Mrs Amarasakara’s hoppers

Mrs Amarasakara’s hoppers

By
From
My Feast
Makes
10
Photographer
Chris Chen

Making these is an art and takes some practice to master, but once you’ve got it down pat, you’ll have an endless supply of friends wanting to come around for dinner to enjoy these. I hate to suggest this, but if you’re not prepared to go through the whole process of making these hoppers in the traditional way, you can always buy a packet mix — it does work and tastes similar, but I always feel that it does not have the crisp texture that the fresh coconut brings to the hopper. This recipe involves some trial and error on your part (read the notes). For this recipe, you will need at least one hopper pan (with a lid). Hopper pans are usually made from aluminium and available from Sri Lankan or Indian supermarkets — it is best to keep them solely for the purposes of making hoppers.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
1 fresh coconut
7g dried active yeast
100ml lukewarm milk, (see notes)
1 teaspoon white sugar
2cm thin slice sourdough bread, broken up into pieces
500g rice flour
vegetable oil, for cooking
salt, to taste

Method

  1. Crack the coconut with the back of a large cleaver. Reserve the coconut water as it drains out for making the hoppers. Scrape out the white flesh and trim off the brown membrane. Grate the flesh with a hand-grater or in a food processor.
  2. To make the first-extract coconut milk, place the grated flesh and 200 ml of water in a blender and, using the pulse action, process until everything is well combined and the flesh is soft. Line a sieve with muslin and place over a bowl. Pour in the blended coconut, then gather the sides of the muslin and squeeze to extract as much liquid as possible from the flesh. This is known as first-extract coconut milk or coconut cream. You should have 200 ml coconut cream. Set aside.
  3. To make the second-extract coconut milk, repeat the process using the same coconut flesh, using 600 ml of water. You should have 400 ml of coconut milk. Set aside and discard the coconut flesh.
  4. Place the yeast, milk and sugar in a bowl, stir to combine and leave in a warm place for the yeast to activate — it should double in size and become frothy.
  5. Combine the bread, reserved coconut water and second-extract coconut milk in a large bowl and whisk in the rice flour until it forms a thick batter.
  6. Add the yeast mixture and whisk to combine. Set aside in a warm place for 6 hours to prove or until the mixture has doubled in size.
  7. When the batter is ready, gently heat the first-extract coconut milk until lukewarm and set aside. Lightly grease the inside of a hopper pan with oil and place over high heat.
  8. While the pan is heating, add the lukewarm first-extract coconut milk and stir to form a thick pancake-style batter. Season with salt.
  9. Once the hopper pan is hot, working very quickly, add a ladleful of the batter and swirl to thinly coat the walls of the pan (see notes), making sure a small pool of batter remains at the bottom.
  10. Cover pan with the lid and cook for 2–3 minutes or until the centre is firm and the sides are golden and crisp (see notes).
  11. Lightly tap the sides of the pan to loosen the hopper (see notes), scoop out and serve hot.

Notes

  • It is very important that all of the liquids you use in this recipe are lukewarm. What that means is the liquid should not feel either cold or warm to the touch of the hand.

    If the hoppers are not thin enough, add a little more lukewarm water.

    If the batter does not coat the pan when swirling the pan, the pan is too hot — reduce the heat.

    If the edges of the hopper are not crispy, add another teaspoon of sugar to the batter.

    If the hoppers are difficult to remove from the pan, add a beaten egg to the batter and stir well.

    Egg hoppers are a a more substantial hopper and are popular all over Sri Lanka. Just before you cover the hopper pan with the lid, crack an egg into the hopper, cover and reduce the heat to medium. Cook for 3–5 minutes or until the edges of the hopper are crispy, the eggwhite is cooked and the yolk still soft. Remove from the pan as directed.
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