This recipe is a Western twist on a traditional Sri Lankan staple. The crispy fried chicken works beautifully with the rice pancakes and smooth coconut gravy HOPPER TO IT
Sri Lankan fried chicken & hoppers
Serves 6 Prep 30 mins, plus 24 hrs fermenting & brining Cook 1 hr £ 3.45 a portion 961 kcals, 56g fat, 30g sat. fat, 11g sugar
FOR THE BRINE 250ml coconut milk 1 garlic clove, crushed pinch of ground ginger 2 cardamom pods, crushed pinch of white pepper 500g skinless chicken breasts,
each cut into 3 pieces FOR THE FRIED CHICKEN COATING 1 litre sunflower or rapeseed oil 75g chickpea flour (gram flour) 25g cornflour 100g quick-cook polenta 25g desiccated coconut pinch each of smoked paprika
and cayenne pepper FOR THE HOPPERS 250g rice flour 1½ tsp fast-action dried yeast 1½ tsp golden caster sugar 500ml coconut milk rapeseed oil, for brushing 4-6 eggs FOR THE SPINACH KIRI HODI (COCONUT & ONION GRAVY) 1 onion, thinly sliced 1 small green chilli, halved
lengthways 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced ½ tsp ground turmeric ½ tsp ground fenugreek seeds 1 tsp fish sauce 2 tsp cane or light brown sugar 400ml full-fat coconut milk 125g bag baby leaf spinach, chopped juice 1 lime FOR THE ONION SAMBOL 2 onions, finely chopped 2 red chillies, finely chopped 1 tsp smoked paprika 1 tbsp lime juice
1 For the brine, mix the coconut milk with the garlic, spices and 1 tsp salt. Put the chicken in a roasting tin, pour over the brine, cover with cling film and chill in the fridge for 24 hrs.
2 For the hoppers, put the rice flour in a bowl. In a jug, combine 125ml water with the yeast and sugar, and leave for 8 mins, until you see some foaming. Pour in the coconut milk, then whisk the wet ingredients into the rice flour to make a smooth batter slightly thinner than pancake batter. Season, cover and leave to ferment overnight in the fridge.
3 For the kiri hodi, put the onion, chilli, garlic, spices, fish sauce and sugar in a heavy-based saucepan with 1 tbsp water. Simmer over a low heat for 5 mins or until the onion softens. Pour in the coconut milk and cook for 1-2 mins more (do not boil). Tip in the spinach, stir until wilted, then remove from the heat. Add salt to taste, then add the lime juice.
4 To make the sambol, grind the onions with the chillies, smoked paprika and a big pinch of salt using a pestle and mortar or a mini processor to form a coarse paste. Season to taste with lime juice and more salt, if needed.
5 Remove the chicken and hoppers batter from the fridge about 1 hr before you intend to cook them to bring to room temperature. To cook the chicken, heat the oil in a deep-fat fryer or saucepan until it reaches 180C on a cooking thermometer. To make the fried chicken coating, combine all the ingredients in a bowl with ¼ tsp salt. Piece by piece, remove the chicken from its brine, allow the excess to drip off, then dredge it in the coating. Shake off the excess, then fry in the oil for 6- 8 mins until cooked through. Drain on kitchen paper, then rest in a low oven while you make the hoppers.
6 For the hoppers, whisk the mixture to remove any lumps that might have formed – add a splash of water to thin it if needed. Heat a non-stick frying pan, hopper pan or small high-sided wok and brush on some rapeseed oil with kitchen paper. Add a ladle of the mix to the pan and immediately swirl it around and up the edges to create a bowlshaped pancake. Cook for 1 min, add an egg, then cover with a lid and cook for 2-3 mins more until the egg is cooked and the edges are starting to brown. Repeat with the rest of the batter and eggs. Serve the hoppers with the chicken, sambol and kiri hodi.