Chakka Appam or Kumbil Appam is an authentic dish belonging to 'God’s own country'.
The sweet bits of Jack fruit bulbs incorporated with rice flour and jaggery, the wet dough wrapped and rolled carefully in bay leaves, pinned up using the tender midribs of coconut palm leaves, steam cooked to perfection, is indeed a delicacy, worth trying!.
This is my first entry to RCI-Kerala hosted by Jyothsna.
To Yield about 20,
Ripe Jack fruit Bulbs (preferably Varikka chakka) ,chopped fine-1/4 kg or 2 cups
Molasses/jaggery(preferably karutha sarkara of Kerala),scraped or broken to lumps-1/4 kg
Grated coconut, ground coarse-1 cup
Rice flour-2 cups
Cardamom, powdered-1/4 tsp
1. Melt Jaggery in ½ cup water, filter impurities and boil till thickens to attain the consistency of honey, in a broad and thick bottomed pan.
2. Add the chopped fruit pieces and grated coconut into the syrup and mix for a couple of minutes to blend well.Turn off the flame.Cool down to bearable warmth.Add rice four, 1/2 cup at a time, cumin seeds, salt and knead well to form a soft batter.Add water if necessary or the dough is too thick.This should neither be too thick nor too loose so as to wrap in the bay leaves.
3.Drop a tbsp of batter or more according to the size of the leaf, at one end, centred.
4. Wrap and roll the leaf to a cone shape so as to cover the batter. Secure the main stem of the leaf by tucking into the batter as in the picture.
Tiny pieces of the mid rib of a tender coconut leaf(eerkkili) is also used as a pin to secure the edge of the leaf to the cone body. Steam cook for 20 minutes.If you pressure cook, avoid inserting the ‘weight-knob’ on the lid. Serve appams when cooled down to room temperature.
Note-Jack fruit pulp is commonly used to make these, but I used chopped bits.Traditionally the ripe bulbs of Koozha chakka,the pulpy variety are scrubbed on the rough surface of an inverted hand woven basket, a kotta, to collect the pulp!..one of the methods people used to follow, those olden days before the birth of electrical blenders, juicers or mixers!!...So the pulp can
be extracted by the modern methods and can be proceeded..
Kumbil appam can also be prepared using Chakka varatti (the picture in the right) or the Jack fruit preserve, with minimised efforts.
One has to add rice powder, coconut gratings etc to the varatti, directly and proceed.The featured ones here were made like wise.
I followed rough line measurements for the same. A cup of chakka varatti was mixed with 1/2 cup each of rice flour and finely grated coconut, 1/4 tsp coarsely crushed cumin seeds, a pinch of salt and 'no' cardamom..(I love the natural cinnamony flavour contributed by the vazhana ila)were all blended with just enough warm water to make a soft dough and coned with the leaves after checking the sweetness. Steam cooked for 20 minutes.
The Fresh Green Bay leaf used for wrapping imparts that distinct, heavenly ‘Cinnamony’ flavour to the Appam.Yes, the leaf falls under the category of 'Bay leaves'.I am not sure whether these are the regular Tej patta. Commonly known as Kumbil ila ,Vazhana ila or Edana ila, in the state, I tried my best to search the sources in the net.The image here shows the closest properties of the leaves, but dried.
The quest continues..where did the delicacy originate?..Central Kerala?.. Palai to be precise?..Requesting my blogger friends to share any more news about the same.
Updated- Jan 17 '08
Aparna, one of my enthusiastic blogger friends, had been so sweet to mail me the following-
This is the info. I've been able to gather.
1. Kumbil appam is also called Vaavu Appam by some communities in Kerala (seems to be mostly towards the south of Kerala and in Trivandrum) as they make it when performing "bali"/ remembering those who have passed on, during Karkataka Vaavu. Other communities prepare the Ela Ada for this ritual and prepare the Kumbil Appam as a sweet during the Jackfruit season.
2. The "edana" leaf that is used to make them is not the same as the cinnamon/ bay leaf. The edana leaf does have a somewhat cinnamon flavour and looks a little like the cinnamon leaf but is longer in shape.
Hugs to you !! Aparna :)
Rajani of vegetarian in ME has come up with her awesome step by step illustrations of making the same. A must see!!..
Great work Rajani! :)