Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Puttu-Kadala is to kerala what Iddli-Saambaar is to Tamil nadu. There's an entire blog dedicated to puttu by malayalam bloggers, showcasing its versatility and popularity. A fellow Malayalam blogger joked that if a Malayali could learn some marketing skills from a Chinese, we would be seeing puttu carry outs in every corner of the USA.
Making Puttu can look complicated for the uninitiated. It needs a cylindrical mold called puttu kudam, which has a large hole at one end for the steam to enter, and a tight lid with tiny holes at the other. A disc with holes is placed at the bottom end of the puttu kudam, so that the filling does not fall off through the large hole. Damp rice powder and grated coconut are filled in the mold and the puttukudam is kept on the steam nozzle of the pressure cooker and steamed. Sounds complicated, I know! To me the aroma of steamed puttu is abundant recompense for all this trouble.
The trick in making real soft puttus is in the moisture content of rice flour. Adding too much water can give you a hard lump, too little water and you get dry puttu tasting of raw rice flour. I use a little less than half a cup of water for two cups of flour. This measurement cannot hold good every time, and you will need to keep adding water little by little until the whole batch is damp enough. To know you have the correct dampness, take a little of the flour between your index finger and thumb, press gently and let it fall gently. If it holds its form as it falls down the flour is damp enough.
Rice flour : 2 cups
Grated coconut : 1 cup
Water : about half cup
Mix the rice flour and salt well in a large bowl. Spray water little by little, and keep mixing it in gently with your fingers. The entire batch of flour has to be damp enough. Cover and keep aside for 10 minutes.(To be on the safe side, you can give a quick blending to the flour in the small jar of the blender. Add a little of the damp flour to the small jar of the blender and blend it for 4 to 5 seconds. Repeat until all the flour is this mixed)
I normally use store bought dessicated coconut to make my life easier, though it cannot be compared to fresh coconut. If you are using dessicated coconut, sprinkle some water on it so that it gets slightly damp. Fresh coconut doesn't need this water treatment.
Fill about half your pressure cooker with water , cover and bring to a boil. Do not put the weight.
To fill the puttu mold, place the disc at the end of the mold. Add one teaspoon of coconut first, followed by 3 to 4 tea spoons of rice flour, then again a tea spoon of coconut. Keep layering thus until the mold is almost filled. Close the lid.
After steam has build up inside the cooker, place the puttu mold on the nozzle of the cooker, and steam for 3 to 4 minutes.
Take the mold in a hand and using a skewer push the cooked dish out of the mold through the bottom end. I must confess that I am yet to perfect this skill of getting the puttu out of the mold in perfect shape, mine tumble out haphazardly.
If you do not have and cannot find a puttu kudam, and still want to try this dish, cheer up. There’s a better way! Puttu can also be made in an empty coconut shell, and this version called chiratta puttu has a unique aroma. All you need is a half of an empty coconut shell with a small hole drilled to its end. Add a little grated coconut to the bottom of the shell, and fill half the shell with damp rice powder. Now place the shell on the nozzle of the pressure cooker, cover with the other half of the shell and steam for 3 to 4 minutes. Use a spoon to gently remove the puttu from the shell.
Blistering barnacles! Writing down this recipe was much harder than making puttu!
Black chickpeas: 1 cup
Onion, sliced: a quarter
Tomatoes, cubed : 1
Grated coconut : 4 T
Green chilli : 1
Chilli powder: 1 t
Corriander powder: 2 t
Turmeric powder: ½ t
Mustard seeds : ¼ t
Curry leaf : 4-5
Bay leaf : 1
Cumin : 1 t
Oil : 1 T
Soak the chickpeas overnight, or atleast for 5 hours. Pressure cook until well done.
Grind the coconut and cumin to a smooth paste.
Heat oil in a pot. Add mustard seeds , let splutter. Add the onions, green chilli ad curry leaf. Saute for a minute. Add the spice powders and let fry for a minutes. Next, the tomatoes and salt. Let cook until the tomatoes are mashed up, adding a little hot water if necessary. Now add the cooked chana, along with 3 to 4 table spoons of the hot water it was cooked in. Simmer for 3 to four minutes, and add the coconut-cumin paste and bring the curry to a quick boil. Enjoy with your puttu .