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Sri Lankan Egg Hoppers

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gracoman View Drop Down
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    Posted: 24 September 2017 at 11:38
Hoppers are the Sri Lankan version of Indian Appam, a staple fermented rice and coconut pancake that probably originated in Tamilakam, the ancient region of southern India inhabited by the ancient Tamil people.  Tamil settlements have been found in Sri Lanka so it is not surprising to find Appam there.  As I understand it, Appam was shortened to Appa in Sri lanka and Appa became Hopper.

Original appam was made with palm toddy, palm tree sap which is fermented into wine and liquor.  More modern versions ferment the mixture with yeast to mimic the flavor.

Appam are eaten plain or along with eggs, curries and even sweets such as jaggery or honey can be added. 

Appam ingredients at the most basic are rice flour, coconut milk, salt and sugar.  These days pre mixed packages are available online.  The best appam is made from pre soaked rice mixed with cooked rice ground in a blender and fermented overnight.

Sri Lankan appam, or hoppers, are shaped differently as they are cooked in a pan with taller sides than an appachatti or appam pan which is somewhat shallower.  And string hoppers are also popular.

This rabbit hole runs deep and I was surprised at just how little I know about coconut cultures.  The hoppers I started out with call for thin and thick coconut milks.  Thick is milk produced from the first squeeze, thin from the second.  There are many different types of jaggery and adulteration is common. Coconut scrapers are a household item.  And so on.

My non stick hopper pan


My first hopper attempt did not turn out well but I was hooked with my first taste. 


We are looking for crisp, lacy sides with a soft crumpet-like base.  I'm not there yet but I'm getting closer.


Eggs are a popular addition and the reason for this post.  My first egg hopper in the pan.  The lid should be placed so the hopper steams while crisping from the sides and bottom.  When the sides begin to curl your hopper is done.


Egg hoppers served with several sambols, spicy condiments or garnishes, have been referred to as the finest breakfast in the world.  Who am I to disagree.  A perfectly cooked egg atop a coconut flavored yeasted pancake that can be folded like a taco is a little bit of heaven. 


It is going to take a few more tries before I master the art of preparing the batter and cooking hoppers but the hoppers I've made are already so good I'll have a fun time figuring it out. 

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TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 September 2017 at 10:31
This looks very interesting, and is something I haven't heard of. I'll see if I can find a "reliable recipe, and post, so that if someone wants to try it, they can.

I find myself wondering if the cookware came about because of the dish, or vice-versa? In any case, it looks great - those eggs look like they are floating on clouds....

I am glad you shared it - thanks, gMan!

Ron
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gracoman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 September 2017 at 14:26
Sorry I did not include a recipe.  A specific recipe is dependent upon what the ingredients are, how they are prepared, and how they are fermented. If they are fermented. Traditional hoppers are not always fermented.  I believe appam always is but don't quote me on that.

There are a dozens of recipes and methods available on YouTube and Indian cooking blogs for hoppers and appam. These staples are culturally significant.  A quick online search will turn up more than you need so watch out for the rabbit hole I mentioned.

I've just ordered another hopper pan, a traditional metal hopper pan that has a long handle and is not non stick.  It is best to have two going at once if serving several people at the same time and I've created a number of hopper lovers. 

All of this stuff is inexpensive.  The traditional hopper pan was $8.00.  Ingredients and utensils are even more inexpensive if you have access to a local Indian market.  No shipping charges.  A hopper pan and one package of premade hopper mix (rice flour and yeast) will run $11.50 not including the eggs and coconut milk and will produce enough batter to make perhaps as many as 20 hoppers .  Powdered coconut milk works fine if that is what is available.

A rice flour, yeast and coconut milk pancake can be made in any small pan.  It will lack the complexity of different textures when made in a hopper pan but will demonstrate how tasty these things are. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 September 2017 at 14:31
Some great information there - thanks!
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