Sri Lankan String Hoppers, Sothi (Yellow Coconut Curry), Masala Fried Egg and Spicy Prawn Fritters

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I know, it looks like there is a lot on the plate. But believe me, this is quite a light meal. Perfect for dinner actually. This dish is a culinary specialty in Sri Lanka. Oddly though, in Sri Lanka, String Hoppers or Idiyappam is even served for breakfast.

The original string hoppers are made from plain rice flour. And over time, this was also introduced with wheat flour for a healthier option which produces a brown hue. More and more people are opting for the latter for health reasons, compromising the divine taste of the original white rice deliciousness. In Malaysia, the string hoppers are called putu mayam and has become somewhat a local delight eaten with grated coconut in brown sugar – something like a desert. This way of eating with sugar is an influence from the Kerala-Indians.

I really don’t want to bore you too much on the origins of the string hoppers. Instead, all I really want to do it tempt you into trying (if you never have) these delicious string hoppers. And if you have tried putu mayam, you should try it the Sri Lankan way. Once you taste the wonderfully steamed rice string hoppers in a sweet and sour coconut curry and a masala fried egg, you’ll never turn back. It explodes a few different taste buds at the same time and that’s why I love this so much!

However, making the string hoppers is not easy. It’s a painful process of kneading the dough in hot water and squeezing it out in this tiny wooden vessel and then steaming it over a water bath for 5~10minutes. The hardest part for me was the “squeezing” as it drained all the energy out of me. Thankfully, the husband lent a helping hand. 🙂 After this episode, I was compelled to look for a more automated options to make this and there were a few and this one I liked best. Maybe, I should invest on this. http://www.oritha.com/naveeno-95-black-and-white-1-set-1.html

String Hoppers (Idiyappam)

  • 1 cup white rice flour (or idyappam flour)
  • 1 cup wheat flour (or wheat idiyappam flour)
  • 3 cups of hot water
  • 2 tsp salt

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Method:

  1. Mix both flour and salt in a bowl
  2. Add hot water into the flour while using the back of a wooden spoon, mixing the floor together. You will get a somewhat a crumbly dough
  3. Using your hands (maybe use plastic gloves), knead the dough a little till it becomes fully mixed and no floury lumps in them. It’s okay if it’s still mushy
  4. Squeeze out the string hoppers using your gadget to get a rounded shapes over a tray that you will use over your boiler. I used a pizza tray with holes and layered it with a baking paper
  5. Steam string hoppers for 5~10mins

Sothi (Yellow Coconut Curry)

  • 1 tbsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 onion sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 1~2 green chili halved and seeds removed (you can leave the seeds if you want more heat)
  • 1 tomato roughly chopped
  • 2 cups of coconut milk
  • 1/4~1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 cup of evaporated milk/light cream/milk
  • 1 tsp tamarind paste
  • salt
  • 3~4 curry leaves
  • 1/2 a lime juice

Method:

  1. Fry the fenugreek seeds, onions and garlic in pan till the aroma is released from the seeds
  2. Add in the chilis, tomatoes and 1 cup of water. Let this come to a boil
  3. Then add in the coconut milk, tamarind paste and turmeric. The sothi will start to come together. Add salt and add in the milk. Do not let the sothi boil. Once the sothi has had enough heat, turn off the flame and add in the lime juice to finish off

Masala Fried Egg

  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • Salt
  • 1 onion chopped fine
  • 1 green chili seeds removed and chopped fine
  • 3~4 curry leaves chopped fine
  • 4 eggs

Method:

  1. Mix the turmeric and chili powder with little water (~2tbsp) till it is easily dissolved and no longer lumpy
  2. Break in the eggs in the turmeric and chili mix. Beat it thoroughly with required salt.
  3. Fry the onions, chili and curry leaves in a pan till softened. Add in the egg batter and fry in omelettes.

Spicy Prawn Fritters

Method:

  1. Similar to the masala egg, coat prawns in chili powder and turmeric and salt. You can add some cajun crumbs if you like.
  2. Fry them thoroughly

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Quick, Easy & Delicious South Indian Sambar (Dhal Curry)

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Being born Sri Lankan, did not expose me much to sambar since sambar is not on the menu. However, being in Malaysia exposed me to other Indian food and sambar is a staple side dish for banana leaf rice (yum) or thosai. My personal favourite is with rawa thosai as shown in the picture. My mother tried making the sambar on several occasions and sadly for her, it didn’t turn out very well. I don’t blame her since she has been cooking Sri Lankan dishes all her life.

Lucky for me, marrying into a Malayalee family imparted me with a few good recipes and one of them is the sambar (dhal curry). I never knew how simple it was to cook this up till I actually tried it myself. Okay, maybe I modified this recipe a little and it’s not entirely the Malayalee fashion but it’s just as good or better than restaurant standards. First and foremost, you will need the split Toor Dhal (yellowish) and sambar powder (preferably Baba’s) which you can get in any Indian groceries. Once you have this two basic ingredients, you can cook up a sambar in no time. The vegetables that go in doesn’t have to be as per recipe. You can tweak it with whatever vegetable you have in hand. There was a one time that I made a pumpkin sambar since I ran out of carrots and potatoes. Let me tell you, the pumpkin sambar was out of this world. So, don’t be too rigid with recipes, alright?

Ingredients:

  • 1~2 cups of split Toor Dhal
  • 2 shallots diced
  • 1 green chili halved and seeds removed
  • 2 large potatoes cut into quarters
  • 1 regular carrot sliced slightly thick (1.5~2cm thickness)
  • 1 white carrot sliced the same way
  • 2 drumsticks cut into 3~4 inches length
  • 3 tbsp of sambar powder
  • 3 tbsp of grated coconut (ground very fine) – optional
  • 1 tsp of tamarind paste (you can add more if you like it more sour)
  • Salt to taste

Special for tempering:

  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 4~5 curry leaves
  • 3 dried chilis
  • 1/2 red onion diced
  • If are making sambar with brinjal or okra, instead of putting it in the sambar, you can fry it together with the tempering ingredients and dump into sambar in the end. 

Method:

  1. Firstly, rince the dhal thoroughly and then boiling it in a pot under a medium flame with double the amount of water. Boil the dhal till it’s soft to mash with your fingers.
  2. Most of the water would have evaporated. If you still have some water left, you can chose to keep this or just pour out the excess water.
  3. Add more water till it’s triple the amount of dhal. Dump in all your onions, chili, vegetables and sambar powder into the sambar. Let this cook till you have cooked your vegetables through. Good idea to check the potato as it usually takes the longest. You want your potato to be soft and easy to mash so that when you eat, it just melts in your mouth.
  4. Once your sambar is cooked, add salt, tamarind and coconut. If you feel your sambar is not thick enough, add more sambar powder. And if it’s too thick, add more water. Let the sambar simmer for another minute or two and then you can turn off the flame.
  5. Assuming you are an excellent multi-tasker, while your sambar is cooking, you can fry all the tempering ingredients in a another pan till the onions are caramelized. If you are frying brinjal or okra with this, start frying the vegetable first before adding the tempering ingredients as the vegetables take a while to cook.
  6. After your sambar is done, add the tempered ingredients into it. And walla! Sambar is done. I’re sure if you make a dilute version of this, you can turn it into a soup!