I'm dreaming of a white Christmas... in Hong Kong. So, instead of just dreaming of one I've decided to cook up one! Enter steamed rice cakes. <3
Our "White Christmas" with Vattayappams
Va-tta-yap-pum. For that "tta" roll your tongue and say the letter "T".
So let's break it down a little. "Vattam" means "round" in Malayalam and "appams" are steamed rice pancakes made with fermented rice batter and coconut milk. Together, they make "Vattayappam"! Round steamed rice pancakes. Fun fact, "vatta" without the "m" means "crazy" so remember to pronounce that "y"!! I may have made that mistake and got chided when telling Acha (father) what I'd planned for our Christmas meal... hehe whoops!
Vattayappams are usually made for tea. It's sweet and light, usually topped with raisins and cashew nuts. Also, a really healthy snack alternative as it's steamed rather than fried or deep fried. It's also really, really easy to make once you've got the ingredients and the proper kitchen essentials (see below). It's the perfect accompaniment to masala chai.
Nevertheless, we don't usually make vattayappam here in HK (none of us are actually home during "tea time" during the week ergo, no tea time snacks) so we weren't kitted out with the suitably shaped moulds. The mould is basically like a cake tin except it can comfortably fit into a pressure cooker in which the vattayappam is steamed. So instead we got creative and used idli moulds instead! They've turned out so amazingly cute! I've decided this is the new way I'm going to make them from now on. It's still round, it's still made using the appam batter but it's smaller, cuter and bite-sized so we're calling them 'Mini Steamed Rice Cakes'. :D Uh, we may have used up all our creative juices when we decided to use the idly moulds...
Soft, fluffy scrumptiousness. I wonder how it would taste with cranberry sauce... now there's a thought now that we're in full-fledged Christmas mode...!
A Quick Note
These cuties can be eaten piping hot right after it's been steamed either as is or with chutney (as pictured). Or, it can be refrigerated for later noms. Just a word of advice: refrigerating it makes these steamed rice cakes lose a bit of their water content, so make sure you sprinkle them with a bit of water before heating it up in the microwave for it to be just as delicious as eating them fresh out the steamer.
Blender, pressure cooker and idli mould.
Blender - to puree all the ingredients to get a smooth smoothie-like texture.
Pressure cooker - to steam the mini rice cakes
Quick tip: as we're steaming these rice cakes, when using the pressure cooker, no need to keep the weight on. The weight releases all the water vapour - water vapour that's key for steaming our mini cakes!
Idli mould - the mould we've used to make the bite-sized vattayappams.
1. Mix 1/4 cup warm water with yeast and sugar. Let sit for 30 minutes till this mixture becomes frothy.
2. Mix 2 tbs rice flour with 1 cup water and boil for 5 minutes. Let cool.
3. Into a blender add this mixture to the remaining rice flour, water, coconut milk, cardamom and salt. Blend for approx. five minutes or until the batter is thick like a smoothie (or like the consistency of an idli batter).
4. Leave overnight in a warm place (at least for 8 hours)
5. Spread ghee evenly into the pits of the idli mould. Spoon in the batter into the moulds till they're 3/4 full. Garnish with cashew nuts and raisins (or any other dried fruits and nuts).
6. Add 1.5 inches of water into the pressure cooker (pc). Boil. Lower heat to medium flame.
7. Place the idli mould into the pc and cover (don't add the weight). Steam for 20 minutes.
8. Remove from pc, let cool, remove from mould and serve :)
Note: This yields 48 pieces. You can store in refrigerator for up to a week. When serving, reheat the mini rice cakes in a microwave with a sprinkling of water to retain moisture.
**Nutrition Facts as calculated by myfitnesspal.com