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How to make Kinnathappam- Steam Cooked Rice Cake in a plate


My mom’s specialty dessert…

Do you have any kind of food with which you have shared a strong bond right from the moment food got into your brains? If yes, then we should team up. I can call mine as “My mom’s specialty dessert”. I have had the opportunity to taste this dessert made by my Aunt’s, other family members and even non-family members. And the truth is none of them was able to beat my moms. Every time when I tasted this dessert made by others, I  silently judged them, comparing it to my mom’s. I must say not even a single time it had won over my taste buds. I was forced to notice some kind of faults in those,  for instance: not too soft like my mom’s, too sugary sometimes and many times the overall taste wasn’t that great. Don’t get me wrong here, I am not blaming their culinary talent and I truly appreciate their effort on trying to give their best shot at this dessert.

Now you could come to the conclusion that this dessert needs to be made with the utmost care and attention to achieve the perfect taste and look. I  have always seen my mom making this particular dessert with all her heart and affection, as if she was with a baby. And this is the sole reason behind her success of making this dessert with perfection all the time.

Kinnathappam, I am still uncertain about it’s authenticity, since I have seen both Keralites and Tamilians making  this. Anyway, one statement I can make without much controversy is that this is an authentic South Indian dessert. Kinnathappam, which can be translated to english as ‘kinnam’ which means ‘plate’ and ‘appam’ means ‘cake’. Since this dessert is made in  a plate it is called ‘cake in a plate’. Mostly this is made in a stainless steel plate. I can even call this as Steamed Rice-Coconut Pudding, based on the ingredients it has and the preparation method, but I wouldn’t dare to change its name given by whoever who came up this delightful dessert, may be centuries ago. This dessert is a proof that old, traditional desserts still exist even after the advent of other fancy desserts.

In my family there wouldn’t be any special occasions without this dessert, hence this is served and tasted with so much dignity.

As a kid, as a teen, in my early 20’s, I have seen my mom making this in her kitchen, those days I had neither cared to help her out making this nor showed any interest to find out what all were added to that. Only one thing that I wanted to know and asked her over and over was how long it would take to make, so that I could have the first bite of it. While sneaking into the kitchen during the preparation process, I had seen the way my mom made this and the memories of that is still with me, so crisp and clear. So, when I humbly made up my mind to make this in my kitchen, I felt my mom’s presence, giving me all the detailed instructions and when I stood still thinking whether I am doing it in the right way, I felt as if my mom is showing me the Thumps up sign. I totally imitated my mom, when it came to the care and the attention I had to show while making this.

I did succeed in making this. After each and every bite of it, there came the judgment part, judged by my taste buds  and I had to admit that my taste buds were still longing for my mom’s special Kinnathappam, it was indeed tough to beat her, no matter what. Let my mom prevail as the Queen of Kinnathappam forever..

Steam Cooked Kinnathappam

steam cooked kinnathappam

Cut into wedges

cooked kinnathappamTips:

  • Make sure the batter has the right consistency, neither thick nor watery.
  • When you make this with all your heart, you will surely succeed in this, also practice makes this dessert perfect.

Cooking Video

Kinnathappam aka Cake in a plate
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Indian
  • White Rice (ponni rice or sona massori or basmati rice)- 1 cup, soaked in water
  • Egg-1
  • Sugar- 1 cup
  • Thin Coconut milk- 2½ cups
  • Whole Cardamom- 2, crushed
  • Cumin seeds- ½ tsp
  • Ghee- 1½ tbsp
  1. I've taken Sona masoori rice, ponni or basmati rice can also be used.
  2. Soak 1 cup of rice in water for 4 hours.
  3. Strain the water through a strainer, rinse the soaked rice under running water.
  4. Grind rice along with egg, sugar and 2 cups thin coconut milk until very smooth & fine.
  5. Strain the batter through a muslin cloth a couple of times, this will discard any tiny grains of rice in the batter. This is a must do step- if there are tiny grains of rice in the batter kinnathappam will turn hard.
  6. Add ½ cup more thin coconut milk, combine well.
  7. Add crushed whole cardamoms and cumin seeds to the batter.
  8. The batter consistency shouldn't be thick, should have a thin consistency.
  9. Grease a 8-inch round stainless steel pan or cake pan with 1 tbsp ghee.
  10. Pour the batter onto the pan.
  11. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil.
  12. How to steam cook: Add 1 cup of water to a large wide pan. Place a trivet over the water, place the pan with the batter on it.
  13. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and its lid. If you don't have the lid, just cover with aluminum foil.
  14. Steam cook for 45 minutes over medium heat, or until a fork inserted into the kinnathappam comes out clean.
  15. Open the aluminum foil.
  16. Drizzle ½ tbsp ghee over the hot kinnathappam.
  17. Keep it covered and let cool down for 30 minutes. It will set well when it cools down.
  18. Slice into squares or wedges and enjoy.
  19. Leftover kinnathappam can be kept in the refrigerator, tastes better the next day.


Thas is the author of Cooking with Thas, a popular food blog with recipes from Indian, American and Fusion Cuisines. She has been blogging since 2009 and been featured in several magazines. Read more...