John Torode's Sri Lankan Hoppers

Hoppers in their simplest form are bowl-shaped pancakes made from fermented rice flour and coconut milk. Cooked in small round pans, they tend to come out crispy round the edges, thicker at the bottom.

January 2020 • Jules Verne

Take a trip to sunnier climes and join John Torode on the beautiful Sri Lankan coast to cook up a locally-inspired dish. Watch now >>


For the hoppers

  • 50g plain flour
  • 500g rice flour
  • About 425ml water
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Half an egg
  • 425ml coconut water
  • 50g plain flour
  • Salt

For the Seeni Sambol

  • 5 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 red onions, sliced finely
  • 2-3 tbsp chilli powder (adjust to taste)
  • Sprig of curry leaves
  • 2 pandan leaves, chopped into 3cm pieces
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 5 cloves
  • 5 cardamon pods
  • 1-2 tbsp tamarind pulp
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • Salt to taste

For the Pol Sambol

  • 1 tbsp dried chilli flakes (adjust to taste)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Large pinch of salt
  • 3 shallots, chopped
  • Squeeze of lime juice
  • Flesh of half a fresh coconut, grated (about 225g)


  1. To make the hoppers, place 50g plain flour and the rice flour in a large bowl. Gradually mix in enough water to make a thick paste. Cover the bowl and leave out of the fridge overnight to ferment.

  2. To make the Seeni Sambol, heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok. Add the onions, chilli powder, curry leaves, pandan leaves, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom and cook until the onions are softened and beginning to caramelise.

  3. Add the tamarind pulp and sugar then cook for another couple of minutes before seasoning with salt.

  4. To make the Pol Sambol, grind together the chilli, sugar and salt then add the shallots and carry on grinding to a paste.

  5. Add the lime juice then stir into the coconut.

  6. Add the baking powder, egg and 50g plain flour to the fermented hopper mix, then gradually stir in enough coconut milk to make a batter, similar to the consistency of pancake batter.

  7. Heat a hopper pan, or small wok (about 15cm diameter at the top). Once very hot, ladle in some of the hopper mixture, swirling the pan to coat the sides first and then over the base of the pan. Cook for a minute or so, then cover with a lid and cook for another couple of minutes. If you want to add an egg, crack the egg into the pan before putting the lid on top, and cook until the egg is firm.