The Plain Egg and Milk Hopper from Hoppers

These crisp bowl-shaped pancakes are a menu staple at the much-loved restaurant Hoppers. Originating from South India and Sri Lanka, hoppers can be served plain or as an accompaniment to curries and sambols

Makes 10

Preparation time 8 hours

Cooking time 5 minutes

Since landing in Soho in 2015, Hoppers quickly became a cult favourite with a queue-willing fan base – an unmistakable symptom of London’s insatiable appetite for South Indian and Sri Lankan food. Eight years later, Hoppers is now a three-strong family, with two more restaurants in Kings Cross and Marylebone.

The restaurant's name sake, the hopper, is a South Indian dish, specifically from Tamil Nadu and Kerala, known as ‘appa’ or ‘appam’. The history is ambiguous but the story goes that British settlers struggled to pronounce apam, so began referring to them as hoppers, and so the name stuck.

There is a marked difference between hoppers from South India and Sri Lanka. The former being flatter and softer, owing to heavier iron pans. Those from Sri Lanka are traditionally cooked in light aluminium woks, yielding lacy edges and the iconic, crisp bowl-shape. In Sri Lanka hoppers are served for breakfast or dinner in sweet or savoury stacks from street vendors.

Serve plain as an accompaniment to curry and pol sambol, or drop an egg into the centre and steam gently to make an egg hopper. Equally, add a splash of coconut milk in the last minute of cooking to transform it into a milk hopper, or crumble in some jaggery at the end to make it a sweet one.

As with any fermented dough or batter, practice is required and the recipe can only take you so far. There is mastery in understanding the batter's consistency, knowing when to add extra sugar to deepen the colour, or extra water to get the perfect crisp edge.

Thankfully, there are three pieces of advice from the Hoppers team to master this favourite. The first, to pour batter with conviction and sweep around the pan without hesitation, for a single, decisive swirl. The second, to invest in a good aluminium pan. And the third, as with any pancake, is to resign yourself that the first will probably not be your best.


  • 600g uncooked short-grain white rice
  • 60g boiled and chilled short-grain white rice
  • 115ml coconut milk
  • 75g fresh coconut, grated
  • 1 tsp fast-acting dried yeast
  • 2tsp sugar
  • 1tsp salt


  1. Wash the rice in cold water 5-6 times, or until the water runs somewhat clear. Cover with cold water and leave to soak for at least 8 hours, or overnight.
  2. Drain the rice and place in a blender with the boiled rice, coconut milk, grated coconut and approximately 455-500ml of warm water. Blend until the mixture is the consistency of thick cake batter. In a separate bowl, combine the yeast and sugar with 2 tbsp of tepid water. Once dissolved, add to the hopper batter and mix well. Cover and leave to ferment for 6-7 hours in a warm place until the batter becomes frothy and has a slightly sweet aroma.
  3. When ready to cook, preheat a hopper pan with the lid on over a medium heat without oil. Add the salt to the batter and mix well, then whisk in enough water to dilute the mixture to a thick custard consistency.
  4. Once the pan is hot, pour a ladleful of the hopper batter down the side, then gently swirl the pan once to coat all of the edges. Allow any excess batter to pool in the base of the pan. Place the lid on the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes until the edges are slightly brown and beginning to come away from the pan. Carefully remove the hopper from the pan with a palette knife and slide onto a plate.
  5. Serve hot with a curry and pol sambol.