Activated charcoal is widely considered a superfood. It is said to have been in use in ancient India, even though nowadays it is perceived as a foreign ingredient. I want to explore such ingredients by using them extensively and innovatively in Indian dishes. Kalappam is one creation made with activated charcoal.

  • Serves


  • Cook Time



For Appam Batter

  • 200 gm Pooni rice
  • 9 gm activated charcoal
  • 5 fenugreek seeds
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil for greasing pan

For Stew

  • 200 gm coconut milk powder
  • 150 gm potatoes, diced small
  • 150 gm cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 100 gm carrots, diced small
  • 100 gm beans, chopped
  • 100 gm onions, sliced
  • 25 gm ginger, julienned
  • 2 tbsp refined oil
  • 1 tsp whole black pepper
  • 10 whole green cardamoms
  • 8 green chillies, slit
  • 4 sprigs curry leaves

For Basil Pesto

  • 80 gm basil leaves
  • 30 gm Parmesan
  • 20 gm pine nuts
  • 40 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • Salt to taste


  1. Wash and soak rice with methi seeds in enough water for 8 hours.
  2. Grind the rice into a fine paste and keep it in a dry, warm place for another 8 hours to ferment.
  3. Add the activated charcoal to the fermented batter, season it and mix well.
  4. To make the stew, heat oil in a vessel, temper with whole black peppercorns, green cardamom and curry leaves.
  5. Toss in sliced onions, ginger juliennes and slit green chillies. Sauté until the onions are translucent.
  6. Add all the vegetables and adjust seasoning.
  7. Mix the coconut milk powder and water and pour in the mixture.
  8. Let the stew simmer on low flame until all the vegetables are cooked through.
  9. In the meantime, grind up all the ingredients for pesto together into a paste.
  10. Once the stew is ready, stir in a tablespoon of the pesto and mix well.
  11. To make the appams, heat a cast iron kadhai well. Grease it with oil.
  12. With a ladle, pour batter into the pan and give it a swirl so it spreads out evenly in the kadhai. Cover it.
  13. When the appam starts leaving the sides, take it out and serve with pesto stew.
Sharad Dewan

Sharad Dewan

Sharad Dewan is an award-winning chef who is currently the Regional Director of Food Production at The Park Hotel Kolkata. An alumnus of the Institute of Hotel Management, Delhi and Cornell University, USA, Chef Dewan has opened 10 restaurants across the country in the last 11 years and is currently working on launching four smaller hotels in Kolkata, Mumbai and Indore.

See more