top shot of four appam on green plate with text layovers

Appam (also known as “palappam”) are tasty, lacy and fluffy pancakes or hoppers from the Kerala cuisine that are made from ground, fermented rice and coconut batter. Thin and crispy around the edges with soft fluffy center appam taste delicious when paired with vegetable stew for a hearty vegetarian breakfast. They also just so happen to be gluten-free and vegan.

overhead shot of kerala appams on a green plate with vegetable stew in white bowl placed on top

About This Appam Recipe

Appam is one of our favorite breakfast dishes, so I make them on the weekends at least once a month. The preparation is similar to making Dosa Batter, and needs some prep work beforehand.

Traditionally, appam are fermented with a local alcoholic drink known as toddy – which is a drink made from palm flower or coconut flower. Toddy, which is made from palm flower or coconut flower, is also known as “kallu” in Tamil and Malayalam or “tadi” in Hindi.

Since toddy is not readily available everywhere, I make these appam with yeast. Both dry active yeast and instant yeast works as a good fermenting agent and is easy to find the world over. This, however, does not mean that you cannot make appams without yeast; check out my recipe for No Yeast Appam.

Please note that there will be some flavor differences between appam made with toddy versus those made with yeast.

Appam can be made both dry active yeast or instant yeast (rapid rise yeast). I use either depending on what is there on hand. With instant yeast the fermentation time is very less as compared to fermentation with dry active yeast.

In this post I share both the methods of making palappam with these two types of yeast. The instant yeast is directly added to the batter. If using dry active yeast activate it in lukewarm water and then add it to the batter later.

To make these appam, I opted to add fresh grated coconut while grinding the batter instead of coconut milk. You can use coconut milk instead of grated coconut – about 1 cup of thick coconut milk will suffice. 

Appams are served with vegetable stew, kadala curry (chickpea curry), potato stew, vegetable kormacoconut chutney or coconut milk sweetened with jaggery.

To make my favorite sweet coconut milk for pairing with palappam, the coconut milk is sweetened with jaggery and flavored with cardamom powder. Pour the desired amount of coconut milk you wish to sweeten into a cup. Add powdered jaggery to taste, along with a bit of cardamom powder. Stir very well until the jaggery is dissolved. Enjoy!

closeup shot of appam on green plate

Step-by-Step Guide

How to Make Appam Recipe

Make Palappam Batter

1. First rinse 1.5 cups regular white rice (like sona masuri, parmal, surti kolam, or ponni rice) in water a few times. Then soak the rice with 2 cups of water in a bowl for 4 to 5 hours. While soaking cover with a lid.

You can use half-half of regular raw rice and parboiled rice. Here I have used sona masuri rice.

rice soaking in water in a steel bowl

2. Drain all the water and discard it. Add the drained, soaked rice to blender or grinder jar. Also add ½ cup grated fresh coconut, ¼ cup poha (flattened rice), ½ teaspoon salt and 2 tablespoons sugar.

Instead of flattened rice (poha or aval), you can use cooked or steamed rice or puffed rice (murmura).

rice in blender jar with coconut, pha, salt and sugar

3. Add ¾ cup water (or as needed) and blend or grind the ingredients to a smooth and fine flowing batter.

If in case, the batter looks thin, add a few tablespoons of rice flour to thicken it slightly.

ground appam batter in grinder jar

Leaven the Batter

Transfer the batter in a medium to large mixing bowl. Now you have two options when it comes to yeast. I have made this recipe many time with both the types of yeast.

With Instant yeast, the recipe just gets made quicker as the leavening and fermenting time reduces. I have included instructions for both.

4a. If using Dry Active yeast

Mix ½ teaspoon dry active yeast first in 1 to 2 tablespoons of lukewarm water. Add this yeast solution to the batter and mix well. Cover and allow to ferment for 8 to 12 hours, depending on the temperature conditions. The batter will rise and double up the next day.

4b. If using Instant Yeast

Add ½ teaspoon Instant yeast (rapid rising yeast). I have used instant yeast here.

yeast sprinkled atop appam batter in bowl

5. Mix thoroughly so that the fine yeast granules dissolves in the batter. Cover and set aside to ferment for 1 to 2 hours. You can also use the instant pot to ferment the batter.

stirring to dissolve the yeast

6. After leavening with instant yeast, this is how the batter should look. It will double in volume and you will see air-pockets everywhere.

I had to leaven the batter for a total of 1 hour and 15 minutes as it was a warm climate this day. A cooler weather will take more time.

properly fermented dough in a mixing bowl - it has doubled in size and has lots of air pockets

7. A well-fermented batter will have many tiny air-pockets.

fermented dough is filled with air pockets

Make Appam

8. Heat an appam pan or a seasoned kadai/wok with handles. Sprinkle about ½ teaspoon oil on the pan and spread it all over on the pan. If using nonstick kadai, then skip smearing the oil.

The appam pan or appachatti works best as you get soft fluffy texture in the center and crisp texture towards the circumference. Spread a ladle full of the batter (about ¼ to ⅓ cup) into the hot pan.

appam batter in heated pan

9. Turn and tilt the pan in circles so as to spread the batter into a round circle.

Regulate the heat as needed. If the pan becomes too hot, the batter cooks faster and you won’t be able to make a neat round batter with thin edges and a soft center. So you can reduce the heat or place the pan on the countertop and then pour the batter.

swirling dough around pan to create a round appam

10. Make a neat round circle of the batter. Keep the heat to medium-low or medium.

batter looks thin and lacy in the pan

11. You can also drizzle a few drops of oil on the sides if you prefer.

using a spoon to drizzle in some oil while appam cooks

12. Cover the pan with lid and let the appam cook for about 2 minutes or until the base becomes nicely light golden and the center firms up and becomes soft and fluffy.

lid atop pan on the flam

13. Remove and serve appam hot or warm. Repeat with remaining batter to make as may appam as you need. Store any remaining batter in the refrigerator and use within 1 day.

completed cooked appam is lightly golden around the edges of the pan

14. Appam goes very well with vegetable stew and sweetened coconut milk. I like to serve them with both! It can also be served with veg korma or potato stew.

four appam on green plate

Palappam FAQs

Why appam batter is not fermenting?

Yeast requires a warm environment to thrive, so the room temperature will affect fermentation. If the room is chilly, you’ll need to allow more time for fermenting.

Alternatively, you can create a “proofing box” with your oven – simply place a cake pan or other deep dish on the bottom shelf of your oven. Place the batter on the top shelf, then close the door. This will provide a nice environment for the yeast to do its work! Make sure the oven is switched off.

When should I add salt?

Salt can affect fermentation, so my recommendation is:
If you live in a warm or hot climate, then add salt before to avoid over fermentation.
If you live in a cool or cold place, then add salt once the batter is fermented.

Why are my appam breaking when I cook them?

Oops! Sounds like you added a bit too much water, making the batter too thin. Next time, reduce the amount of water you add when grinding. To fix this batch, try adding rice flour by the tablespoon until you achieve the batter consistency shown in the photos above.

Why are my appam sticky?

Uh-oh! Sounds like you over-fermented the batter. Try using the batter at an earlier stage, per the photos in the step-by-step instructions above.

How many palappam are in a serving?

I recommend 2 to 3 appam per person.

Can I make the batter ahead of time?

Appam batter will last in the fridge for 1 day; any longer and it will begin to turn sour.

What is the best way to prevent palappam from sticking together?

As you cook the appam, layer each with a sheet of parchment before stacking another on top.

What kind of rice should I use?

I suggest any short or medium grain variety of rice, but you can also use a longer grain rice like basmati. Just note that longer grain rice will yield a slightly different consistency than medium or short grained.

Can I use dried coconut instead of fresh?

You can use desiccated coconut, but the flavor will be different than fresh. You can swap in frozen coconut, though!

More South Indian Breakfast Recipes

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Appam (also known as “palappam”) are tasty, lacy and fluffy pancakes from the Kerala cuisine that are made from ground, fermented rice and coconut batter.

Prep Time 4 hrs

Cook Time 30 mins

Fermenting Time 1 hr 15 mins

Total Time 5 hrs 45 mins

Servings 15 appam

Prevent your screen from going dark while making the recipe

  • Rinse rice in water for a couple of times.

  • Soak rice in water for 4 to 5 hours.

  • Drain all the water and then add the soaked rice to mixer-grinder or blender jar. Also add the grated coconut, cooked rice or poha (aval or flattened rice), salt and sugar.

  • Add water and grind all the ingredients to a smooth flowing batter

  • Transfer the batter in a medium to large bowl.

  • With Instant Yeast: Sprinkle the Instant yeast (or rapid rising yeast) all over the batter. Mix thoroughly and evenly. Cover the bowl and set aside to ferment for 1 to 2 hours until the batter doubles in volume and has plenty of air-pockets.

  • With Dry Active Yeast: Take about 1 to 2 tablespoons of lukewarm water in a bowl. Then add the dry active yeast and stir to mix well. Add this yeast solution to the batter and mix thoroughly. Cover and keep aside for fermenting overnight or for 8 to 12 hours or more depending on the temperature conditions. The batter will rise and increase in volume the next day. * Check notes

  • Heat a kadai or an appam pan with handles at the sides. Spread some oil on the appam pan with a spoon. If using nonstick pan, then skip smearing the oil.

  • Spread a ladle full of the batter (about ⅓ to ¼ cup). Turn and tilt the pan so as to spread the batter to a neat round circle. Keep heat to medium-low or medium. Regulate the heat as needed when cooking.

  • Drizzle some oil on the sides if you prefer.

  • Cover the pan with a lid and let the appam cook. The base would become nicely light golden with crispy edges.

  • Gently remove the cooked appam with a spatula. Make the remaining batches of appam this way. If the pan becomes too hot then reduce the heat so that the batter is easy to spread when you tilt the pan.

  • Keep the prepared appams covered with a kitchen towel.

  • Serve the appam hot or warm with vegetable stew or coconut milk that has been sweetened with jaggery and flavored with a bit of cardamom powder.

  • If using coconut milk for grinding the rice, then keep a check on water. You may not need to add water or add very less amounts.
  • Instead of making the solution with dry active yeast, you can also add the dry active yeast granules in the blender or mixer-grinder while grinding the rice.
  • If the batter become too thin, then add some rice flour to it. The batter has a medium consistency. 
  • Use any short or medium-grained raw rice like sona masuri, parmal, ponni, kolam. You can also use an equal mix of raw rice and parboiled rice or idli rice. You can even use basmati rice.
  • The recipe is easily scalable to make a large batch for potlucks or get togethers. 
  • The approximate nutrition data is for one appam only.

Nutrition Facts

Appam Recipe

Amount Per Serving (1 appam)

Calories 90 Calories from Fat 9

% Daily Value*

Fat 1g2%

Saturated Fat 1g6%

Polyunsaturated Fat 1g

Monounsaturated Fat 1g

Sodium 81mg4%

Potassium 36mg1%

Carbohydrates 18g6%

Fiber 1g4%

Sugar 2g2%

Protein 2g4%

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 1mg67%

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 1mg59%

Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 1mg5%

Vitamin B6 1mg50%

Vitamin C 1mg1%

Vitamin E 1mg7%

Vitamin K 1µg1%

Calcium 7mg1%

Vitamin B9 (Folate) 14µg4%

Iron 1mg6%

Magnesium 6mg2%

Phosphorus 28mg3%

Zinc 1mg7%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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This Appam Recipe post from the archives (April 2014) has been republished and updated on 23 September 2021.