September 9, 2008

Puttu with Cherupayarukari (Steamed Rice Flour and Coconut with Whole Moong Beans in a Spiced Coconut Gravy)

Puttu (steamed rice flour and coconut) with Kadalakari (black chickpeas in a spiced coconut gravy) is a popular breakfast dish in Kerala. It is also very popular as a Sunday breakfast in our home. I tend to make Kadalakari as often as I make Cherupayarukari (whole moong beans in a spiced coconut gravy) just for variety.

Puttu and kari is really complete only when served with the small and sweet variety of yellow bananas. Some people would argue that even this is incomplete unless “pappadam” (Kerala style blackgram/ urad dal pappads) is also served!


Nowadays, the rice flour for puttu is available ready made. Before this improvement, raw rice (not basmati) was soaked in water for about an hour. After draining the water, the rice would be spread out on a cotton towel for another hour or so to remove the moisture from the rice (not in the sun). Then the rice would be pounded into a powder (in my grandmother’s time) or powdered (in a mixer/ grinder these days) till fine but grainy to touch. This would be used to make the puttu.

Puttu can also be made with wheat flour, millet flour, corn flour (all these are powdered specially for making puttu, packed and available in the stores in Kerala) or semolina.

To make puttu, you also need a special steamer called a “kodam” and “puttukutti”. A “kodam” is a round aluminium vessel (with a flat bottom) into which water is poured and the mouth of which is sealed with a cylindrical aluminium tube into which the puttu and coconut is filled. This whole assembly is kept on the stove.

The water in the lower vessel would boil and produce steam which pushes through the puttu in the upper cylindrical chamber or “kutti” and cooks it. Nowadays, the kodam has largely been replaced by the pressure cooker and a stainless steel “kutti” which sits where the weight normally does, is available (see pictures).

The Kadalakari is usually made with black (smaller dark brown) variety of chickpeas (garbanzo beans). Here I have used whole “Cherupayaru” (whole moong beans) instead. Should you wish to make Kadala kari, just substitute the whole moong beans with the chickpeas and follow the same recipe.

For this post, I have used Chemba puttu podi (powdered reddish variety of whole rice) which has a nice aroma and a sweet taste. Remember the rice flour used here is not regular rice flour. But a fine flour which feels slightly grainy to the fingers.

Puttu (Steamed Rice And Coconut Cylinders)


1 1/2 cups Chemba rice flour (puttu podi)

1/2 tsp salt

Enough water to moisten the flour (approximately 3/4 cup)

1 cup freshly grated coconut


Put the rice and salt in a deep bowl. Sprinkle the water, a little at a time, and using your fingers keep mixing till the flour starts looking like crumbs. If you take a little in your fist and scrunch it up, it should hold its shape when you open your palm. Let the moistened rice powder rest for about 10 minutes.

If you add too little water, the puttu will be dry and uncooked when steamed. If you add too much water, the puttu will be a lumpy mass after steam cooking. Judging the water required to moisten the flour needs a little practice.

Now fill your pressure cooker or “kodam” with water till two thirds full. Place on the stove. Take the cylindrical part, place the small plate with holes (this comes with the puttu maker) in the bottom, and put in 2 tbsps of coconut followed by moistened rice flour till 1/4 th is filled. Now put in about 2 tbsps coconut onto it. Fill with some more flour till half filled. Put in 2 tbsp coconut followed by rice flour till 3/4 is filled and then 2 more tbsp of coconut. Cover the cylinder and place on the cooker spout or “Kodam” once the steam starts coming out. The rice flour must be loosely filled and not packed.

The steam will push its way out through the rice flour and the small holes on top. Steam for about 12 minutes till cooked. Then remove the cylindrical part from the steamer and push the “Puttu” variety, onto a plate, out slowly from underneath using the steel rod provided for this.

Use up the remaining flour and coconut similarly.
I try to reduce the coconut used here, so what I do is to add about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of grated coconut directly to the moistened rice flour. Then there is no need to alternate layers before steaming. Just fill the cylinder till about 3/4 full and steam cook.

Update (13th September, 2008):

Cherupayarukari (Whole Moong Beans in a Spiced Coconut Gravy):

There are different versions of this preparation and most of them use onions but no cumin seeds. Jaggery is also not normally used. This is supposed to be a spicy preparation and I find that the jaggery balances the spiciness without taking anything away from the taste.

Talking to another blogger yesterday and some comments at the end of this post suddenly made me realise that puttu could be made without a puttu maker. And if you are not planning to make puttu very often, then investing in a puttu maker is not worthwhile.

Most of us (Indians, at least) would be having a set of idli trays. So you can use these to make puttu. If you want to layer the moistened flour and coconut separately, then first put some fresh grated coconut in each depression in the idli tray. Then loosely pack the depressions with the moistened flour and steam till done. If you use coconut mixed with the moistened flour, similarly loosely pack it and steam till done.

Do not press the flour down into either the puttu maker or idli depression or the puttu will not cook prperly since there is no place for the steam to get through the puttu. The puttu may look like like an idli, but will taste most definitely like puttu!

My version has no onions and uses cumin seeds. If you would like to use onions, slice 1 big or 2 small onions and sauté them till light brown and add this to the ingredients to be ground into a paste.

Substitute the whole moong beans with kadala (black chickpeas) if you prefer to make a Kadalakari. They need to be soaked over night and cooked till soft, before using in this preparation. The moong beans do not need to be soaked before cooking.

Cherupayarukari (Whole Moong Beans in a Spiced Coconut Gravy)


1 1/2 cups whole moong beans

1/2 cup freshly grated coconut

1 1/2 tbsp coriander seeds

1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds

2 or 3 dry red chillies

1 1/2 inch piece cinnamon

4 or 5 cloves

4 pods green cardamom

2 sprigs curry leaves

2 tsp oil (coconut oil if you prefer)

1 1/2 tsp mustard seeds

1/4 tsp asafetida

1/4 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp powdered jaggery

salt to taste


Cook the moong beans till they’re soft and done but not mushy. Keep aside.

In 1/2 tsp oil, lightly fry the coriander and cumin seeds till golden. Add the cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and dry red chillies. Keep aside.

In the same pan, roast the coconut over low heat till it is lightly reddish brown and gives off a lovely aroma. Take off the heat. Now finely grind the roasted spices and the coconut along with 2 tbsps of the cooked moong beans using enough water to get a thick and smooth paste. Keep aside.

Heat the remaining 1 1/2 tsp oil and add the mustard seeds. When they splutter, add the curry leaves, the asafetida powder, and stir once. Immediately add the cooked moong beans with the water it has been cooked in. Add the turmeric powder, salt and powdered jaggery. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 5 to 8 minutes.

Add the coconut-spice paste and mix well. Allow the “Cherupayarukari” to simmer for a further 5 minutes and then take off the heat.
Serve with puttu. Both these recipes will serve 4.
  This “Cherupayarukari” goes well with chappathis or plain parathas too. It can be served with rice also.

This is my entry for WBB: Grains in my Breakfast, which is being hosted right here on this blog.

This also goes to Suganya of
Tasty Palettes who is guest hosting Indira’s JFI with the theme “Wholegrains”.

The Cherupayarukari is my submission for Susan’s
My Legume Love Affair whose Third Helping is being hosted by Lucinda at Nourish Me.


Mandira said...

aparna, delicious combination and healthy too!

Ivy said...

This looks delicious for breakfast.

Laavanya said...

This combination is my FIL's favorite.. but my MIL's version is a little bit more drier... Looks delicious!

Rachel said...

puttu with this payar is something new to me..adn so ignorant!!!

Divya Vikram said...

Looks too good.

Cham said...

Beautiful combo, love the cherupayaru curry!

karuna said...

loved the dal recipe. the rice flour and coconut, how did it get its colour?

Mike of Mike's Table said...

These both look amazing. I absolutely love puttu for breakfast (with bananas, of course!).

Cynthia said...

this looks so delicious! i used to have similar foods occasionally for brekkie back in singapore. how i miss my food!!!

Curry Leaf said...

Wow,They look amazing,I like the curry actually.Authentic combination

Cynthia said...

I would really like to taste this but would prefer someone to do it for me :) Is that so wrong?

Nags said...

u have made me terribly homesick, aparna :(

jayasree said...

Good presentation. Even I cook cherupayar for puttu apart from kadala curry. Now a days, its more of wheat puttu at home.

Uma said...

looks so delicious. lovely presentation too.

Reg. my recipe: Sorry for the confusion. I used toor dal for the curry. I updated the same.

Pearlsofeast said...

Aparna,I have always heard of about Puttu but never tried.This sounds too good.Hey the moong curry is stunning.I think I remember now that MIL make it this way.Adding coconut is also common to Oriya Kitchen.

sra said...

I think this is one of the few appliances that I don't own :) I am tempted but I know I won't use it more than once - I've only tried the white puttu so far.

Anamika:The Sugarcrafter said...

nice and nutritious recipe ..i am going to make it one of these days and thnak you for that !

FoodyGuru (Srimathi) said...

I have something special waiting for you in my blog.Please visit.


looks locely aparna .. I have had puttu at my mom's friends place .. its just lovely

Usha said...

Both of these look delicious,especially the moong looks perfect,I think my mother used to make it similarly will try this soon :)

Bharti said...

Beautiful dish...I've never eaten this before. Looks really interesting.

Mishmash ! said...

Aparna, I am sort of excited to see this combo at my place we have breakfast with puttu and cherupayar curry and but it is not the same with CJJ...he always teases me as though I come up with some weird combo....:))

Sunshinemom said...

I am planning to get one puttukutti too. Just love this dish but haven't made it at home!

Aparna said...

It is a very tasty and filling breakfast. One can go on till lunch without anything in between!
Do try it if you haven't. Of course, you would need a puttu maker!

Laavanya, sometimes I make this curry for chappathis then I make it thicker/ drier. But it needs to be a little "watery" if served with puttu.

Kadalakari is more usual with puttu, Rachel but Cherupayarukari is also served. Pappadum and sugar sometimes.

Karuna, Chemba rice (and the flour) is a red unpolished variety of rice, hence the colour of the puttu.

Its tough when familiar foods set off a nostalgia, Cynthia.

Not all, Cynthia. I would be more than happy to have others taste many foods for me too, on occasion.:D

Sorry, Nags.
I'm sure there;s some Indian store out there where you can source the raw materials. Finding thsuch places takes some time.

Thanks for the clarification, Uma.

I'm not very familiar with too much of Oriya food, despite having a very good Oriya friend. Somehow, I associate it with non-vegetarian.

Thank you, Srimathi.

I'm just beginning to realise the this combination seems to be unknown to many puttu "eaters". I took it for granted that every Keralite would know of this combination, Shn.

Harini, I just realised that you could use an idli "thattu" too. Loosely pack, the moistened puttu flour into the idli plates and steam. It will look different but taste the same.

Jude said...

Filipinos have something that sounds similar, too. It's called puto and it's also steamed rice flour. So much fun to find out about versions from other cultures :)

Lucy said...

Fascinating post, Aparna. I'm transported to your kitchen (which must smell heavenly!) and the puttu sound like a wonderful accompaniment.

Thank you so much for your delightful entry.

Susan said...

Oh, all this intriguing equipment for me to ponder!

Beautiful recipes, every one of them.

Angela said...

Fantastic post, Aparna! The Cherupayarukari particularly interests me. I'll keep an eye out for mung beans...

Chitra said...

Thanks for the finer tips. It was useful for me as i always used to make a mess when I added water to the powder. I just had to follow your tips and my puttu was finally like the true puttu. You could check out the photo at
It is also my entry for the MBP this month.