Long before adulterated vegetable oils were introduced into the cuisine of the Malayali (Keralite), together with their concomitant host of ailments and diseases, the people of Kerala enjoyed a healthier way of life using pure coconut oil in their daily diet. Every town and village had its own quaint wooden oil press powered by oxen where copra (dried coconut) was crushed to extract fragrant coconut oil, leaving fresh, warm oil cakes for the cattle to feed on. People used coconut oil to anoint their hair and body. The oil would nourish the hair, prevent graying, hydrate the skin and act as a natural sunscreen. The older generations recognized the health benefits of coconut oil in fighting infections, increasing metabolism, growing muscles and reducing unwanted fat. Delicious, deep-fried teatime snacks were always prepared in coconut oil and the chief amongst these was, and still is, neyyappam. Soft and fluffy on the inside, and delightfully chewy on the outside, sweet neyyappam will steal your heart.
Although neyyappams and their smaller cousins, unniyappams, are made in several different ways, here is one of my finest recipes for you. These marvelous neyyappams are made without using even a pinch of baking powder. Do make and enjoy!