manga-thera, chakka-thera , avalos unda etc.
Mouth Watering..

RAJI MUTHUKRISHNAN said...

This sounds interesting - and clever to have given the recipe too.
I shall try it out definitely.

Abraham Tharakan said...

Thanks, Kariyachan. Your comment brought me a nostalgic mood.

Abraham Tharakan said...

Raji, I hope your attempt to make peechappam was successful. I forgot to mention that the recipe is only indicative. Some adjustment may be required.