Eating My Way Around London: Hoppers
Whenever I feel a bit homesick I would go to Hoppers usually to the one in soho. Yes I know how can I be homesick and eat Sri Lankan food when I am Lebanese. I grew up with a group of Sri Lankan house keepers at home. My parents were adamant that our help have their own kitchen to cook their own ethnic food and a plot in the garden to grow some of their vegetables that they can’t find in lebanon. Little did they know that I would be spending my time in this kitchen and eating their food. I can still hear my mom saying :” Ghena leave Renuka’s food to Renuka” and me replying but mom it is so good. Where I get a rebuttal: you mean ours is not? “ now how can i come back from that. How can i explain that this stewed Kari with all these spices feel like someone hugged me and covered me with a warm blanket ?
This is how I developed my exotic taste buds. I say exotic because the spice mixed from Asia or South East Asia and the Indian peninsula hit different spots compared to the mix used in our Mediterranean cuisine. Curry became a comfort food for me with the same intensity as Stuffed aubergines and zucchinis but with less hassle in cooking.
I was around oxford street on a hot day and passed by Hoppers Wigmore Street and I couldn't resist. It was lunch time and I started to feel peckish, and most importantly there was no queue, unlike the Firth Street one. I went in and took my seat on a stool by the window and ordered Crab Kari with a hopper and Pol Sambal.
The smell of the crab curry brought back the blanket. It’s so rich and uplifting ... and I get to eat with my hands and make a mess... but I didn't care.. it was so good.
The Kari came with a hopper. A hopper or an Appam is Sri Lankan or South Indian lace weave looking pancake made of fermented rice batter with coconut milk shaped as a basket. You rip a piece and dip it in the curry sauce or you rip a bigger piece and scoop mouthfuls zof Kari in the place of a spoon. As an accompagnement I had ordered a Pol Sambol, a coconut base dried spice mix made of coconut, dried chilli , onions and fish.
The Pol Sambol gave the dish a nice kick but with the amalgam of Kari flavors i don't think it was needed.
It was a much needed lunch break that gave me the comfort I needed and I left the place with a smile on my face and happy belly.