Traditional Sri Lankan Cuisine
Egg Hoppers for Breakfast……these are what I enjoyed on my first morning in Sri Lanka just a few weeks ago; I wandered across to a small serving area in the hotel restaurant, where a traditional sari-clad lady was wielding small pans whilst pouring, ladling and cracking eggs – set in front of her were plates of deep lacy, pancake type baskets, some with eggs, some without. I am an adventurous person, so I grabbed one of the eggy baskets and asked her how I should eat it. She then suggested that I eat what I later learned to be an egg hopper with a selection of fiery sambols, some coconut gravy (kiri hodi) and a spoonful of creamy dhal. I did exactly as she suggested and thus fell in love with my first Sri Lankan Egg Hopper for breakfast.
My next egg hopper was a simpler affair with luni miris (a fresh chilli and onion relish) and pol sambol, but was just as delicious, and so it was that for the next nine days I enjoyed a variety of hoppers for breakfast and sometimes for dinner, all filled with spicy and exciting condiments and accompaniments. I was so captivated with these pancake baskets, that I added to my already considerably heavy luggage and brought a couple of hopper pans back home with me, complete with lots of Sri Lankan ingredients too! So, what is a hopper exactly? They are yeast raised coconut and rice flour pancakes that are cooked in small, deep pans with lids; you start the batter off the night before and once made, the batter can be stored in the fridge for up to two or three days.
So, as an Egg Hopper lover, an avid cook and a person with boundless curiosity, I am happy to present to you today, my recipe for Egg Hoppers, as made earlier today for breakfast and very successfully too, I’m pleased to say. I DID make my egg hoppers in the traditional hopper pans, as brought back from Sri Lanka (see above), but if you don’t have access to the special pans, then a small wok will work, but you MUST find a lid that fits it, as covering the hoppers whilst you cook them is an essential part of creating the lacy, crisp and slightly steamed texture that is traditional with these pancakes. You can serve egg hoppers with less exotic accompaniments if you like, such as fried mushrooms, bacon and sausages, a sort of Full English Sri Lankan Breakfast if you like, but I DO recommend you try the traditional condiments of sambols, dhal, curry and even fresh fruit.
My tried and tested recipe is shared below and is part of my ongoing EggCentric Ambassadorship for British Lion Eggs and The British Egg Information Service; as an eggy ambassador I have been asked to share different recipes that use eggs, but that are simple to prepare and cook; this recipe may seem a little daunting at first, but if you follow my tips below, then I can guarantee all of your egg hoppers will be perfectly cooked and each one takes less than five to six minutes to cook from start to finish. If you need any more eggy recipe ideas, why not pop over to the EggCentric website here: Egg Recipes. I hope that you are inspired and tempted to try today’s recipe for Sri Lankan Egg Hoppers, and please do let me know by leaving a comment below if you make them or plan to make them, Karen
Disclaimer: Commissioned work with British Egg Industry Council.
Top Tips how to make Perfect Egg Hoppers:
I was given a one-to-one tutorial by a lady who had been cooking hoppers for over 25 years in one of the hotels I stayed at in Sri Lanka, and here’s what I learned…..
1. Make sure that the pan is well-greased and is smoking hot when you first add the hopper batter.
2. As soon as you ladle the batter into the pan, you must tilt it and swirl the batter around so it coats the whole pan.
3. You must add the egg as soon as the batter has been added and is coating the whole pan; you can add a whole egg or a mixed egg.
4. To obtain the slightly spongy and steamed texture, you MUST cover the hoppers as they cook.
• Eggs can be exciting – they are not just for boiling and scrambling, you can use them in interesting dishes that are innovative and tasty
• Eggs can help to make a healthy meal in minutes
• Egg based meals can fit in with a busy and active lifestyle
• Eggs are a great source of protein and vitamins and minerals, combined with plenty of veg they can make a healthy meal at any time of day
• Eggs keep you feeling fuller for longer and are a healthy fast food
Hoppers (appa) are a range of dishes based on a fermented batter, usually made of rice flour and coconut milk with spices. The dish is pan-fried or steamed. The fermenting agent is palm toddy or yeast. Hopper variants can be either savoury (such as egg hoppers, milk hoppers, and string hoppers), or sweet (such as vandu appa and pani appa).
My other EggCentric Recipe: