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May 8, 2008 08:16 AM

Indian and Sri Lankan Breads

Just came across this site with a lot of good looking recipes for Indian breads:

for Mr. Alka, the Sri Lanka recipes:
you MUST try "hoppers" -- pancakes made in small wok. with egg or not, they are addictive!

with a fresh Sri Lanka pol sambol or seeni sambol, you will be a lifetime fan, trust me. (sambols, look here for a couple of my faves:

If you know of other good recipes, including your variations, please share! I especially like stuffed nans, and breads with greens in them.


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  1. Great minds think alike!

    I've been experimenting with paratha, roti, and chapati recently; they are closely related flatbreads that seem harder to screw up badly by this non-baker. I haven't tried naan except for a box mix - came out just OK.

    See these sites:

    Here's a topic with loads o' links:

    1. Mangoes and Curry Leaves by Alford and Duguid has a good hopper recipe as well as some really tasty sambol recipes. String Hoppers are more problematic, but even more addictive. The infolanka site has really great and very authentic recipes on it.

      6 Replies
      1. re: jdm

        It's interesting that you think of hoppers et al as bread. More like crepes no? In contrast to the rotis, parathas, naans, etc which are more within the bread definition. But as long as you don't call papads bread! (I've lost count of reviews and recipes that say that; I mean would people call crackers or potato chips bread? I don't know when and how this started.)

        1. re: Rasam

          well, rasam, breads was just an opener for my post. true, hoppers are like crepes, but what other category to lump them in? not veg, not meat, not dessert (necessarily). animal, vegetable, mineral? so, for me, it goes under breads. in your estimation, are pappads "snacks" or something else? i guess typically, flour (of whatever origin) tells me "breads"....but, as you know, it's all good!

          1. re: alkapal

            True, it's all good and that's the main thing.
            But, out of curiosity, if you had been writing about European/Western breads, would you have included crepes on the grounds that they're not meat or vegetables?

            Papads are snacks, like crackers or chips, and not just in my estimation. They don't function like rotis or naans or parathas or other breads. Same with things like muthris or namakparas etc. These are snacks, even if these are made of flour (like crackers)......

            1. re: Rasam

              i included hoppers because i wanted everyone to know their beauty and glory as food. i didn't discuss pappadum. i'm married to a sri lankan, so this is not a eurocentric concept.

              edit: just queried mr. alka:
              "do you think hoppers are bread"
              "well, no, they're partially fermented rice flour..."
              "OK, well what do you think the are?"
              "well, they're like pancakes..."
              "so, what else might they be called?"
              "well, yeah, i guess they are bread."

              so, straight from the horse's mouth! ('cause, really, how else would you categorize them, "grain product"? if so, that opens a whole new realm...) i'm not stuck on the characterization, i just felt it was closest for purposes of the thread topic. ;-)

              PS, he promised me a great party with a "hoppers guy" who will do a minimum of 200 --- next time i'm in melbourne, OZ.

              1. re: alkapal

                Well: some of these items don't lend them to easy comparitive classification. Even though they are made from rice / lentil / wheat flour, hoppers, aapams, dosais, uthappams (etc etc) are eaten with chutneys and/or sambar and/or etc in the manner that chapatis etc are, but the manner of preparation is different from chapatis etc. So which do they resemble? Similarly, papads are made from lentil and/or rice flours, but are emphatically not breads, but cracker like snacks. (I keep referring to papads to illustrate my point.)

                So my question to you remains: if you wanted to introduce others to the beauties of crepes, would you describe them as chapati like things, or aapam/hopper/dosai like things? Would you classify them as breads, or something else? If you kept pushing the question you might force a choice (as in the conversation with mr a.) but this ends up confusing as much as clarifying. So, if you personally would classify crepes with breads, then your original categorization would make sense. If you would not, then you might want to make similar distinctions when describing SA items too.

                There's a wide tendency to misunderstand and underestimate SA food on the part of those outside the region (everything is 'curry' and so on).
                I am far from saying that you are doing this; in fact, it would be great if someone like yourself who has a connection to the region and food would clarify how you did this cultural translation, which respects the foods in question and yet creates a window for understanding. I am sure the foodie audience here would be able to appreciate these finer distinctions.

                1. re: Rasam

                  "if you wanted to introduce others to the beauties of crepes, would you describe them as chapati like things, or aapam/hopper/dosai like things? Would you classify them as breads, or something else?"

                  I don't know what alkapal has in mind but it would depend on my audience. To a guy off the street of Bangalore who has little intellectual/academic interest in food, I'd probably explain them as "soft, wheat dosai, sort of." To an American, as a sort of "thin pancake" (or regionally, "flapjack") though the French who may eat crepes at almost any time but "breakfast", for example, don't have such things. Otherwise, they're certainly "breads" in Euro/British tradition along with crackers, rolls and other shelf stable "breads," along with their sweetend variants, cakes, cookies, etc.. There is a reason the British call American cookies "biscuits" and some form of "muffin"-y things, "cakes." :)

                  Someone might understand how crackers and potato chips taste relative to each other, if you describe them as such, but it wouldn't explain anything about how they're made or how they fit into thier respective culture's cuisines.