Hoppers (Sourdough coconut crepes)

hoppers

fermented rice flour and coconut milk pancakes/crepes

If you have been to south east Asia, specifically Sri Lanka or southern India, chances are that you’ve already eaten these. If not, these should be on the top of your “must have food” list, when/if you go there.

These are a very popular staple in Sri Lanka, where I was born and a family favorite in almost every household. There are different recipes and a few variations to this versatile oriental pancake.

hoppers



The crispy, melt-in-your-mouth, tuile like edges are addicting! The center is soft and naturally mildly sweetened by the thick coconut milk. They have to be eaten as soon as they are made which makes the experience even more exiting. Due to this reason, you’ll always find a “hopper station” in buffets and restaurants, where hoppers are made to order.

hoppers
tuile like edges

The recipe is so simple, it only has five ingredients including the salt. This is a mixture of rice flour, coconut milk, water, salt that is fermented using either commercial yeast or a sourdough starter. The instant version, use baking soda(sodium bicarbonate) to get the bubbly effect and so you can skip the long fermentation. But you’ll get an after taste, which I personally don’t like.

stacks of crepes

In lot of house holds, they use a piece of bread instead of the yeast. This is a cleaver way of using the leftover yeast in the bread. Yes! apparently, some yeast survive the heat of the oven. All you have to do is mash up a piece of bread in a little water and add it to the rice flour mix and let it ferment!

If you want them to be completely gluten free, feel free to use commercial yeast or use a gluten free starter. Remember commercial yeast is fast acting so your batter will be ready in 2-3 hours. Use 1 tsp of instant dry yeast to ferment, roughly about two cups of flour. Activate the yeast first! Stir the yeast in a little water and a pinch of sugar and let sit for 10 minutes. Then mix that with water and rice flour to form a thick batter. This should now be left in a warm place until doubled in volume. After which you can incorporate coconut milk and salt. There you have it! GF version done!

rice flour
white rice flour

In my case I’m using my trusty sourdough starter! So my hoppers aren’t gluten free. If you have a gluten-free starter, then of course you can follow these same steps and make sourdough hoppers that are gluten free!

The only difference when you are using a sourdough starter to ferment something, is that it takes a longer time. So if you use 1:1 ratio of rice flour and starter, it takes about 4-5 hours to ferment. You can double that time if you use 1:2 ratio. So one part starter to two parts rice flour. This is my preferred method as it allows me to mix these the night before, so I can make hoppers in the morning. Or you can mix in the morning and make your hoppers in the evening for supper. This works perfectly with my schedule, that I can actually make them on a weekday!

Ideally, for this, you need ripe starter. So feed your starter and let it get activated. If you are using leftover starter, then it might take considerably longer to ferment so keep an eye on your batter.

batter

To make the batter, all you have to do is mix rice flour, starter and water in a big plastic bowl. Do not add all the water in. Add half of the water in the recipe and mix well. Then keep adding more water until the batter is thick but not firm. It shouldn’t stick to your hand but look like a past than batter.

batter

Now all you have to do is let it sit in a warm place covered. You will see some activity in about 4-5 hours. There won’t be bubbles or visible action but you will see the batter rising upwards slowly. At the end of the fermentation, there will be a considerable increase in volume. But more than that, when you touch the batter, you will feel it has lightened up and aerated.

batter

This will look like, cottage cheese and you will see bubbles underneath the dough. Also it will smell acidic or yogurt like!

All you have to do now is add thick coconut milk and salt. Again go slowly when adding coconut milk. We need a runny batter but not watery.

batter

It is runnier than a normal pancake batter.

hopper pan

To make the hoppers, ideally you need a hopper pan and the lid and an open flames that heats the sides of the pan.

Spray the pan with cooking oil and remove excess using a paper towel or piece of cloth. Too much oil will prevent batter sticking to the sides. Heat the pan to medium hot, (shouldn’t be smoking) and ladle about a 1/4 cups of batter and swirl the pan to let the batter flow around to cover the entire area. Place on medium heat, cover with lid for 30 seconds. Then remove the lid and let the sides go golden brown and crispy. Once done, use an offset spatula or a knife to carefully release the crepe from the sides. Slide the knife all around until it is completely released and toss on to a plate.

pan

If you don’t have a hopper pan, worry not. You can use a non stick pan to make these. They will be of a different shape, but will taste the same.

skillet

If you have a cast iron skillet, that’ll work too. Make sure to spray and wipe excess oil off. Heat the skillet and drop about 1/3 of a cup batter and spread the batter quickly to form a thin crepe. If you have a crepe tool, use that or use the back of a ladle. Or if you can, swirl the skillet so the batter will spread evenly. These will be flat, thin and crispy.

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Egg hoppers is another variation, where you break an egg to the center and it will cook the same time as the hopper.

egg hoppers
an egg hopper

Hoppers are really neutral, so you can serve them with anything. We love it plain, with butter ,with a curry, coconut chutney, salsa, honey, maple syrup you name it!. This can be served as a dessert too, if you pair with cream and strawberries. You can also add brown sugar to the batter and make these extra sweet! Really the possibilities are endless.

hoppers
crispy edges

They will lose their crispness over time, so eat them as soon as they are made. You can refrigerate the batter though, for up to a day. Any longer and it will be turn sour.

So give these a go. It is worth it! I’d love to here or see if you try it so please either leave a comment or tag me on Instagram.




hoppers

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9 comments

  1. Looks great.
    We make sourdough bread and came nice. I am a Srilankan and definitely try this out, nicely explain each steps. Thanks heaps.

    1. 13.5Floz (399ml) or roughly 400ml. Add gradually and stop when you get the required texture. You might not need all of it

    1. I bought it from Australia, from a Sri Lankan grocery and brought it here with me.
      Asian/Indian groceries here may have it.

  2. I am so thankful that I came across your blog (via your IG account). I have been baking sourdough bread for a few years and have been looking for a creative baker like you. Your recipes and photos look stunning! I canโ€™t wait to try out your bread recipes and the hopper recipe. Itโ€™s a coincidence that we were both born in Sri Lanka and live in USA now (I am in San Jose, CA). I am so thankful our paths crossed!

    1. Hi Manouri,
      I am so glad that you find my blog interesting! Hope you will like the recipes you choose to try! Yes hoppers is my all time favorite and now I use sourdough to ferment it and loving it!!
      So glad to have connected with you!
      Happy baking!

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