Puttu with Cherupayarukari or more commonly, Kadalakari, is a popular breakfast dish in Kerala. Puttu is made by steam cooking moistened rice flour with coconut in a special cylindrical tube. It is usually eaten with a spicy curry on the side, either made with whole moong lentils or dark brown chickpeas. The other accompaniments are small ripe bananas and thin crisp Kerala pappadums.
PUTTU : The rice flour for Puttu is slightly gritty in texture, just short of being fine ground. It is available ready made. Traditionally, raw medium grained rice was soaked in water for about an hour. The water was drained and the rice would be spread out on a cotton towel. After an hour or so, the rice would be dry but slightly damp. This rice would be pounded by hand into a powder and sieved to get the right sized grit. Though tradionally made only with white or red/ brown rice flour, Puttu can also be made with wheat flour, millet flour, corn flour or semolina.
To make puttu, you also need a special steamer called a “Kodam” and “Puttukutti”. A “Kodam” is a flat bottomed, round aluminium or steel vessel in which water is boiled. The “Puttukutti” is a cylindrical aluminium tube placed on top of the Kodam or pot. The boiling water produces steam which goes into through the cylindrical tube into which the Puttu is filled, and cooks it. Traditional Puttukuttis were made out of hollowed bamboo but now it is available in steel. Puttu also used to be cooked in the empty halves of coconut shells. This dome shaped Puttu is called Cheratta Puttu. Cheratta is the Malayalam word for coconut shells.
A variety of steel cylindrical Puttu steamers that can be used with pressure cookers is also available. These sit on the “spout” on the pressure cooker lids where the weight is usually placed.
Kadalakari is usually made with black (smaller dark brown) variety of chickpeas (garbanzo beans). Today, I’m sharing my recipe for Cherupayarukari which is is similar but made with whole moong lentils. This is easier to make because whole moong lentils don’t require overnight soaking before cooking. You can make Kadalakari with this recipe by substituting the whole moong beans with cooked dark brown/ black chickpeas.
For rice Puttu, I prefer using Chemba rice flour. Chemba rice is a red/ brown variety of rice that has a sweet and nutty taste. Remember the rice flour used here is not regular fine rice flour, but a flour which feels slightly grainy/ gritty to the fingers.
CHERUPAYARUKARI : Cherupayarukari is a spicy dish of whole moong lentils in a coconut based gravy. There are different versions of this preparation. Traditional Kerala style preparation of this uses onions. My recipe does not use onions. I also add a little cumin and some jaggery, both of which are no traditional. The jaggery does not sweeten the curry but balances out the spice.
Puttu can also be made without the Puttu maker unit of the pot and cylindrical tube. Most Indians have a set of idli steaming trays. You can use these to make Puttu. 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. Do not press the flour down into either the puttu maker or idli depression. If the steam cannot pass through the flour, the Puttu will not cook properly.
If you would like to use onions in your Cherupayarukari, slice 1 big or 2 small onions thin. Sauté them till light brown and grind to paste with the other ingredients for the curry.
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.