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.

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