Book review: Hoppers: The Cookbook By Karan Gokani

21 December 2022 by
Book review: Hoppers: The Cookbook By Karan Gokani

Hoppers' debut cookbook is a window into Sri Lanka, encompassing all the dishes on which the restaurant thrives

Restaurants has been an unstoppable foodie force, finding fans across London and beyond. With this cookbook you get a tiny insight into why. Just looking at the hefty book (which stands at 352 pages) you can feel the sheer pride pumped into Hoppers.

The first restaurant in Soho was founded by JKS Restaurants and Karan Gokani in October 2015, quickly expanding to Marylebone and King's Cross. It serves Sri Lankan food, a cuisine epitomised by tropical spice and sharing qualities with South Indian and Indonesian food. If you're expecting to find out how to make dishes from the Hoppers menu, you're in luck. In fact, this book will help you make just about every dish that has ever been considered for the restaurant, including variations on Sri Lankan staples, such as devilled paneer and Hoppers' fish curry.

And of course there are the eponymous hoppers – coconut rice pancakes made in a rounded pan to create a bowl-like shape. There are two double-page spreads dedicated to the dish so that readers can become as intimately familiar with them as Hoppers' chefs undoubtedly are.

Nearly 40 pages at the start of the book make up the introduction, taking you through the history of the restaurant and the different elements of Sri Lankan cooking. Interspersed between the recipes are snapshots of the nation – friends of Hoppers with inspiring stories, tales of toddy tappers and views of the places the founders visit on their trips.

The book guides you through all aspects of Sri Lankan cooking: The section for lamprais, for example, is just 18 pages long (compared to the 70 for curries) and shows how to create a multi-course meal wrapped in a banana leaf, from preparation to packing, including a couple of curries. It's this attention to detail that makes Hoppers: The Cookbook so special.

This book is a love letter: to Sri Lanka, to Hoppers, and to everyone who has helped on the restaurant's journey so far.

Hoppers: The Cookbook by Karan Gokani (Quadrille, £30)

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