Sunday, August 2, 2009

Puttu Uppumavu – Breakfast Puttu gets makeover at the teatime!

There’s an image etched in my memories, woven into my life in past and present, by god’s grace ….the sight of my parents casually sitting in our sit-out, either sipping evening tea or just relaxing and having a chit-chat……a sight that is part of my childhood, school and college days and I don’t remember the innumerable times I have asked them this particular question those days, “ what do you have so much to talk even after 20-25 years of marriage…?? “ as this was a routine repeated in their morning newspaper session, evening tea, pre dinner and post dinner and if it was a weekend, pre lunch and post lunch too!!!! I would consider myself “ blessed” if CJJ and I can have the same when we reach that phase in life.

And I detested the thought of not seeing them there when I returned from school as I never liked the idea of going to my uncle’s house in the neighbourhood to get the keys, opening the doors and letting myself in and having my evening snacks all alone, especially if they re store -bought. That’s how much one can get spoilt, if you have a stay-at home mom who makes sure that she serves homemade evening snacks all 5 days of the week coz her husband, especially her daughter, a rebellious and thankless teenager need something homemade to munch on when they return home in the evening !! Well, the regulars here probably have an idea by now how spoilt I was and how I was tamed eventually!

Unlike my brother who could be satisfied even with a bowl of store-bought spicy Kerala mixture, so he could run to his friends place, play cricket or ride his BSA Champ, I always wanted something simple, filling yet fresh and homemade snacks for teatime. Somehow my mother managed to satisfy me playing around with certain main ingredients like ripe plantain, beaten rice, rice flour or all –purpose flour etc. At times some of the items she made always triggered some tension between me and my father as those were our hot favourites and we could never get enough of them….like Neyyil varattiya pazham /ripe plantains caramelised in ghee/clarified butter and sprinkled with sugar granules…….Poruthal ada/Orotti, the country style rustic flat bread roasted in a clay pot lined with banana leaves and then soaked in sweetened coconut milk ……the grainy Avalose podi, sweetened with sugar and mashed with Poovan-pazham, a variety of ripe banana……Kappa Puzhungiyathu/boiled cassava with Ulli Mulaku chammanthi, a relish with pearl onions and green chillies and coconut oil……and then some of the leftover preparations like Puttu Uppumavu and Idiappam Uppumaavu………if it was any of these snacks, the gluttonous me always wanted a share from my father’s plate too and the latter never showed any overly fatherly love when it comes to sharing such things and was quite possessive about his share…...hope he doesn’t read this :P

I wanted not only a share from his plate, but a share from his tea too, as me and my brother were never encouraged to have tea/coffee while growing up. As a compromise deal, sometimes they gave us just a gulp before they finished their tea. That one gulp of the hot beverage with a plate of spicy Puttu Uppumavu or Idiappam Uppumaavu , with a note of heat from the green chillies and ginger was my all time favourite and a lively and colourlful thread in my memories…….

All these visuals were dancing in my head from the time I saw Tina’s post around two months back I guess and wanted to have some Puttu Uppumavu very badly but due to several reasons, Puttu never appeared in our menu all these weeks. Finally, last Friday I happened to make some Puttu for dinner and deliberately made some extra to get leftovers and satisfied my cravings the next day and relived some of those cherished moments. Thank you, Tina for for helping me take a dive back to my treasured days :)

Puttu Uppumavu is nothing but a leftover evening snack whipped up in a hurry in most of the Kerala homes and is made with our classic breakfast, Puttu, a steamed cake with rice flour and coconut flakes. By the tea time, Puttu gets a spicy makeover with some green chillies, ginger , onion and curry leaves seasoned with fragrant coconut oil and mustard seeds. I have given the ingredient list and method to make the classic version of Puttu at the how-to section of my post on Erachi/Meat Puttu which is a variation from the original. Please check that if you re totally new to Puttu, before proceeding to make this dish.

Here’s how we make this evening snack at home:

  • 1 ½ tbsp coconut oil
  • ¾ tsp mustard seeds
  • ¼ tsp Uzhunnu parippu/black gram
  • 2 dry red chillies, broken
  • ½ cup finely chopped big onion
  • 3 finely chopped Indian green chillies or to taste
  • 1 tsp finely chopped ginger
  • 1-2 sprigs of curry leaves
  • 1 ½ to 1 ¾ cups steam cooked puttu, crushed well
  • Salt (Optional)
  • 1 tsp ghee/clarified butter
  • Heat oil in shallow pan; splutter mustard seeds , followed by black gram and dry red chilllies. Throw in the chopped onion and sauté till they turn transparent. Now add green chillies and ginger and when everything turn soft, add the curry leaves and coarsely crushed and already steam cooked Puttu; blend everything well and stir until Puttu is reheated and combined thoroughly with the rest of the ingredients. Do a taste test and add salt only if required. Before turning off the stove, make a small well in the centre of the mixture and pour ghee and immediately stir well and combine everything. Serve hot with tea/coffee.
  • If you re using refrigerated leftover Puttu, I suggest drizzling some water on top and microwaving (reheating) the Puttu before adding it to the pan as it helps to get a soft and moist texture.
  • Variation : You can replace Puttu with Idiappam or Idli and make equally yummy snacks though the one with Idiappam is more appealing.
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