You can make vattayappam, a popular Keralite tea-time snack, right in your instant pot! This sweet cake is naturally gluten-free and vegan. It’s perfect for breakfast, brunch, as a snack or for dessert. You can even make it savory and serve it with curries!
Think of this Keralite snack as a thick sweet steamed pancake! Vattayappam is made with a naturally gluten-free and vegan batter and then speckled with cashews and raisins and spiced with cardamom.
It’s so perfect with a cup of chai. In fact, if you are thinking about having friends over for chai and snacks, this would be the perfect thing to make.
What is Vattayappam?
Vattayappam is made up of a rice and coconut based batter and is pretty unique in that the batter is first fermented and then steamed. This process results in a perfectly soft and slightly spongy cake.
This sweet rice cake is a pretty popular snack in the Keralite Christian community, but anyone can make and enjoy this of course. My husband who is Keralite grew up eating this cake but out of the two of us, I love it more. That seems to be the case with all Keralite recipes though – I think I must have been Keralite in another life.
About the Ingredients:
The main ingredients in this cake are rice and coconut.
I tried using shortcuts like making this with rice flour and canned coconut milk but ultimately I found that the best way to make this in an instant pot is to grind the rice and coconut yourself. I suggest using frozen grated coconut (easily found at any Indian grocery store) and basmati rice because it’s also easy to find. I typically use organic basmati rice from Trader Joe’s to make this dessert but any basmati rice will work. I know some people like to use different types of rice (like sona masoori or by adding a bit of cooked matta rice) and if you’re familiar with this dessert, go right ahead. I can only vouch for the recipe as written though.
Once you blend the rice and coconut, you’ll add bloomed yeast to it which will help ferment the batter. Then you’ll pour the batter into an oven safe bowl and place it on a trivet in the instant pot. Press the “yogurt” button and after two hours, you’ll see that the batter has doubled in size! Then it’s time to make the cake: mix in sugar, cardamom and pour the batter into a cake pan. Sprinkle cashews and raisins on top, cover with foil and steam. I know it sounds like a long process but once you make it you’ll see how simple it really is.
And the result? A thick, pillow-like sweet rice cake.
Prefer Savory to Sweet? Reduce the Sugar and Serve this with Curry!
You can reduce the sugar in this recipe (omit the ¼ cup of sugar at the end) and enjoy this as a savory cake/bread! Serve it with any Keralite curry (like this chicken stew, ground beef stew or this coconut egg curry).
Let me know how you enjoy this cake and what you think of it! I suggest making and eating this on the same day as that’s when it tastes the best.
- 1 cup basmati rice soak for 4-5 hours
- 3 tablespoons warm water
- ½ teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ¾ cup cold water
- ½ cup grated coconut*
- Coconut oil for greasing cake pan
- ¼ cup sugar
- ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 tablespoon raisins fried in ghee
- 1 tablespoon cashews fried in ghee
- Soak the rice in cold water for 4-5 hours. Drain, rinse and set aside.
- To prepare the cake batter, you will first need to bloom the yeast. To do this, place the 3 tablespoons of warm water, yeast and sugar in a small bowl (the water must be warm - it cannot be cold or too hot). Allow it to rest for a few minutes or until it blooms and becomes frothy. This step is important. If the yeast doesn’t froth at the top, then it’s likely dead and you will need to buy new yeast.
- While you wait for the yeast to bloom, prepare the pressure cooker by adding 2 cups of water to the steel pot. Place the wire rack that came with your pressure cooker into the pot.
- Add the drained rice and ¾ cup cold water to a blender and blend until mostly smooth (coarsely ground rice is also fine). Add the grated coconut and the bowl of frothy yeast into the blender and blend again until well combined.
- Pour this batter into an oven-safe bowl and set the bowl on top of the trivet inside the steel inner pot.
- Secure the lid, close the pressure valve, press the yogurt button and set the time for 2 hours. When the time is up, remove the lid and you should see that the batter has fermented and has doubled in size.
- Remove the bowl of batter, add an additional 1 cup of water into the inner pot then place an empty well-greased 7.5 inch cake pan on top of the trivet. Press the sauté button to heat up the water and the empty pan.
- Add ¼ cup sugar and cardamom to the batter and mix until well combined.
- Pour the batter into the now hot cake pan that is sitting in the steel inner pot. Sprinkle cashews and raisins on top of the batter. Lightly cover the cake pan with a piece of foil.
- Secure the lid, close the pressure valve, press the steam button and set the time for 30 minutes at high pressure.
- Naturally release pressure. Remove the hot cake pan out of the pot and place it on a wire rack to cool.
- *Freshly grated coconut isn’t always practical. I suggest buying frozen unsweetened grated coconut at your local Indian grocery store. I thaw the coconut before measuring it.
- To make this vegan, you can sauté the cashews and raisins in coconut oil or leave them out.
- I recommend making and eating this on the same day as that’s when it tastes the best.
- You can also leave the ¼ cup of sugar out of this recipe and make a steamed savory cake that you can serve with any Keralite curry.