For World Coconut Day -- celebrated on September 2 -- Anita Aikara brings you the ultimate Kerala recipe that makes perfect use of this sweet, creamy tropical fruit and will also get your palate Onam-ready.
Puttu requires four ingredients -- rice flour, coconut, salt and water. You will also need a puttu kutti or a special steamer.
The healthy version provided below, with ragi or finger millet powder, is high in proteins and calcium.
Traditionally puttu is had with mashed pazham or bananas. In Kerala, people enjoy it with ripe njali poovanpazhan or elaichi bananas. On special occasions, these oblong steamed rice cakes are had with nadan kadala (black channa) curry and a glass of kattan chaya or black tea.
Puttu also makes a winning combination with a leftover coconut-based meat, kozhi (chicken) or mutta (egg) curry. It can also be had all by itself or with pappadam or just a sprinkling of sugar.
If made well, puttu can be eaten hours after it was steamed, but it's best served hot.
- 1 cup coarsely ground ragi flour, you can use store-bought ragi puttu podi or any powder available in Kerala grocery shops or online
- 3-4 tbsp rice powder
- ½ cup grated fresh coconut
- Salt to taste
- In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, lightly roast the ragi powder over low heat for just a few minutes and then keep aside.
- In the same pan roast the rice powder over low heat for a few minutes.
Keep stirring so it doesn't stick or burn.
Take off heat before it turns brown.
- In a bowl, combine the ragi and the rice powder.
Add water and using your hands, mix it.
If the mixture feels very dry, add more water and mix.
Be careful how much water you add.
The mixture should be crumbly and not form a dough.
It should be moist enough that when you press it with your palms, it should hold shape.
When you release your palms and touch it, it should crumble and fall.
Break all tiny lumps with your fingers.
The puttu won't hold shape either if you add too little water.
- Take the puttu kutti and place the perforated disc right at the bottom.
Add a layer -- around 2 tbsp -- of the grated coconut, then 4 tbsp of puttu mixture, followed by more grated coconut.
Keep repeating the process until the puttu kutti is filled.
Cover it and keep aside.
- Boil water in the puttu kudam (which is shaped like a matka or pot and the puttu kutti is fitted into its mouth or opening) over medium-high heat.
You can also boil water in a pressure cooker.
- The puttu kutti used with the puttu kudam is different from the one used with a pressure cooker, so make sure you get the right one.
Once the water boils and starts to release steam, place the filled puttu kutti carefully over the kudam or a pressure cooker.
The pressure cooker's lid needs to be flat to hold the puttu kutti.
Make sure you remove the whistle if you are using the pressure cooker.
Once the puttu is ready, steam will release from the holes of the puttu kutti's lid.
After a few minutes, take the puttu kutti off the heat.
As the puttu kutti is hot, do use a dish towel or pot holder to lift it.
Take off the lid, turn it around and using a stick-like implement, start pushing the perforated disc at the bottom.
- Make sure there is a plate underneath the puttu kutti.
The steamed puttu will easily slide off onto the plate.
You can add some more of the grated coconut and serve it along with ripe bananas or kadala curry or chicken/egg/meat curry.
If you don't have any leftover curry in your fridge, just sprinkle some sugar on top and serve it hot.
Editor's Note: Pair the Puttu with Prasanna Pandarinathan's Chicken Curry.