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Plain Hoppers – Vella Appam

The most popular breakfast dishes in Sri Lanka are the hoppers (appa). These wafer thin, cup-shaped pancakes are made from a fermented batter of rice flour, coconut milk and a dash of palm toddy. A hopper, crisp on the outside, yet soft and spongy in the centre, is best eaten with curries and sambals while still streaming hot. There are many types of hoppers: plain hoppers, egg hoppers, milk hoppers, and sweeter varieties like vanduappa and paniappa.

 

Plain Hoppers - Vella Appam
The most popular breakfast dishes in Sri Lanka are the hoppers (appa). These wafer thin, cup-shaped pancakes are made from a fermented batter of rice flour, coconut milk and a dash of palm toddy. A hopper, crisp on the outside, yet soft and spongy in the centre, is best eaten with curries and sambals while still streaming hot. There are many types of hoppers: plain hoppers, egg hoppers, milk hoppers, and sweeter varieties like vanduappa and paniappa.
Author:
Cuisine: Sri Lankan
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 20
Ingredients
  • 1 teaspoon dried yeast
  • ½ cup warm water
  • 1½ teaspoons sugar
  • 1½ cups medium-coarse ground rice
  • 1½ cups plain (all-purpose) white flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 400 ml can coconut milk
  • 2 cups water
Instructions
  1. Sprinkle yeast over warm water, stir to dissolve, add sugar and leave for 10 minutes or so. If yeast starts to froth it is active and you can proceed with the recipe. If it has no reaction, start again with a fresh batch of yeast.
  2. Put ground rice, rice flour and salt into a large bowl.
  3. Combine 300 ml coconut milk with measured water and add yeast mixture. Stir into dry ingredients to form a smooth, thick batter.
  4. Allow to stand overnight, or put in a warm (turned off) oven for 1 hour until the mixture rises and froths. The batter should be of a thick pouring consistency, but thin enough to cover the sides of the pan with an almost transparent coating when the batter is swirled. It will probably be necessary to add extra water. A little practice will tell you when you have achieved the perfect consistency, and so much depends on the absorbency of the flour (which is variable) that it is not possible to give an accurate measurement.
  5. Heat the pan over low heat until very hot, rub the inside surface with a piece of folded paper towels dipped in oil, or spray with light cooking spray and pour in a small ladle of the batter.
  6. Immediately pick up the pan by both handles, using potholders, and swirl it around so that the batter coats the pan for two-thirds of the way up.
  7. Cover pan (any saucepan lid that fits just inside the top edge will do) and cook on very low heat for about 5 minutes.
  8. Lift lid and check hopper. When the upper edges begin to turn a pale toasty colour, the hopper is ready. Where the batter has run down the sides to the centre there will be a little circle of spongy mixture, rather like a crumpet, while the curved edge is very thin, crisp and wafer-like.
  9. With a curved slotted utensil or flexible metal spatula, loosen edges and slip the hopper from the pan on to a wire rack.
  10. Wipe pan again with oiled paper or spray and repeat. Serve the hoppers warm, accompanied by a hot chilli or any kind of meat, fish or chicken curry.

 

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