December 1, 2011 • Food & Cooking
Today’s dish is called puttu. One of my personal favorites. It is a south Indian and Sri Lankan dish, quite often had at breakfast (but you don’t have to limit it to that). On our spiritual and culinary tour to South India in February 2012 we will get to try this in Kerala.
It’s made out of roasted rice flour and fresh grated coconut, and then steamed. It is served with curries. You’ll find this dish in the state of Kerala and also in northern Sri Lanka – a popular dish among the Tamils there.
IN my trip to Sri Lanka earlier this year I purchased a metal vessel that is specially designed to steam puttu. It has two parts. The bottom section is bowl shaped and holds water that is boiled. The upper section is cylindrical in shape and contains the puttu. A circular metal piece with holes in it is placed at the bottom of the vessel to prevent the puttu from falling into the water vessel. This piece also allows steam to pass through it and steam the puttu. In days gone by this equipment was made with a combination of a clay pot and bamboo tube.
Roasted red rice flour (one and a half cups)
Roasted white rice flour (1 cup)
Freshly grated coconut (or dessicated coconut if you don’t have fresh coconut)
Hot water (one and a half to two cups)
1 teaspoon of salt
1. Mix both the flour in a big bowl along with the salt. Mix it well.
2. Slowly add the water to the mixture until the correct texture is achieved. Stir it well as you add the hot water to it.
What’s the right texture? Why did you have to ask!….it’s hard to describe but you should be able to break the dough with your fingers into tiny breadcrumbs. And by the way, always add a little water at a time. It’s easier to add water then to remove it.
3. Fill the cylindrical steamer with the breadcrumbs alternating every few inches with a layer of freshly grated coconut.
Note: I like to do it differently than this traditional recipe. I usually mix the grated coconut in with the dry flour right at Step 1. But don’t tell the Sri Lankan grandmas and mums who taught me this recipe in their kitchens.
4. Start the steaming process. When steam makes its way through the cylindrical vessel and out the other end the puttu is officially steamed and ready to be served.
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