Delicious rice pancakes with coconut sambol and stir-fried vegetables.
I serve the rice flour pancakes with two types of vegetable stir-fries - a leek-onion-tamarind stir-fry and a sweet potato and broccoli stir-fry, as well as a super tasty coconut sambol with lime and chillies.
Coconut sambol is often served in Sri Lanka - as are the pancakes but in the form of hoppers, thin, bowl-shaped pancakes. I have made them as ordinary pancakes here as it's easier to make them that way.
You really need fresh coconut if you are going to make the coconut sambol - either buy a whole coconut, or pieces of fresh coconut. You can leave it out altogether and just eat the rice pancakes with the stir-fries.
To crack open a whole coconut, pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F. Pierce one of the "eyes" of the coconut and empty the coconut water into a bowl (place a sieve above the bowl to catch any debris). Place the coconut on foil on a baking tray and place it in the oven for 20 minutes, until the shell starts to crack. Take it out of the oven and once cool, place it on a chopping board and use either a pestle or hammer to crack open fully. The outer shell should come off quite easily and you can use a potato peeler to take off the thin brown layer nearest to the white flesh.
I use a mixture of coconut water and coconut milk for the pancakes. Unless you have a whole coconut and use the water from it, you can buy coconut water or replace it with plain water.
Coconut milk tends to separate in the tin so I empty a full fat, 400ml, 14fl oz, 1.7 cup tin into a bowl and mix it with a whisk. You are only using some of this coconut milk for the pancakes - I add the rest to the sweet potato and broccoli stir-fry.
For 4 people:
You add only part of the liquid to begin with, and the rest after the mix has rested for an hour.
Whisk together all of the above ingredients in a bowl, cover with a towel and leave in room temperature for an hour. (Use this time to make the sambol and stir-fries.)
After an hour, add 150 ml, 5fl oz, 0.6 cup full-fat coconut milk to the bowl and mix well. Leave to rest for a further 15 minutes. You can make this batter in advance and leave it covered in the fridge for several hours before using it to make the pancakes.
Mix everything together in a glass, porcelain or ceramic bowl and leave to the side.
Leek, onion and tamarind stir-fry:
Once you've made the sambol, start with this stir-fry.
Add the oil to a large pot over a low to medium heat. Add the leeks, onion, ginger, cardamon pods, salt and pepper to the pot. Stir every now and then for 15 minutes, making sure the mixture doesn't burn.
Add the tamarind paste, water and honey and continue to cook for a further 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave to rest. Once you have fried the pancakes, pick out the five cardamom pods and reheat quickly.
Sweet potato and broccoli stir-fry:
I use broccolini/tenderstem broccoli for this stir-fry but you can use use ordinary broccoli instead. Include some of the stem if you do and just chop it finely.
Add the oil to a wok or large frying pan over a medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the grated sweet potato, chopped broccoli, ginger, garlic and all the spices plus the salt to the wok and keep stirring for five minutes, making sure the vegetables are not getting burnt. Add the coconut milk and keep stirring for a further two minutes. Turn off the heat. Quickly reheat the stir-fry once you have fried the pancakes.
To make the pancakes:
Turn the oven on low. Once your pancake batter is ready, give it a good stir and add a little coconut or vegetable oil to a pancake/crepe pan or a frying pan over a medium-high heat. Once the pan is quite hot add a small ladleful of the pancake batter to the pan and swirl the pan around so you get a thin pancake. Fry for about a minute before using a spatula to flip it over, and fry for another minute. Place the pancake on a plate and put it in the oven. Keep frying until you have used up all the batter.
Once the pancakes are ready, reheat both stir-fries and serve the pancakes with a good dollop of each stir-fry and coconut sambol if you have made it.
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