Cooking Challenge: Homemade Appams and a Spicy Shrimp Curry

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Shrimp Curry

I have been obsessed with curries lately. Japanese curries made with dashi, Vietnamese curries infused with lemongrass, Thai curries in all their colors (red, green, yellow and could we pretend that penang is a color?), and of course the endless combinations of spices that make up Indian curries (which are quite prevalent here in Dubai).

And when I say “lately,” I mean the last couple of months. I just can’t get over how the same combination of dry spices infused with different stocks and other flavorings can transform into completely different dishes. I LOVE IT!

I made a shrimp curry and appams for the August Daring Cooks challenge and yes, I know it’s October and that I’m very late but I couldn’t not post it because I really enjoyed this challenge and loved the shrimp curry.

Mary, who writes the delicious blog, Mary Mary Culinary was our August Daring Cooks’ host. Mary chose to show us how delicious South Indian cuisine is! She challenged us to make Appam and another South Indian/Sri Lankan dish to go with the warm flat bread.

I’ve never made Indian flat bread before and have always wondered if I had it in me to make my favorite garlic naan or roti? I never thought that the first flat bread I would attempt would be appams, which I’d only had once in my life (I think). Appams are yeasted bread made from fermented rice and are popular in South India and Sri Lanka.

 To make the appams, I followed the recipe here – bascially, I soaked uncooked basmati rice in water for a couple hours, drained it, and pulsed it (in a blender) with a concoction of sugar, water, and yeast until it became a smooth paste. The mixture was then left to ferment for 12 hours.

After fermenting, I added coconut milk to the mixture and ladled about 1/2 cup onto an oiled non-stick pan and cooked it (covered) for 2-3 minutes.

And these white pancake-like creations were what resulted:

Homemade Appams
Homemade Appams

It may have been too thick or too thin – I have no idea. The only time I’ve ever had an appam may have been a few months ago at Aappa Kadai in Dubai Marina. But for the life of me I can’t remember what those tasted like nor what their texture and thickness were like so I’m not sure if mine tasted authentic.

I do know that my homemade appams tasted like a yeasty spongy crepe. They were slightly sweet, soft, and most importantly, edible.

Homemade Appams with Shrimp Curry
Homemade Appams with Shrimp Curry

The appams purpose in life is to soak up all the yummy goodness of a spicy curry and to that end, I made a curry of Shrimp in Coconut Milk (Chemeen Pappas) from Savoring the Spice Coast of India by Maya Kaimal. The recipe was also provided on the Daring Cooks site.

Homemade Appams
Homemade Appams

To make this spicy shrimp curry, mustard seeds were sauteed in oil. Those mustard seeds snap-crackle-popped out of the pot and all over my stovetop. I had to put a lid on them to keep them from escaping. I enjoyed the popping part so much that I threw out the first bunch of mustard seeds and sauteed a new batch just to hear them pop all over again.


Alright, you got me. I threw out the first batch because I burned them all. Snap-crackle-popped  quickly became a sad, slow, sizzle of smoke and burnage.

With the second batch, I lowered the heat and that did the trick of not burning all the mustard seeds. Here is a slide-show of the rest of the shrimp curry preparation:

[galobj viewid=29]

For the sauce, instead of water, I used shrimp stock made from the shells for a richer taste. It was too fishy for my husband Scotch. I’m not talking about the shrimp curry though.

Since August was as usual unbearably hot and humid outside, I couldn’t open the balcony doors for ventilation and I think it smelled of shrimp within a 2-floor radius. As soon as you came out of the elevators on my floor you were instantly slammed with the smell of shrimp stock (or “pong” as Scotch likes to call it)…for days.

Sorry neighbors.

Appam and Shrimp Curry

I for one really enjoyed the dish and its infusion of coriander and parika.

And I can now say that I have fermented rice. I always get excited when learning a new technique to make something new. Don’t you?

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  1. I am a fan of curries. I haven't tasted the curry and appams combo before but I could imagine them tasting so good. It is hard reading this post in such an empty stomach. Thank you for the recipe on the appams. I am excited to taste them myself.

  2. Your appam and shrimp curry look amazing, and thanks for participating! The pictures make me want to revisit this challenge, though I'll stick with one or two side dishes instead of the insane amount I made preparing for the challenge. Great idea to use shrimp stock instead of water. I think the smell is fair game for my noisy neighbour, don't you?


  3. Wow,you did a good job for a first timer! Appam looks great and prawn curry is one of my favorites though I use mild spices and cook entirely of thinned coconut milk.We use it with rice for lunch and dinner won't be complete without crusty bread to mop up the gravy from the plate.Yumm…I've got some pics of the curry I cooked yesterday and will be posting soon.

  4. I usually steer clear from 'ladling' and 'twisting' and 'rolling'- i can barely make chapati to please my parents…so well done you! The Appams and curry look beautiful…

  5. i usually add coconut (almost a whole one) and grind it together with the soaked rice, then ferment it over night with yeast.. Its a breakfast regular at my place!we make it with egg curry or mutton stew… So proud of you for trying something so different!!!!

  6. Really impressed by your effort.. Wish I had the courage and determination like you to try the different flavours and cuisines.. I guess I am afraid to go out of my comfort zone.. Those appams have the perfect texture. Appam and prawns – perfect combo 🙂