How to Host a Sri Lankan Hopper Party

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photo: Lauren Joseph

Hosting can be a lot, especially when part of the game is having the soirée you put together look effortless. In this series, veteran party-throwers tell us how they pull off their highly specific, flawlessly executed gatherings (well beyond the holidays). This installment comes from Lauren Joseph, a London-based chef and writer who — when she’s not cooking professionally — likes to invite her friends over and make hoppers, a thin, fermented rice-batter pancake that’s a Sri Lankan staple. Here, she details how she preps and cooks the meal, which includes a myriad of curries, sambols, and fresh vegetables.

My Sri Lankan family seems to have endless traditions around dinner — but few are held more sacred than the hopper party. Hoppers, a Sri Lankan food you can eat at any time of day, are thin, fermented rice-batter pancakes with sides that curl up into a bowl shape. Flavor-wise, they’re like a slightly less-earthy Ethiopian injera. But texturally, hoppers are all on their own with crisp, lacy edges and a pillowy center, cushy enough to soak up curries. Torn with your hands, then scooped, folded, or stuffed with other dishes and condiments, they make the ideal vessel for hot island food. Swirl coconut cream and a little jaggery into one and you have a sweet-savory dessert, or crack an egg into that pillowy middle and let the soft yolk temper chili heat.

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