These soft and fluffy flakes of steamed rice gently flavoured with the exotic coconut, palm jaggery and gingelly (sesame) oil, will wipe away the toil and sweat of a hard day’s work the morning after. Wholesome and delightful, puttu with banana, gingelly oil, milk (almond or coconut), and jaggery is a powerful way to start your day.
Growing up, we’d get to eat puttu usually made on a Saturday, when all of us were recovering from a hectic week. My mother knew what we needed to help us slow down, release all those knots, and meet the weekend head on. Mums know best, right? Gingelly oil, banana, milk, puttu and jaggery made for a heady aroma, and even though the steaming of the puttu took only 10 minutes, I couldn’t wait!
I love food and desserts I can swallow without chewing like this moist almond cake, and this breakfast smoothie. On a lazy morning when you don’t even want to chew, puttu comes to the rescue! There’s some so soothing about eating puttu with milk and jaggery and coconut and gingelly oil, like it’s saying: go on, enjoy your sweet breakfast slowly, everything else can wait, right now, I’m all you need. As I fill my mouth with its goodness, I ruminate on the week that went by, while I slowly mash it against my palate and feel the soft steamed grains give in easily.
Puttu is quite popular in the Southern states of India: Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka (Coorg and Kanara), and in Sri Lanka and is eaten with a variety of gravies, and side dishes. For people who make puttu regularly (variants include — ragi puttu, tapioca puttu, semolina puttu), having a puttu maker on hand is convenient. These long tubes are filled with rice flour and coconut and come out finished in logs that are easy to serve.
But there is a way to make puttu even if you don’t own a puttu maker, and I know that is why you are here! Well, the method I’ve outlined below to make arisi maavu puttu has forever been used in the kitchens of my great grandmother, grandmother and mother. The image of puttu without form and fluffy, releasing steam, just waiting to be scooped into my bowl where I can add banana, sesame oil and jaggery appeals to me. You can eat it two ways: 1. Take a helping of puttu on your plate or in your bowl, and add an equal amount of ripe mashed banana into it. Add more banana if you want it sweeter or jaggery or any other sweetener of your choice. Pour in a teaspoon of gingelly (sesame) oil (you can add ghee if you want), add 2 tablespoons grated coconut, and a pinch of cinnamon powder or cardamom powder. Enjoy! 2. Take a helping of puttu in your bowl, add jaggery, a teaspoon of gingelly oil,add 2 tablespoons grated coconut, and a pinch of cardamom or cinnamon powder, and as much milk or coconut milk or almond milk as you like! Slurrrrp.
- 1 cup rice flour 120 g
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons gingelly (sesame) oil you can use butter or ghee if you don't have it on hand
- 1/2 cup grated coconut 32 g
- 1/2 cup palm jaggery you can use any other sweetener you have like jaggery, honey or sugar
- 1/2 cup milk or coconut milk or almond milk
- 1 ripe banana
Roast the rice flour over medium flame in a kadai or wok for 8 minutes or until you get the roasted smell of rice flour, and it is off-white. Stir constantly and don’t wait for it to brown.
Turn off the flame, add the salt and continue to stir for another 2 minutes.
While it cools, you can powder the jaggery and get the equipment ready: pour about 4 cups of water in the aluminium vessel. Place the cotton cloth loosely over the vessel and secure it tightly with a string, right under the mouth of the vessel. The cloth should not sit stretched over the mouth of the vessel instead, it should dip in slightly into the vessel, concave in shape, like a bowl. The string should be tied tightly though. (There’s a picture of it above.)
Take 1/2 a cup of water, and sprinkle it a little at a time on the rice flour, while you rub it into the rice flour with your fingers. Break up any lumps. It should look like, and have the consistency of a pastry crust (found here and here, since I forgot to take pictures at this point). When you hold a fistful tightly, it must stick together, but easily break when you crush that lump with your fingers. It must be moist, not pasty. Take care that there are no noticeable lumps. You can put it in the food processor in small portions and pulse it a couple of time to get rid of the lumps.
Put the moistened rice flour on top of the cotton cloth. With the long end of a wooden spoon make a few holes in the flour so the steam flows easily through these pockets.
Cover the vessel with a bowl — or any dome-shaped lid that fits tightly atop the vessel, not a flat one — and place it over high heat.
From the time the water starts boiling (you’ll hear it), give the puttu 10 minutes to cook on high heat.
During that time stir the flour twice so the cooking is even, and before you cover it with a bowl, make the little pockets so the steam comes through.
After 15 minutes, turn off the heat and let it sit for 5-10 minutes.
Follow step 1, 2, and 4 from above.
Fill the bottom portion of the puttu maker (puttu kadam or a bamboo kolaputtu) or ildi maker with water, and bring it to a boil.
Sprinkle a thin layer of grated coconut on the perforate disc in the puttu maker, and top it with a thick layer of the moistened rice flour. Top it with a thin layer of grated coconut, followed by a thick layer of moistened rice flour, and so on until it is full. Do not press it in; let it sit lightly. Place this portion over the one with water and let it cook in the steam for 7 minutes. If you are using an idli maker, place a clean cotton cloth over the idli mould and spoon a 2 cm-layer (3/4 inch-layer) of the moistened rice flour over it. Let it sit lightly, do not press it down. Let it cook in the steam for 10 minutes.
Take a helping of puttu on your plate or in your bowl, and add an equal amount of ripe mashed banana into it. Add more banana if you want it sweeter or jaggery or any other sweetener of your choice. Pour in a teaspoon of gingelly (sesame) oil (you can add ghee if you want), add 2 tablespoons grated coconut, and a pinch of cinnamon powder or cardamom powder. Enjoy!
Take a helping of puttu in your bowl, add jaggery, a teaspoon of gingelly oil, add 2 tablespoons grated coconut, and a pinch of cardamom or cinnamon powder, and as much milk or coconut milk or almond milk as you like (porridge consistency)! Slurrrrp.
If you’re eating it for lunch or dinner, try it with fish curry, or chicken stew, or a vegetable stew. A popular choice is kadala curry (black chickpea curry).
Since this portion of puttu serves two, you can double it for four people. Whatever portion you are using (even if you are using a handful of flour, just for yourself!), remember that the coconut is half that portion. If you want puttu podi, after you mix in water, let it rest for 10 minutes before you place it on the cloth to steam. Do not roast the puttu podi.
Equipment: an aluminium vessel, a cotton cloth or a multi-layered cheesecloth, a big bowl to cover the vessel with (the opening must sit firmly over the opening of the aluminium vessel), a cotton string. Of course, all this is in the case that you do not have a puttu maker.
Sesame Oil (Wikipedia)
7 Amazing health benefits of eating rice (Onlymyhealth)
10 Incredible Benefits Of Rice (Organic facts)
What Are the Benefits of Gingelly Oil? (LIVESTRONG.COM)
9 Incredible Benefits Of Sesame Oil (Organic facts)
25 Powerful Reasons to Eat Bananas (FOOD MATTERS)