This month’s Daring Cooks’ Challenge digs into the cuisine of South India and Sri Lanka – something I’ve wanted to do for a long time now! What most restaurants offer up as Indian food usually represents dishes from northern India. The flavours of South India and Sri Lanka are quite different, and really fun to explore!
At the core of today’s challenge are rice-based crepes called Appams or Hoppers. These can be used to pick up stews, sauces and are a refreshing change of pace from rice and naan.
Along with the hoppers, we were tasked with making an appropriate accompaniment. At first, I thought I would dig around for a recipe myself, but I changed my mind when I saw what sample recipes were being offered up. Sri Lankan Lamb Curry, that’s the one!
… of course, it required that I toast and grind up a spice mixture.
To my surprise, this one includes raw white rice. How weird is that!! Even after toasting, I don’t think it would offer much flavour to a dish. My conclusion is that it’s included as a thickening agent. Must investigate further.
The lamb curry is a combination of so many favourite things – tamarind, spices, lamb… but kind of lacks in the veggie department. I added a couple of different colours of bell pepper for some crunch. It was the perfect addition.
As for the hoppers, they were so tasty and fun to eat. The preparation took a couple of days, so I was really counting on their turning out edible. They really weren’t difficult to make, and after the first couple of tries I got the hang of frying them up into a pleasing shape. The rough ones may not have been pretty, but they still tasted great (just didn’t make it into the photos).
With all of the new curry and masala spices I bought from Épices de Cru, I think I’ll be venturing into the wider world of curries this fall and winter. Stay tuned for more adventure!
Sri Lankan Hoppers with Lamb Curry
Recipe from Aparna, at My Diverse Kitchen
- 1 1/2 cups raw rice
- 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/2 cup of coconut water or water, room temperature
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cooked rice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- about 1/2 cup thick coconut milk (from the top of an unshaken can)
- Soak the raw rice in 4 to 5 cups of water for at least 3 hours. I soaked it overnight.
- Dissolve the sugar in the coconut water or plain water and add the yeast. Set aside in a warm area for 10-15 minutes, until very frothy.
- Drain the rice and grind it in a blender with the yeast mixture to make a smooth batter. You can add a bit of extra water if needed, but I did not. Add the cooked rice, and grind/blend to combine well. You can see that it is not completely smooth, but very thick—that’s about right.
- Pour into a large bowl, cover and leave in a warm place for 8-12 hours. You not only want the mixture to rise and collapse, but to ferment. When it is ready, it will have a slightly sour and distinctly yeasty smell. Don’t worry–they are mild tasting when cooked!
- Add the coconut milk and salt, and a bit of water if necessary, so that you have a batter that is just a bit thicker than milk. Notice how it bubbles after you add the coconut milk. I recommend test-cooking one before thinning the batter.
- Heat your pan over medium heat. Wipe a few drops of oil over it using a paper towel. Stir the batter and pour in 3-4 tablespoons, depending on the size of the pan. Working quickly, hold the handle(s) and give the pan a quick swirl so that the batter comes to the top edge. Swirl once only, as you want the edges to be thin and lacy.
- Cover the pan and cook for about 2 minutes. Uncover and check. The center should have puffed up a bit, and will be shiny, but dry to the touch. When ready, loosen the edges with a small spatula and serve immediately. These need to be served hot out of the pan.
- Make another, and another… Here you can see some that were made in regular skillets.
- I have found that the leftover batter can be refrigerated for a day or 2.
Inspired by a recipe in Mangoes and Curry Leaves, by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, cubed
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 10 fresh or frozen curry leaves (I didn’t have these, and it was still great!)
- 1 green cayenne chili, finely chopped (I used a red chili)
- 1 cup finely chopped onion
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon tamarind pulp / tamarind concentrate
- ¼ cup hot water
- 3 cups water
Dry Spice Mixture:
- 1 tablespoon raw white rice
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- one 1-inch piece of cinnamon
- seeds from 2 pods of green cardamom
- In a small heavy skillet, roast the dry spice mixture over medium to medium-high heat for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring continuously, until the rice gets a lightly toasted colour. Grind spices to a powder and set aside.
- If using tamarind pulp, chop coarsely and soak in hot water. If using tamarind concentrate, use a bit of the hot water to thin a bit. Set aside.
- Heat the oil over medium-high heat, in a large pot or deep sauté pan. Add the curry leaves, green chile, onion and turmeric and stir-fry for 3 minutes.
- Add the meat and salt and brown for 5 minutes, stirring regularly.
- Add the spice mixture and the coconut milk and stir to coat the meat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- If using tamarind pulp: press the soaked tamarind through a sieve
placed over a bowl. Use a spoon to press all
the liquid and pulp out. Discard the seeds
and stringy bits.
- Add the tamarind liquid (from pulp or concentrate) to
3 cups of water.
- Add the tamarind/water mixture to the pot and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and cook uncovered at a strong simmer for about an hour, until the meat is tender and the sauce has thickened.
Serve with appams/hoppers, or with rice!