I had the opportunity to attend the Travel Adventure show in Washington DC last weekend per request of the Sri Lankan Embassy in DC, whose cook, Tuan Buran, was giving a cooking demonstration. Since Buran does not speak English, I was charged with the task of giving a running commentary and interacting with the MC of the event Mark Decosta. Buran made a simple “snack” of hoppers and lunu miris, and since this was only a demonstration, not a tasting event, we got to eat all of the “samples.”
These sourdough pancakes, originally from South India, are popular for both breakfast and dinner in Sri Lanka, and can be bought at ubiquitous roadside stands. They are made in a small curved pan resembling a tiny wok called a thatchi. As the batter is swirled around the sides and cooks it becomes crunchy on the ends while remaining soft in the middle. Accompaniments include curries with gravy and Lunu miris.
1 lb. (500 g) wheat or rice flour
salt to taste
1/8 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. yeast
2 oz. (250 ml) water
20 oz. () coconut milk (more milk required if using rice flour)
1/4 tsp. bicarbonate of soda
3 tbsp. oil
1.) Sieve flour into bowl. Add salt, sugar, yeast (dissolved in water), and mix well to form a stiff dough.
2.) Set aside to rise for 2-3 hours. Then add the coconut milk and a pinch of bicarbonate of soda and set aside for another hour. Mix well.
3.) Oil a hopper pan (or similar spherical pan) and heat over medium flame. Pour a spoonful of batter and rotate pan so whole surface is covered. Cook until hopper is done.
4.) Oil pan after each hopper.
Variation: egg hopper– After pouring batter into pan, break an egg in the center and cover and cook until done.
Makes 10-12 Hoppers
Onion Chili Sambol (Lunu Miris)
This fiery mix of onion, chilies and salty, chewy bits of Maldive fish is the perfect complement to hoppers or milk rice.
1 onion, chopped
4 tbsp. dry red chilies
1 tbsp. Maldive fish (or dried shrimp)
juice of lime
salt to taste
1.) Grind all ingredients together in a food processor or blender to make a thick red paste.