Whether served for breakfast, dinner, or a tasty dessert, appam are a favorite form of Sri Lankan cuisine. The round foods are made primarily out of rice flour or rice, milk, sugar, and seasonings. Also known as hoppers, these curved pancakes can be served plain or with whatever topping the chef chooses.
Appam batter is made out of a few simple ingredients. A single batch may be prepared with raw Basmati rice, coconut or any other type of milk, salt, sugar, cooked Basmati rice, and dried yeast. Grated coconut, honey, cardamom, nuts, and other flavoring agents may be added to taste.
Also a famous dessert in Indian cuisine, hoppers are prepared in a similar way to Western pancakes. Batter is mixed with the basic ingredients as well as any additions the chef prefers, then covered and stored overnight at room temperature. This will allow the batter to ferment. The next day, a skillet is heated to cook the appam.
To form the appam, it should be prepared like a very thin, lacy pancake without the edges being cooked too thoroughly. After one side of the batter is browned, the sides are pushed up with a spatula to form a small, basket-like structure. They are served plain or with eggs, honey, or any other food nestled inside the edible bowl.
For a crispier appam, the batter can be deep fried in cooking oil. When the dessert treat known as neyyappam is made, ghee can be added during cooking. Mashed bananas, cream, and other smooth additions can be added to create a new consistency or flavor.
A traditional way to serve appam involves pairing the plain pancake with a spicy condiment. Coconut milk curry is a favorite type of food used for this purpose, though any curry will work well. Rather than pouring the condiment inside the pancake, these are often eating by simply dipping the rice cake into the spicy substances.
Various types of appam can also be made while the dough is cooking. Egg hoppers can be made when an egg is added into the pancake center as the batter cooks. Jaggery, or unrefined sugar, and palm treacle, or syrup, can be added to create decadent honey hoppers. Syrup can also be used in creating the popular dish, pesaha appam.
String hopper, an entire meal made from this dish, can be prepared with rice noodles. The entire meal itself consists of the hoppers as well as chutney or sambol, lentils, and a small dish of curried meat. Instead of being fried on a skillet or deep-fried, these types of pancakes are usually cooked through steaming.