Iddiapam are also known as string hoppers in Sri Lankan cooking. You will need specialty iddiappam flour and an iddiappam mould (or a pasta machine). These are both available from Indian and Sri Lankan grocery stores.
This recipe serves 6 as part of a shared meal.
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What to do
1. To make the coconut broth, score a shallow cross in the base of the tomato. Put in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave for 30 seconds, then transfer to cold water and peel the skin away from the cross. Cut the tomato in half, scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon and discard. Roughly dice the flesh and set aside.
2. Heat the oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat, add the mustard seeds and let them crackle for 20 seconds. Add the fennel and fenugreek, onion and green chilli and cook for about 5 minutes or until the onion starts to soften. Add the turmeric, curry leaves and ginger, stir to combine, then add the tomato and coconut milk and cook for 10 minutes.
3. Add 160ml of water, as you want a light broth that is not too thick or coconuty, and cook for 5 minutes, then season with salt. Strain the broth through a sieve and discard the solids. Set aside.
4. To make the iddiappams, bring 250-310ml of water to the boil. Add a pinch of salt and the oil. Put the flour in a large bowl and very gradually add the boiled water to make a soft dough. Knead well and form into a ball.
5. Grease the inside of an iddiappam mould with oil and fill with fist-sized portions of the dough at a time. When you press the mould, the dough will begin to fall out in strings. Move the mould in a circular motion, so that the strings fall onto a steaming tray to form a 7.5cm diameter round – it should be a thin layer of strings, only one or two layers thick. If using a pasta maker, keep the noodles as thin as possible, finer than angel hair pasta, more like vermicelli.
6. Repeat with the remaining dough. You should have 12 iddiappams. Steam the iddiappams for 10-15 minutes. Keep warm.
7. To prepare the crab topping, heat the oil in a heavy-based frying pan over medium-high heat, add the mustard seeds and let them crackle for about 20 seconds. Add the ginger, fennel, onion, green chilli and turmeric. Add the crab meat and just enough of the coconut broth to moisten the crab and toss to combine. Add the fresh coconut and curry leaves and remove from the heat.
8. To serve, put two iddiappams on each plate. Top with some crab mixture and spoon over a little of the coconut broth to moisten. Serve accompanied by a small ramekin of additional coconut broth for spooning over during eating.