Mumbai Food: Pop-up serves the Sri Lankan appam with a twist
A new pop-up venture fills up traditional bowl-shaped appams with exciting flavours, including prawns, cheddar and mango
Lakshit Shetty making an appam
At a convention hall in Nariman Point, Lakshit Shetty ladles a dollop of silk smooth, brown-hued batter into a deep-bottom cast iron skillet placed on a gas stove.
Using protective gear (read: a folded cloth), he swirls the vessel to ensure that the batter coats its circumference. He uses toothpick to scrape off the edges and conjures up a perfect bowl-shaped multigrain appam. The 29-year-old's expertise in the cuisine is courtesy a six-year stint as sous chef at the ITC group of hotels.
Co-founders Jai Wadhwa, Lakshit and Sahil Wadhwa. Pic/Bipin Kokate
Then, he scoops a portion of Kodi Khima on the appam and garnishes it with cilantro from a tray garden next to him. Siblings Sahil and Jai Wadhwa, who've known Lakshit from Bombay Scottish days, step forward to serve two chutneys on the side — Kerala Chutnee and Superfood Chutnee laced with broccoli bits. We mop up the heavenly wafer-thin appam with the spiced chicken mince, the tangy chutneys elevating the dish.
A fortnight ago, the trio launched Hoppumm as a pop-up at a fashion borough. The venture derives its name from hoppers, the Sri Lankan version of appams, made using a batter comprising rice flour, lentils and coconut milk. "Both differ only (and slightly) in regional spices and taste," informs Lakshit.
"We hit upon the concept at a family wedding last year, where guests loved the appams and stew prepared by Lakshit. It's a versatile item. For the last eight months, we've been focused on trying novel combinations with appams," shares Sahil, 34, who has worked with corporate catering enterprises in the past. "We had a dozen tasting sessions and have settled on nine varieties," adds Jai, 29, who comes with event management experience.
Paneer Pataka with Spinach And Garlic base. Pic/Bipin Kokate
Currently, the menu includes three base variants — Spinach and Garlic, Multigrain and Traditional — with a host of fillings. The crisp spinach appam, laced with black garlic, complements the deliciously crumbly paneer bhurji. It even cuts through the sharp flavours of cheddar in the Italian hybrid.
Multigrain Appam with Kodi Khima. Pic/Bipin Kokate
Another favourite is Chemmeen Moilee, with prawns cooked to perfection in a creamy sweet-spicy gravy, resting on a traditional base. We also try an Egg Appam with mustard pickle, said to be a Sri Lankan breakfast staple. "I've tried hoppers in London and Sri Lanka, both were radically different due to use of local produce.
Chemmeen Moilee. Pic/Bipin Kokate
That's one trait we're keen to imbibe," shares Sahil, adding that a mango-based appam is in the offing. While the team has discussed the idea of a restaurant in the future, with a more extensive menu, for the next few months, spot them at pop-ups. They also take catering orders (25 pax).