November 30, 2006

WBB7-Kalthappam/ Rice Cake with Jaggery

Kalthappam is a not so well known bread/cake/appam from the Malabar households. The texture is somewhere in between that of bread and cake so I don’t really know where to classify it. It is a baked/steamed mixture of ground rice, sweetened with jaggery(unrefined sugar) and has crunchy bits of chopped coconut to add texture.

Maybe it originated as baked version of Neiyyappam, that yummy fried fritters made of a similar mixture. Unniappams are also similar,but kalthappams are not so moist.
At my house, mom makes it as a snack for those in between times, when you are walking around, raiding the refrigerator, looking for something to satisfy the munchies. I make it once in a while and eat it as a snack as well as breakfast.It is healthy as it doesn't have any eggs or butter or too much sugar.

The taste is unique due to the shallots, coconut oil and coconut pieces. Shallots (I may have mentioned earlier too) balance the sweetness and is essential to the taste. Though the idea is foreign to one who hasn’t tasted it, using shallots in sweet dishes is similar to using spices in cakes.
You will need:
Basmati/Biryani Rice -2 cups soaked for 6 hours.
Cooked rice (same rice as above) -1 cup
Jaggery – 1 ½ to 2 cup
Baking powder -1 teaspoon
Salt -a pinch
Coconut oil -2 or 3 tablespoons
Chopped Coconut Pieces -1/4 cup finely chopped
Shallots/ Red pearl onions -1/4 cup finely chopped

1. Melt the jaggery in 1/2 cup of water and allow it to cool. The quantity of jaggery to be used usually depends on the sweetness of the jaggery. If there is more water inadvertently, let it thicken over low heat. Strain it and use this liquid while grinding the rice. The thicker the jaggery water, the easier it would be to grind the rice without additonal water.
2. Drain the soaked rice and mix it with the cooked rice. Grind the rice and the cooked rice together to a fine consistency with the jaggery water. Do not add water unless absolutely neccessary and even add little at a time. The final consistency should be thicker than a pancake or dosa batter.
3. Then add salt, baking powder, and few chopped coconut pieces and mix well. In a pressure cooker (or a heavy bottom pan/cast iron deep skillet) heat the coconut oil and add the remaining chopped coconut and shallots. Saute for about a minute on medium heat till the shallots turn golden brown.
4. Pour the lukewarm rice mixture into the cooker. Close cooker and remove the weight. Cook for 2 minutes on a high flame. Next lower the flame and cook for 15-20 minutes on an extremely low flame. Remove from fire and open the lid after 5minutes. 5. When it is a bit cool, run a blunt knife along the edges to loosen the appam and remove from the cooker. The bottom would be dark brown with the onions and coconuts while the top is a honey brown. The final texture should be of deep crevices and tunnels vertically. Store in the refrigerator for upto 3-4 days.

P.S. It is recommended to get the whole ground rice mixture a little warm before you pour it into the cooker to distribute the heat evenly top to bottom. Whenever I tried warming the mixture on the flame, I ended up cooking it so either I do without it (grinding it in the processor makes it warm) or I heat the whole mixture in the microwave for about 15-20 seconds.

A Disclaimer: The kind of rice you use to make this decides the texture of this appam. I think basmati (I used Pari this time) would be fine, but again there are lots of basmati out there. I have had disasters with this earlier, with it being sticky, not rising, getting over burnt and so on.
Also, it cooks better on stove top. I tried baking it and didn’t like the texture. The pressure cooker is the best but if you are using a pan, it has to be at least 2 inches deep and have a thick bottom to prevent burning. So have patience and try it. I still can’t make it as well as back home but I will keep updating this post with inputs whenever I make it.
If anybody has more experience making it, please leave your suggestions and comments.

This is my Entry for - WBB #7/Baking for Breakfast hosted by Nandita of Saffron Trail.
RP just reminded me of the JFI event which had slipped my mind, so this is my entry for the JFI-Jaggery Hosted by the lovely Kay of "Towards a Better Tomorrow" as well.


Meeta K. Wolff said...

That cake does look great Shaheen. Never really tried something like this and it all sounds intriguing.


sra said...

Hi Shaheen, I bought this in a famous bakery when I went to Kochi/Cochin, was not too impressed with the taste or texture but yours looks superb and like it would taste miles better too! I think our hostel cook used to give us a much thinner version for tea time now and then! We simply called them pancakes!

Gattina Cheung said...

Shaheen, sorry I lack of word to praise about your lovely recipe as I have no knowledge about Indian cuisine. But do you have particular brand for Basmati you recommend (for regular meal)? I bought some from Wal-mart and western supermarket (imported from India), they didn't taste good.
The pretty dark lighting creates an interesting effect on your photos this time, I can see more about the food texture, and even a golden glow behind, pretty!

Anonymous said...

Looks amazing shaheen..... never came across anyhting like this.... great recipe. :)

Bong Mom said...

Great recipe shaheen...never heard about this totally new for me.
The pic looks amazing

Anonymous said...

Shaheen, that looks so good. Never heard of that name before. but the picture conveys that it's unbelievably yummy! Wish I had a piece of it rite now to go with my black tea. :)

indosungod said...

Shaaheen that is indeed a delicious recipe. There is alwasy something new to think about in all of your recipes.

Krithika said...

This one looks fabulous ! Never have heard or tasted this one.

Anonymous said...

Is this not an entry to JFI for jaggery too?

I wanted to make this when shynee made it, but couldn't make it yet. I think she baked it. Do you make this in a hawkins cooker?

FH said...

Wonderful looking cake and with yummy Jaggery too:))

We do make Idli and dosa with Jaggery similar to this.Cake is unusual.Thanks girl.

Anonymous said...

I have never heard of Kalthapam before. Love jaggery and rice combo especially in neiappam. Brilliant idea of adding coconut and iam curious to know how shallots enhances the taste in this appam, will have to try it out soon.

Anonymous said...

i too haven't heard of this,Shaheen..but looks amzing...Thanks again..

Nabeela said...

wow..shallots in cake...that is pretty unique

Anonymous said...

rice, jaggery n coconut when comes together in any form gives an unique taste. i hav nvr tried making k appam, as i know the odds against it high.
i'am impressed girl.
but with ur step by step recipe, i think i'll give it a try.

Unknown said...

Looks delicious..never tried this.One of my girlfriend from kannur used to brings us this kalthappam and vellayappam during our college days.Now i got the perfect recipe..will try myself soon...thanks

Anonymous said...

Hi Shaheen, it looks beautiful! Would love just a little bite if you don't mind... :)

Shah cooks said...

Meeta, It is a nice cake but not cake in the real sense.

Sra,There are versions of this all around and I do hope u just had a bad experience. I like it so can't think of anyone not liking it. pancake does sound good. have to try it.

gattina, Thanks! cominmg form u, any praise is good. I use Pari/Tilda/Lal Qila basmati. I still think the basmati in India really has a different fragrance.

Rooma, sandeepa, it is a very rustic recipe. Do try with one cup rice and see if u like it.

Babli,Sorry, foergot to answer ur ques. last time. i live off Randolphille road. And coem over for tea anytime.:)

Indo, i feel that way abt ur recipes and ur news bites..

Krithika, It is not so famous.U probably have heard of the more popular Kinnathappam.

Rp, Thanks!i had forgotten the JFI. And yes, I do have Hawkins cooker and I made it in that.Baking makes it very dry, so i prefer steaming.

Asha, do blog abt ur idli with jaggery.sounds good.

Priya, Annita, Nabeela, i wish I could make u taste it and then ask u to make it. It is such a unique taste that I am skeptical of telling every one to make it.If u don't get it right then u would always think of it adversely.

Ki and Maheshwari, Since u already know how it tastes, hope u would make it soon.

Linda, go ahead and have some.:)

Anonymous said...

What an interesting recipe. A cake like sweet with shallots.

We also prepare a similar sweet but without shallots called chalimidi mudda.

Thanks for participating in Jihva, Shaleen!

Anonymous said...

Shaheen: Apologies for the spell mistake.

Meena Kandlakuti said...

Great entry for jhiva for jaggery.shall try thos one soon..thanks for sharing the picture:-))

Mythreyee said...

Your Recipe sounds interesting Rice Cake with Jaggery. and thanks for Sharing this wonderful Recipe.

Shaheen thanks for dropping at my site, and if time permits, drop by at


Anonymous said...

Hi Shaheen...
i too love kalthappam...but never thought of making it before...was thinking if the texture would get any better if completely steamed in a separate dish in a pressure cooker rather than cook it in the same...i hope u understood wat i meant!!!

Shah cooks said...

Indira, Would be good to see ur recipe for it. :)

Meena, Thanks!

Mythiri, Will surely drop in on ur site..Thanks.

RAshmi,Great idea. I will try it like that next time.Only fallback would be that u won't get the crunchy crust at the bottom.

Mandira said...

Shaheen, the cake looks delicious. I have never tried this cake before... would love to... someday :)

ByTheBay said...

Hi there. When you refer to a "cooker" what is it that you're talking about? I would love to make this recipe but am confused about this part... Thanks!

Shah cooks said...

By the bay, the cooker I have referred to is the Pressure cooker present in almost all Indian kitchens. Any heavy bottom pan or a dutch oven might work instead.

Anonymous said...

hi Shaheen,
your kalthappam is aunt used to make this but instead of basmathi rice she uses rice flour which we use to make puttu.its good and easy because when she makes puttu for breakfast she keeps some riceflour aside to make kalthappam for evening snack

Anonymous said...

i used to make kalthappam,but i don't use baking soda.otherthing,
i grind the rice separately and add hot jaggery water into it.This is so famous in thalassery kannur side....i am a huge fan of this dish...keep posting more malbar dishes

ras said...

I made it today.. the texture was not pefect... but it tasted yummy.. i'll keep on trying..
Thanks buddy...