Sunday, June 24, 2007

Erachi Puttu – Steamed Rice Flour cakes layered with spicy meat mixture- A Kerala Breakfast.

“Ohh….Again the same old stuff? Quite bored with it…..why not something else?” Perhaps, this is something most of the Malayalees, brought up in Kerala, have asked their mothers or grand mothers or sometimes fathers too, at the breakfast table when a plate of Puttu (Steamed rice flour cakes) has been served and perhaps, something that is still being asked, if the cereal generation is yet to be full-blown!! But this response changes as soon as any Keralite leaves their homeland and then instead of that long face, the face glows up with inexplicable happiness at the sight of Puttu and it ‘s like, "WOW….Puttu!!".

Puttu is a staple in Kerala households, something that can be made in a jiffy, something that can be made with readily available ingredients in any Kerala household, something that can be accompanied with any variety of side dish and probably that is the reason why it is repeated so frequently in a week. I remember our childhood days and that mad rush hours in the early mornings, before going to school……my mother, like many others, was so skilled at multi-tasking, used to finish cooking breakfast and a full lunch, from the scratch and pack our lunch and snack boxes before 7.45am, for three of us….and it was also common that she would be holding one of our textbooks, preparing us with our lessons and also helping us complete our homework and my father would be pressing our uniforms and helping my mother in all the non-cooking activities, like breaking a coconut by striking on the shell with a machete like knife and very tactfully collecting the coconut water onto a glass……there was acute competition for grabbing that glass of coconut water as it used to be utterly sweet……and then Mummy used to sit on that Chirava, a wooden seat attached with a serrated blade, for scrapping the coconut and then mixing the rice flour and grated coconut mixture in a haste and then steaming the dish in a bamboo cylinder…..and after going through the entire process, as though she was on a time bomb, when she brought that plate of Puttu to her two lovely kids, who would be waiting to say ,” Ohh…again…??? “So naïve and irresponsible!!! I feel so embarrassed when I unpack my memory sack to those days, considering the fact that whipping up two meals from a scratch consecutively for four days, is enough for me to take a day off on the fifth day!!!! How the hell did she manage cooking up three full meals from the scratch and a home made evening snack on all 7 days a week, at a period when dishwasher and microwaves and frozen vegetables and fruits were not a familiar sight in the markets!!.

Well, the story does not end here…..After forcefully having that breakfast, I used to run to catch my school bus and while waiting for the bus, my attention would be probably at the Chaaya-kada (tea-shop) , across the street……various breakfast items shelved in the glass racks….and the man over there crushing Pappadam (Indian wafers) to the white cylindrical Puttu and squishing ‘em with kadala Curry (Black Chickpeas) and popping it in his mouth and sipping piping hot tea along with it ….Slurrrrrppppppp!!!! Having said NO to homemade, hygienic, love coated Puttu, this sight was something irresistible for me!! May be this is something like ‘neighbors plate envy’ syndrome…I don’t know….but if given a plate of Puttu and Kadala curry at that moment, I would have gobbled them up instantaneously :)

And it was during my hostel days in Chennai, I literally realized the value of Mummy’s food and Puttu in particular, as what we were served occasionally in that name was something like steamed rice flour with no signs of grated coconut. And when I started my married life, I tried making Puttu but failed miserably as my Puttu never used to cook well, until my dear friend AL pointed out that the mixture should not be stacked in the mould, instead loosely fill them and from then onwards, I never grumbled or got to hear any complaints as well.

Puttu can be made with rice, wheat, ragi flour etc. The accompaniments to Puttu vary from Kadala curry (black Chickpeas) to steamed ripe plantains or spicy meat curry or ghee and a dash of sugar, or cherupayar curry (Green Grams) to my all-time favourite combo, Puttu and Fish curry. There are some who would like to have with fresh ripe bananas or ripe mangoes and there are some who like to have with black tea or a milk-tea! Erachi Puttu (Steamed rice flour cakes with spicy meat layers) is another variety. Last month a friend of mine mentioned about this variety, after she had it from a Mappila/Muslim food festival at our hometown in Kerala and she tried to give me a rough idea about the meat mix and then I remembered having seen a recipe HERE. Finally I decided to try this and tweaked my cutlet mix recipe a bit and there was a winner! :)

Ingredients for Meat Mixture:
  • 1 ½ cups cooked or uncooked minced meat
  • ¾ cup minced big onion (1 medium size)
  • ¾ tbsp minced ginger
  • ¾ tbsp minced garlic
  • 4-5 green chilies minced
  • 1 spring curry leaves coarsely chopped
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tbsp coriander powder
  • ½ tbsp pepper powder
  • ½ tbsp garam masala + ¼ tsp
  • ¼ tsp finely crushed fennel seeds/Perinjeerakam
  • 1 tbsp ketchup OR ¼ to ½ cup finely chopped tomato *
  • A handful of green peas (around 1/8 cup)
  • 1tbsp oil
  • Salt to taste.
  • Heat oil in a pan and throw in minced onions and cook until they begin to look golden brown. Add minced ginger, garlic, green chilies and curry leaves and cook until they are soft. To this add turmeric powder, coriander powder, pepper powder, crushed fennel seeds and garam masala and stir well until the raw smell goes and the spices are well coated with the fresh ingredients. Now add tomato and mix well and cook till it is soft and at this stage add the uncooked minced meat and salt and let it cook thoroughly; this might take 10-12 minutes. If the cooked minced meat is used, then stir-fry only for 2-3 minutes until all the ingredients are well combined. When it is almost done, add green peace and cook for 3-4 minutes and also sprinkle ¼ tsp garam masala to retain the aroma of the spices. Once it is done (should be moist), let it cool down a bit in room temperature.
Ingredients for Puttu:-
  • 2 cups Rice Flour
  • 1 ½ cups grated coconut + ¾ cup for layering
  • ½ to ¾ cup water OR Coconut water (depending on the quality of rice flour)
  • ½ tsp salt
Directions to make Puttu Mixture:-
  • Dry-Roast the rice flour in low heat for 1-2 minutes, stirring continuously and when it is just warm enough, when you touch with fingers, remove the flour to a large bowl and let it cool. Do not engage yourself in any other activities during this process, so as not to burn your rice flour.
  • In a large bowl, mix roasted rice flour with salt and grated coconut and sprinkle water intermittently while mixing with hands and break the lumps formed as you mix. Mixing should be gentle enough and mix well until the mixture is damp enough or slightly wet. The right consistency is when the rice flour-grated coconut mixture is a damp-powdered form and not sticky dough; As my S aunt taught me, “when you grab a handful of the mixture and make a fist with it and if it holds together and then breaks when you loosen the fingers, then you have reached the right consistency!!”
Directions for final assembling of Puttu Mixture and Meat Mixture:-
  • To make the Chirattaputtu (Meat Puttu in Coconut shell): Drill a small hall in the halved and emptied coconut shell/chiratta and make a first layer with a tablespoon of grated coconut, another layer with ¼ cup of Puttu mixture, third layer with meat mixture, one more layer with Puttu mixture and sprinkle some grated coconut on top. You should not stack the mixture, just fill in loosely. Heat water in a pressure cooker and when the steam starts coming out, place the Chiratta/shell on the nozzle of the pressure cooker and keep a kitchen napkin as a lid for the chiratta/shell. Let it steam for 6-8 minutes in medium heat and then remove and invert the chiratta/shell on to a plate and slowly lift the shell. If it is cooked well, then the Puttu will come off of the chiratta/shell very easily, in the shape of the shell itself. Serve hot.
  • To make Kutti puttu/ Cylindrical Puttu, use a Puttu Kutti/Puttu Maker and layer the mixture the same way as mentioned earlier and place it on the pressure cooker and let it steam-cook for 8-10 minutes. Once it is done, place the cylinder on to a place and using a skewer, slowly push from the bottom of the cylinder and Voila! If it is perfectly cooked, you will get a cylindrical shaped Puttu without breaking or crumbling :)
* Note: If you want your meat mixture to be moist, then use the tomato; if you are looking for a spicy-meaty mixture, use 1 tbsp ketchup instead of tomatoes. Though my personal preference is for spicy-meaty one, I want my Erachi Puttu to be moist and hence I prefer using tomatoes.

Phew!!!!! I have never experienced so much of confusion and difficulty in explaining a recipe. If "A picture is worth a thousand words", then there is no equivalent to this pictorial which gives a thorough understanding of the entire Puttu Making Process. For more , click here.

This goes to WBB#12, hosted at Trupti’s.

Wonder why Puttu is not served here in Indian Restaurants in US, along with Naan, Roti, Idli, Dosa and Pongal ! Aren't we/they missing something ??


No part of the content ( articles, photographs, recipes) of this blog may be reproduced without my written permission.Copyright © 2007-2010 All rights reserved.


  1. OMG Shn I just had a heavy dinner and you are making me drool with those pictures... That looks absolutely scrumptious!
    And yeah, I can totally relate to your story... my mom used to prepare all our dishes and pack up the lunchbox and then go to work... and like you if I have to cook a single meal from scratch I whine for two days...

  2. I wish i could fly over to your place to taste this...

    I miss my mom's cooking! She does not cook a lot since she's very busy with work now, but her food is always very good. Simple, fresh and tasty! Not to mention, mom's food is always the healthiest in the world!

  3. Looks great, Shn! I'd love some puttu (sans the erachi) and kadalacurry! This used to be staple Sunday breakfast at home!!

  4. Shn
    You are a puttu encyclopedia...even though I may never make puttu, I am really enlightened by your post. I have seen this in a lot of Mallu Blogs and got to know what Kadala curry is too, but this post gave me a good view of the whole thing.

    I really want to taste this some time. You are true about how Moms would make almost 4 meals a day and also fresh breakfast every morning and we would fail to appreciate.

    The pics are gorgeous like always

  5. such a beautiful and awesome presentation. puttu is my all time favorite. the shape of puttu looks different from usual!!

  6. thank you for the step by stp instructions to make chiratta pittu. i don't have a puttu steamer and this is invaluable.

  7. Yes, I hated puttu with a passion till I started to live away from home. Now puttu has attained the status of a delicacy in my view.

  8. we just ate chiratta puttu and kadala curry . as a vegetarian I'm unable to try ur stuffing !
    the morning mutli tasking u mentioned about mother's is so true ! its a real wonder how they did all at the same time ...i too travelled down the memory lane .... those busy mornings when amma was making breakfasts and packing lunches and also had to reach her work place on time : how appa broke the coconut n pressed our uniforms!

  9. Looks beautiful.As soon as I come back home,I will order a Puttu maker!:))

  10. Yes, I do wish they would make this at the Indian restaurants!!!! Your version looks so good..and yes, totally healthy, totally spicy!

    thanks! :)

  11. Steaming puttu in a coconut shell looks like a great idea. I wouldn't even care to plate it. Gobble it and dispose that bio-friendly cup :)

  12. I ve never tasted puttu...but this is mouth watering and i really want to try...slurp!

  13. This is a breakfast for champions! I like savoury instead of sweet for breakfast so this would be just right.

    I have a Chirava too! I bought it when I was in Guyana in December. I grew up using this kind of coconut grater. While I use the food processor too, I find that the Chirava is much much faster. I am so excited by the discovery. Actually in these parts it is called the 'sit down grater' or the 'Indian grater' :)

  14. I could never understand what is it in puttu that my friends use to just love!I used to tell my amma that I need a putt-kutti to push the puttu down my throat,but now......:(

  15. perfect describtion of hostel puttu.. steamed rice flour!lol!!u are right.. i appreciate puttu only after leaving the country.
    the mix for the meat would taste great if u added uluva in the beginning and reduce tomato.. and i never add green peas.. why dilute the taste!!suggestion..:)

  16. Shn, if those restaurants could put your tale of the love-coated puttu on the cover of the menu, they'd be taking numbers at the door. Beautiful write up as always :)

  17. Why don't u send me some shn...they look so nice.

  18. Now I'm suffering from what you call 'neighbour's plate envy' - not that I make puttu but don't much like my own cooking!

  19. hi mishmash,
    puttu is my all time favourite:).nice presentation and urs looks delicious.

  20. Hi Shn,
    I have a request: May I come and spend a week with you to learn about Keralan cooking? (I'll do all the cleaning up). ;)

    Oh, your photos are so appetizing!

  21. Forget restaurants abroad... many of these home specialties never find their way to resturants even in India. I've been wanting to try Puttu... but can I do without the bamboo case?

  22. hey Shn..i had tried ur ghee rice the other day.i had put it in MW & gone out ,when i came back n opened the door my house ws full of the aromatic rice came out quite well .not sticky perfectly cooked i'm gonna follow only ur measurements ..thnks.BTW irachi looks fab..

  23. sorry a mistake ..i meant irachi puttu looks fabulous..!

  24. This is looking so perfect....Love it...Mouthwatering one...Love it!

  25. u r rocking lady .....i am invited to ur place today ...i wish i could come ..or wish u where my nieghbor ...this is an excellent one .I missed the veg rice also rock

  26. wow...have u ever seriously thought of writing a recipie book or starting a niche restuarant..very very tempting delicacies!! you made our humble puttu into such exotic dish!!! :-)

  27. Ithanu CHIRATTA PUTTU SANDWICH...wonderful post,dear!! kalakkal nadan prathal!!

  28. I love reading your posts!
    You've got lovely photos and recipes, too!

  29. Sig,we re all lazyyyyy kiddos right :)

    Anh,you said it's food is tastiest and healthiest. You are always welcome at my place...let me know when you plan to fly over:)

    Jyothsna, thank you....I love both :)

    Sandeepa, taking you through my home, our kitchen and dining table is the best way to make you experience our kinda food and I am delighted to see such a comment. If you come to my place, just let me know what all you want to taste, I will prepare everything for you :)

    Sharmi,the popular puttu form is the cylindrical one and this is done in coconut shell...thats the difference:)

    Bee, though I have a puttu steamer, I use the chiratta all the time. Click on the links that is given on my posts which will give you a better idea of making chirattaputtu.There is a pictorial in Keralamela link too.

    Gini, very true :)

    Nanditha, such thoughts make me homesick all the time :(

    Asha, hahah now we get to see your puttu maker too after that ice cream maker and mixer :)

    Trupti,thank you dear...hope we get to see them soon in Indian restaurants :)

    Suganya, you need not dispose the coconut shells...they are re-usable :)

    A little light, try this on your next trip to kerala :) Or see if there is a Kerala Restaurant in the vicinity :)

    Cynthia, that was a discovery for me too dear...cant believe that chirava is used in your place too !!! Unbelievable !

    Sumitha,you have a great sense of humour, girl...did crack me up :)))

    Mallugirl, green peas was for little colour and I agree on the tomato part but I wanted my meat mix to be moist as once I tried with ketchup and it tasted great but was a bit try...anyway I have added a note in my post now, after seeing ur comment :)Thanks!

    Linda,oh..thank you sweetie...thanks a lot for this encouragement :)

    Prema, why not...can I have your address ?:))

    Sra,its the same with me too....anything prepared by someone else is 'amruthu' for me :)

    Prajusha, thank you so muchhh :)

    Susa, need to do the cleaning up part, instead you can teach me some Italian cooking ..Deal ?:)

    Raaga, you can use a coconut shell..instructions are given in my post....the other links in my post has some good pictorials which will give you an idea about the whole process...Hope you try and comes out well!Btw, thanks a lot for dropping by :)

    Deena.Glad that Veg ghee rice came out well for you....getting perfectly cooked non-sticky rice is the mandatory thing for such preparations....Was very happy to read your success story :)

    Sukanya, Thanks :)

    Deepa, there is no need for can drop by anytime...:)

    Mathew, if you think I have made the humble puttu to exotic delicay, I am more than happy to hear that as I really want these restaurants to realise that it is a delicacy to be added in their menu!! Really dont understand why it's not served along with other Indian breads!! hehhe...cookbook and wayyy :)

    Bharathy, thanks!

    Maninas, thanks for stopping by...a warm welcome to Mishmash! :)


  30. Vykiya velayil oru comment adikkathe ethrakke manoharam aaya oru post il ninne engane pokkum..

    Njanum aa chayakkada puttum appavum kandu kothichittunde..What u described there is the ditto of my childhood morning...I think almost all the keralities have this type of childhood..But my father never help my mother in pressing ...thenga pottikkal ente daddy de joli thanneya...Dear I never had that erachi puttu..But we used to make puttu and erachi curry..Its one of my favouite thing...Mishmash! Its really good pics and Recipe is Nice..This vacation I will tell my mummy to try ur erachi puttu

  31. You could try to find puttu on the menu in Srilankan restaurants..I had it at one such place in NY a few years back!My amma makes carrot puttu and "bella"(kannur word for "jaggery!) puttu!this looks lovely too..

  32. Thanx mish for ssuch a wonderful recipe. It urned out really wonderful.
    PS: Would you try and post a recipe for pidid and kozhi curry too?

  33. Even i realised the value of puttu and all kerala food :).. aftr ma school i reached in pune,doin my graduation .. and nw we got one project about indian utensil .. and i am working on puttu kutti one realise about these small small stuffs .. only we knw the tase of puttu .. nice descrption .. i liked the way you express aboutputtu and the story .. Nice!!


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