Discover Kerala Recipes: Mastering Traditional Fish Molee and Appam

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Written By Haryana’s Restaurant

Authentic Indian Food – Classic Indian Cuisine in Terrace BC

Imagine diving into a culinary treasure trove nestled in the lush landscapes of Kerala, where the aroma of spices fills the air and the flavors are as rich as the culture itself. Kerala cuisine, a gem from the southern tip of India, offers a delightful array of dishes that promise to transport your taste buds to a world of intense flavors and vivid textures. From the famous seafood-laden Malabar Coast dishes to the subtle, coconut-infused vegetarian delights, each recipe tells a story of centuries-old traditions and local ingredients.

As you explore these recipes, you’ll uncover the magic of tamarind, curry leaves, mustard seeds, and coconut milk, all staples that give Kerala food its distinctive taste. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a curious foodie, these dishes offer something unique and exciting, perfect for adding a tropical twist to your dining table. Let’s embark on this flavorful journey together, discovering the simplicity and sophistication of Kerala’s beloved cuisine.

Ingredients

Now that you’ve discovered the flavors of Kerala cuisine, let’s gather the ingredients needed to make some of its most beloved dishes. Here’s a straightforward list to help you prepare Fish Molee and Appam, two staple dishes that offer a genuine taste of Kerala.

  • 500 grams of firm white fish (like kingfish or cod), cut into pieces
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 10-12 curry leaves
  • 4 green chilies, slit
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper powder
  • 400 ml coconut milk
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • Salt, to taste
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 cup rice, soaked for 4-6 hours and drained
  • 1/2 cup grated coconut
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water (for activating the yeast)
  • Salt, as per taste
  • Water, as needed for grinding

Required Equipment

To perfectly capture the authentic flavors of Kerala recipes like Fish Molee and Appam, having the right equipment is crucial. Here’s what you’ll need to prepare these dishes correctly.

  • Heavy-Bottomed Skillet: Select a large, heavy-bottomed skillet or a non-stick pan. This is essential for cooking the fish evenly while preventing sticking.
  • Wooden Spoon: Use a wooden spoon for stirring the ingredients gently. This helps to avoid breaking the fish fillets.
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons: Accurate measurements of spices and liquids ensure the balance of flavors typical to Kerala cuisine.
  • Lid for the Pan: A lid is necessary to cover the skillet during simmering to ensure that the fish cooks thoroughly in the aromatic sauce.
  • Blender or Food Processor: To prepare the batter for Appam, you need a blender or food processor to achieve a smooth and fine consistency of rice and coconut mixture.
  • Non-Stick Appam Skillet: An Appam skillet, often round-bottomed, helps in giving the Appam its distinctive bowl shape.
  • Ladle: A ladle is essential for pouring the batter into the skillet. It helps control the amount and spread of the batter.
  • Kitchen Cloth: Keep a kitchen cloth handy to wipe down the skillet between batches to avoid sticking.

With these tools at your disposal, you’ll find that making Fish Molee and Appam is not only doable but also a delightful culinary exploration into Kerala’s rich gastronomic heritage.

Prep Instructions

Now that you have all your essential tools and ingredients ready, let’s dive into the preparation steps for two iconic Kerala dishes: Fish Molee and Appam.

For Fish Molee

  1. Clean and Prep the Fish: Start by cleaning 500 grams of firm white fish, such as cod or halibut, and cut into palm-sized pieces. Pat the pieces dry to ensure they brown nicely.
  2. Marinate the Fish: In a small bowl, mix 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder, 1 teaspoon of black pepper, and salt to taste. Rub this mixture on the fish pieces evenly and let them marinate for at least 15 minutes.
  3. Prepare the Base: Heat 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in your heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add 1 thinly sliced onion, 2 slit green chilies, and a few curry leaves, sautéing until the onions turn translucent.
  4. Cook the Fish: Place the marinated fish in the skillet and sear each side for about 2 minutes. Remove the fish and set aside.
  5. Make the Gravy: To the same skillet, add 1 cup of coconut milk and bring to a gentle simmer. Add 1 teaspoon of finely chopped garlic and ½ teaspoon of ginger paste, cooking for another minute.
  6. Combine and Simmer: Return the fish to the skillet, cover, and let it simmer for about 10 minutes or until the fish is cooked through. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Garnish and Serve: Garnish with chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lemon juice before serving.

Making the Appam Batter

  1. Prepare Appam Batter: In a blender, combine 1 cup of soaked raw rice, ½ cup of cooked rice, ¾ cup of grated coconut, 1 tablespoon of sugar, a pinch of salt, and 1 cup of water. Blend until you get a smooth, pourable batter.
  2. Ferment the Batter: Transfer the batter into a large bowl, cover with a kitchen cloth, and leave it in a warm place to ferment overnight, about 8 to 12 hours.
  3. Heat the Appam Skillet: Once the batter is fermented, stir it well. Heat your appam skillet on medium heat and lightly grease it with a few drops of coconut oil.
  4. Cook the Appam: Pour a ladleful of the batter into the center of the skillet. Quickly swirl the skillet to spread the batter in a thin layer around the edges with thicker consistency at the center. Cover and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes or until the edges have turned golden and crispy, and the center is fluffy.
  5. Remove and Serve: Carefully remove the appam from the skillet and serve hot with a side of your delicious Fish Molee or coconut chutney

Cooking Directions

Now that you have gathered your ingredients and tools, let’s dive into the step-by-step process to bring the flavorful dishes of Kerala to your table.

1. Prepare the Fish:

      • Begin by thoroughly rinsing 500 grams of firm white fish (such as kingfish) under cold water. Pat the fish dry, and cut it into medium-sized pieces.
      • In a small bowl, mix 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder, 1 teaspoon of red chili powder, and salt to taste. Rub this mixture evenly over the fish pieces and set aside for 15-20 minutes to marinate.

      2. Cook the Fish:

        • Heat 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, gently place the marinated fish pieces in the skillet.
        • Cook each side for about 2-3 minutes until the fish is golden brown. Be careful not to overcrowd the skillet. Once cooked, transfer the fish to a plate.

        3. Prepare the Gravy:

          • In the same skillet, add 1 sliced onion, 1 sliced green chili, and a few curry leaves. Sauté until the onions turn translucent.
          • Add 2 teaspoons of ginger-garlic paste and sauté for another minute until the raw smell disappears.
          • Pour in 200 ml of coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Add salt to taste and a pinch of pepper.

          4. Combine and Simmer:

            • Return the browned fish pieces to the skillet. Cover and let it simmer for about 10-15 minutes, or until the fish is fully cooked and the gravy thickens slightly.
            • Check the seasoning and adjust if necessary. Finish by sprinkling a handful of chopped cilantro over the top for added freshness.

            5. Serve:

              • Serve the Fish Molee hot, ideally with Appam or steamed rice, allowing the flavors to merge wonderfully as you enjoy this traditional Kerala dish.

              For Appam

              Following the delightful Fish Molee, you’ll want to perfect your Appam, a staple Kerala pancake known for its soft, fluffy center and crisp, lacey edges.

              Step 1: Prepare Appam Batter

              1. Combine Dry Ingredients: Start by mixing 1 cup of rice flour, 1/2 teaspoon of dry yeast, and a pinch of salt in a large bowl.
              2. Add Wet Ingredients: Slowly stir in 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1 1/2 cups of coconut milk to the dry mixture. Ensure that the sugar dissolves completely.
              3. Ferment the Batter: Cover the bowl with a cloth and set it aside in a warm place. Allow the batter to ferment for about 8 to 12 hours; it should double in size and show bubbles on the surface.
              4. Finish the Batter: Once fermented, add 1/4 cup of cooked rice and blend the mixture until smooth. Let it rest for another 1 hour before cooking.

              Step 2: Cooking the Appam

              1. Heat the Appam Pan: Heat an appam kadai or non-stick pan on medium heat. Brush lightly with oil if not using a non-stick surface.
              2. Pour the Batter: Ladle about 1/2 cup of batter into the center of the pan. Quickly swirl the pan to spread the batter evenly along the sides and then cover with a lid.
              3. Cook the Appam: Let it cook for about 2 to 3 minutes or until the edges have turned golden brown and crispy, and the center is firmly set.
              4. Remove and Serve: Carefully remove the appam from the pan. Serve hot with your Fish Molee or a coconut-based stew to enjoy a truly authentic Kerala feast.

              Assembling the Dish

              Now that you’ve mastered the components of two quintessential Kerala recipes—Fish Molee and Appam—it’s time to combine these dishes to create a culinary celebration.

              Serving Suggestions

              To serve, start by arranging the golden, crispy Appams on a large serving platter. Create a visually appealing arrangement by slightly overlapping each Appam so they fan out beautifully around the plate. Next, ladle generous amounts of the aromatic Fish Molee into a deep serving bowl, ensuring the succulent pieces of fish are on top, showing off their marination and the lush, creamy curry.

              For an authentic dining experience, place the Fish Molee in the center of the table surrounded by the platter of Appams. Invite your guests to tear pieces of Appam and dip them into the Fish Molee, soaking up the curry. Serve this dish hot to enjoy the fullest flavors. Optionally, you can enhance this meal with a side of pickled vegetables or a fresh coconut chutney, which complements the rich flavors of the molee and the mild, sweet undertones of the Appam. This combination not only tastes exquisite but also honors the traditional Kerala way of communal eating, making your meal a memorable one.

              Conclusion

              Exploring Kerala’s cuisine through dishes like Fish Molee and Appam not only tantalizes your taste buds but also immerses you in a cultural journey. By preparing these traditional recipes you’re embracing a culinary heritage that’s as rich as it is delicious. Don’t hesitate to arrange a communal dining experience at home. It’s a wonderful way to share the joy of Kerala’s flavors with your loved ones. So grab your ingredients and let the aromas of coconut and spices fill your kitchen!

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