Appam mix in India: just ground rice, lentils, and yeast

What always puzzled me about mixes I’d see that were imported from India was that you would rarely see any artificial colorings or ingredients on the ingredients list the way you do here in the U.S. You would simply see the ingredients you’d expect to see. For example, appam, a rice/lentil based hopper that is popular in the state of Kerala, is traditionally made with ground rice and lentils, fermented with toddy, but in modern times, people use yeast. If you saw a mix like this made in the U.S,, it would probably have all these weird preservatives, artificial colorings and flavor enhancers. But the mix I got for almost nothing at a Hypermarket in Kochi when we were there in June just had three ingredients listed: ground rice, ground lentils, and yeast. Nothing more, nothing less. I also noticed the expiration date meant the shelf life of this mix would be far shorter than anything made here, but maybe that was the point: it’s fine to have mixes in India, but you just have to use them within a shorter period of time to ensure it doesn’t go rancid, plus it doesn’t NEED anything to preserve it to last longer.

So I used it today, simply adding some sugar, a pinch of salt, water, and 1/2 cup of coconut milk. The batter easily rose and grew poofy. I was out of practice making appams, though, and had to add a lot more water to get the right crepe-like consistency of the batter. But when I finally got that right, plus the temperature of the appam pan, the batter sizzled on contact with the pan, plus the nice lacy edges we associate with appams started appearing. I was getting back into practice with this process, and it was so much fun!

So I suppose my vilification of pre-made mixes is really just about American ones with all their gross preservatives and artificial flavorings and ingredients. I can definitely get behind the Indian mixes more fully and more often!

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