One (Christian) Kerala Easter tradition is to make Vattayappam on Holy Thursday. Vattayappam is a fermented coconut and rice batter spiced with cumin and cardamom then topped with ghee-roasted cashews and raisins. Every time I saw my mom making this, it was my countdown to Easter Sunday where, yes, you guessed it, more food traditions were involved.
Vattayappam is traditionally made during the Easter week, but is also enjoyed year-round.
- Long-grain rice (uncooked): 2 cups
- Warm water: 1/4 cup
- Sugar: 1/2 tsp
- Yeast: 1/2 tsp
- Cooked Rice: 1/2 cup
- Grated Coconut (fresh or frozen): 1 cup
- Sugar: 1/2 cup
- Salt: 1/4 tsp
- Cardamom (ground): 8 pods
- Cumin (ground): 1/4 cup
- Raisins: 1/4 cup
- Cashews: 1/4 cup
- Ghee: 1 tbsp + more for greasing
HOW TO MAKE IT
In a bowl, add the uncooked long-grain rice and wash it 2-3 times to remove any excess gluten. Now, fill the bowl with water so that the rice can soak in it for 4-6 hours or overnight. *I like to soak my rice in coconut water for a hint of sweetness.
After the rice is soaked, drain the water and add it in a blender along with the cooked rice and grated coconut. Blend this until smooth. (It will have very little grit to it FYI). Pour this batter into a bowl.
In a small bowl, add the warm water and mix in the ½ tsp of sugar until it is dissolved. Once dissolved, add the yeast and let it proof for about 10 minutes. It is proofed when it has become bubbly/frothy. Once proofed, mix this in to the batter really well along with the remaining sugar and salt and let ferment for 4-6 hours or overnight. After 4-6 hours, the batter will expand and form an airy layer on top – that’s a good sign of fermentation.
Once the batter is fermented, mix in the ground cardamom and cumin. This is also a time to check for sugar and salt. I personally like my batter to have a lighter sweetness to it.
In a small frying pan on medium low heat, add about a tablespoon of ghee. Once melted, add the cashews and raisins and lightly fry just until the edges of the cashews become brown. *You can skip this step altogether if you prefer.
Now it’s time to steam the vattayappam. You can use a ghee-greased 10” diameter steel pan or, I used an idli steamer. Pour the batter into the greased pan until it is about 3/4 full. Sprinkle the cashews and raisins on top so that each slice gets a little bite of each. Steam this for 10-15 minutes or until springy and firm. *You can also add the cashews and raisins about halfway through steaming if you prefer. Let cool, then remove from pan. Done!