Wednesday, 24 February 2010

World Of Noodles 2: String Hoppers

Over a distinctly mediocre curry before Christmas, my friend Nuf mused that the next time we were out, we should try his local Sri Lankan restaurant. I was a bit sceptical until he revealed that noodles in the form of string hoppers or to use their Tamil name, idiyappam are a staple of Sri Lankan cuisine.

We finally got round to trying noodles Sri Lankan style, a couple of weeks ago but the subsequent write-up was in danger of becoming the world's longest blog post. That's why I've decided to cover some background information in this post. 

As you can see from the top photo, string hoppers are noodle cakes, which can either be made out of rice flour or wheat flour. The noodle dough is pressed through a special sieve to form the cakes, which are then steamed. There are loads of recipes on the internet like this one from the blog, Sri Lanka Cooking.

String hoppers are popular throughout Sri Lanka and South India where they are served with curry as an alternative to rice or bread. They are also used in a variant of the renowned Sri Lankan street snack, kothu (usually made with roti). Pictured above is seafood kothu where string hoppers are chopped up and mixed on a griddle with egg, onions, chilli, and seafood.

So would the combo of string hoppers topped with a Sri Lankan curry be to my liking ? And would the kothu be as tasty as it looked ? All will be revealed in the next post. In the meantime, I'd love to hear from any readers who can provide more insight into string hoppers and their role in Sri Lankan and South Indian cuisine. 


  1. Ooooh, I've never had string hoppers but only plain hoppers (like appam). Very curious abou the kothu though - I keep seeing it on Sri Lankan menus and am very keen to try it!

  2. I love string hoppers. My mum used to make them when I was little, and serve them along side a potato masala. Not sure how authentic that was, but it tasted really grat.

  3. It's not the most aesthetically pleasing meal I've seen. Hopefully it tasted better than it looked.

  4. I don't really eat a lot of Indian food but I think I've tried this before; the string hoppers are quite different from normal Chinese-type noodles and are quite mushy right? Like overcooked "mee suah" without the saltiness.

  5. This looks familiar. I defintely have seen this back home before. It's served in the Little India back in Singapore. Given the large south Indian community there, it's certainly not surprising.

    Hmm, given the way that it's made, it should taste more... mushy, isn't it?

  6. Su-Lin - without giving too much away on my upcoming post, Sri Lankan cuisine in general and Kothu in particular is well worth trying.

    Sharmila - who cares about authenticity. Your Mum lovingly made string hoppers and frankly she could serve them with what she wanted ! There are few things noodles don't go with and potato masala sounds like a great partner for string hoppers

    Phil - mate, good of you to drop by ! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and whilst you may think the kothu is scruffy, I quite like the look of it. It's also worth remembering the conventionally good looking can be shallow and vacuous - a maxim that applies to food as well as people.

    WB / LC - this was my 1st time eating string hoppers. The ones I had were made out of rice flour and reminded me of rice vermicelli (mai fen / bee hoon) albeit in a noodle cake form. I don't remember them being particularly mushy on their own or mixed with curry. When part of a kothu, they could be considered mushy but not in a bad way. Frankly, I haven't got a clue on how they should be but I liked the ones I had.

  7. Mmm haven't had this for a while, my friend's mother used to make this for us when I was little. I must try the version at a Sri Lankan restaurant nearby

  8. I can't quite believe, I've never had these 'til now. I feel that the brotherhood of noodles would kick me out if they ever found out.