How to Make South Indian Appam, Dosai and Mutton Curry

I had a bit of a culture shock when I first arrived in Australia and found the Indian food available in this country (and much of the West, as it turns out) to be very different to the Indian food I grew up eating in Malaysia. That was when I learned the difference between the North Indian curries found in Indian restaurants here, which are usually yoghurt-based, and the South Indian curries of Malaysia, which are coconut-based.

When I found out Divya of is from South India, I couldn’t resist inviting her to be a guest cook on my Twitch Live Asian Kitchen.  She made 2 different types of pancakes – appam (hers is visually very similar to Malaysian apam, but texturally different and more rubbery), dosai (or dosa as she spells it) – and mutton curry, which tasted in hindsight virtually identical to my Spicy Lamb and Potato Curry which I used to sell as a frozen meal, for those of you who still remember those good old days.

Some key new facts I learned during this broadcast –

  1. Rather than using coconut milk or coconut cream, Divya uses frozen grated coconut which she grinds to a paste.
  2. Raw rice – refers to a variety of rice you’ll find at your local Indian store; it’s used to make appam batter.
  3. Par-boiled rice – another variety of rice, also known as idli rice, also found at your local Indian store. It’s *not* boiled rice as in cooked rice.
  4. Urad dal – a type of lentil soaked, ground and added to the batter to produce a softer texture.
  5. The pancake batters may sound like hard work, but they’re actually really simple (according to her anyway), and she makes a batch of both every Sunday and keeps them in the fridge for use throughout the week.
  6. The dosai batter can also be used for idli, which are these steamed round white mini pancakes that are similarly eaten with curry or sambar.

Full replay of the Live Asian Kitchen broadcast here >>

The following recipes are from Divya’s website, and she mentions the use of a grinder (check out the pic of it in her post –, which I’m going to go out on a limb and assume  the average Australian household lacks.

I’ll have a go at making the batter using my good old Thermomix and report back if it doesn’t pan out.



How to Make South Indian (as opposed to Malaysian) Appam


3 cups Raw Rice

1 cup Idli Rice

¼ cup Urad Dal

1.5 cups grated fresh (ie. frozen) coconut

1.5 cups water or coconut water

Salt as required

Baking soda



  1. Soak raw rice, idli rice and urad dal together for 3 hours. Drain.
  2. Grind the coconut to a smooth paste, then add rice and urad dal and ½ cup of water.
  3. Grind to a paint-like consistency, adding more water if required.
  4. Transfer into a container, then add salt and coconut water.
  5. Ferment at room temperature for 10-12 hours.
  6. To make appam, take one cup of batter and add a pinch of baking soda and enough water to thin it down to a pouring consistency.
  7. Heat appam pan (it looks like a mini non-stick wok with a lid; a regular frying pan is an acceptable substitute), then pour a ladle of batter on it.
  8. Swirl the mixture to create a thin outer layer, but allow the batter to pool in the middle. Cover and cook for 2 minutes or until the bubbles pop; the appam should have a pillowy centre and a lacy outer layer.
  9. Remove and set aside; repeat with the rest of the batter.
  10. Serve with curry or sugar and coconut.

How to Make Dosai


4 cups Idli Rice (aka parboiled rice)

1 cup whole urad dal (without skin)

½ tsp fenugreek seeds (optional)

Salt as required

Water as required

Ghee for cooking


  1. Soak idli rice and fenugreek seeds for 2 ½ hours.
  2. Soak urad dal for 30 minutes.
  3. Drain both, then grind urad dal to a light and fluffy consistency, first adding ¼ cup water, then sprinkling more water as needed to make sure the mixture doesn’t get stuck. Transfer into a large container.
  4. Grind idli rice, initially with ½ cup water, then sprinkling with more as required, to a coarse consistency. Add to urad dal along with some salt, and mix well. Cover and ferment for 10-12 hours at room temperature.
  5. To cook, take a bowl of batter and add water to a pouring consistency.
  6. Heat pan, then pour a ladle of batter and spread in a circular pattern. Sprinkle with ghee, cover and cook until slightly browned and crispy. Remove and serve with curry, chutney or sambar.


How to Cook South Indian Mutton Curry


1kg goat or lamb meat (preferably on the bone), cut into chunks

½ tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp salt

½ cup water

¾ cup fresh (or frozen) shredded coconut

1 tsp poppy seeds

1 tsp fennel seeds

1 tsp whole black pepper

1 tsp oil

2 cloves

1-inch piece cinnamon

1 bay leaf

1 star anise

2 cardamom pods

1 onion, diced

2 potatoes, quartered

1 tomato, diced

½ tsp chilli powder

½ tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp coriander powder

1 small green chilli

½ tsp ginger garlic paste

Fresh coriander to garnish


  1. Combine lamb/goat pieces with ½ cup water, turmeric and salt and pressure cook for 10 minutes.
  2. Heat pan and brown grated coconut, poppy seeds, fennel seeds and whole black pepper.
  3. Transfer into a food processor/blender, add 1 cup water and blend to a smooth paste.
  4. Heat oil in a pan and lightly fry cloves, cinnamon, bay leaf, star anise and cardamoms.
  5. Add onion and fry until it caramelises. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook until potato softens.
  6. Add the coconut paste and the meat and water from the pressure cooker, simmer for 10-15 minutes, adjust seasoning and serve.

BTW because the curry was a bit spicy, I added some coconut milk to it after the session, along with a dash of chicken powder and a pinch of sugar – that’s how it ended up tasting like my spicy lamb and potato curry.

Divya has nearly 500 recipes on her blog at the time of writing – – so do check it out if you’re keen to have a go at South Indian cooking.

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