In Sri Lanka, hoppers are thin, bowl-shaped pancakes named for the pan that gives them their form. Of course, these crispy basins cry out for some kind of filling. Just as the batter is starting to cook, chefs break a whole egg over it and cover the pan. Within minutes you have a delightful crepe-like bowl with a savory egg at the bottom. The popular breakfast, served by both restaurants and street vendors, is often topped with hot curry and creamy dahl or just a fiery sambal sauce.
To make the hopper batter, chefs mix rice flour, coconut milk, yeast, and sugar (crushed-up jaggery or demerara), then leave it to ferment overnight. It’s the byproduct of this fermentation—carbon dioxide—that creates the hopper’s fabulous lacy, crispy texture. To enhance the effect, chefs sometimes add a bit of carbonated water.
Apart from additional seasonings such as salt and pepper, that’s all there is to the hopper. The recipe may be simple, but the results are delicious. While there are several styles, including sweet varieties, the egg hopper is the most popular form in Sri Lanka.
Need to Know
In hotels in Sri Lanka, there is often the option of an English or American breakfast buffet, and it's common to see egg hoppers loaded up with Western fillings such as bacon and sausages.
Where to Try It
This hotel serves delicious hoppers and condiments. It's not the cheapest place to stay but has fantastic views. If you do stay there, keep your room windows closed when you are out or it may get trashed by marauding monkeys.