Guest Author - Jason Hodge
It goes by many names, from what I've found: Kuzhi Appam or Paniyaram chati / Appam skillet / Pancake puff skillet... I don't know much about it, 'YET', but what I've been able to find so far told me that it's something I wanted to have in my culinary repertoire. It appears to be an Indian cooking utensil, used to make a multitude of puffed fried goods from the sweet to the savory. I found mine at an Asian market in the heart of the L.A. food district. [I could almost live down there!] At the time, I didn't know what to do with it, but I had a hankering for some intense explorations.
The first thing I did was to make some long awaited akkras, a vegetarian West African dish of fritters made with black eye peas. It's almost like the Near and Middle Eastern falafel, but instead of using garbanzos, black eye peas make up the canvas. Of course you know I wasn't satisfied with stopping there... I had to move onto garbanzos, plantains, pintos, bananas, desserts and so on. I think had they all not turned out so well, my wife would've banned me from my kitchen! The way it's setup is like a cast iron skillet with deep half spherical impressions in it. It's the perfect thing if you're wanting that precise shaped finger food. I tell you... I'm in love!
I found it for, I believe under $10 bucks. Which I know now is an actual steal! So far I've found, not even the same one [I think the quality of mine rocks!], others for sale online for, get this... 2 and 1/2 times what I paid for mine! $25 bucks. I'm so glad I grabbed mine when I did! I saw another one, which looked like it's made out of brass, with around 3 times the amount of impressions in it that I'll have to go and get, now that I know what all can be done with these bad boys!
I said all of this to say... In your homes or your personal chef business, explore new items, new flavors, new styles...
Give your clients something, out of the ordinary, to look forward to. Whether you take the familiar dishes and transform them into something new; maintaining the familiar flavors while varying the shapes, or, vary the flavors and shapes using indigenous utensils, spices and techniques. I do it all the time and haven't gotten a complaint yet!
Food is fun and should be free enough to evolve in as many ways as your imagination will allow.
As always, it's my pleasure sharing new ideas and tools with you. Until next time...