Place of origin
Region or state
|India (Kerala, Lakshadweep, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu),
Sri Lanka, Mauritius
|Rice flour, coconut|
Puttu ( Malayalam: പുട്ട്, pronounced [ˈputtu], Sinhala පිට්ටු, Tamil: புட்டு, பிட்டு ) is a South Indian and Sri Lankan breakfast dish of steamed cylinders of ground rice layered with coconut. It is highly popular in the Indian state of Kerala as well as in many areas of Sri Lanka, where it is also known as pittu. Puttu is served with side dishes such as palm sugar or chickpea curry or banana.
Puttu means 'portioned' in Tamil and as the dish is prevalent in Tamil-speaking areas in South India and Sri Lanka this is the likely origin of its name.
Puttu has been mentioned in works of Tamil literature, including:
- Tiruppugazh, a 15th-century anthology of Tamil religious songs. The poet Arunagirinathar recounts puttu being offered to Vinayagar (Lord Ganesh).
- Thiruvilaiyadal Puranam, a 16th-century Tamil epic. This was written by Paramjyoti Munivar and describes 64 divine acts of Somasundara Peruman (Lord Shiva of Madurai).
Puttu principally consists of coarsely ground rice, grated coconut and water. It is often spiced with cumin, but may have other spices. The Sri Lankan variant is usually made with wheat flour or red rice-flour without cumin.
Puttu is made by slowly adding water to ground rice until the correct texture is achieved. It is then spiced, formed and steamed with layers of grated coconut.
Puttu is generally cooked in a metal puttu kutti vessel with two sections. The lower section holds water and the upper section holds the puttu — where the rice mixture is inserted with layers of grated coconut. Perforated lids separate the sections to allow the steam to pass between them.
A number of alternative cooking vessels are used, such as traditional vessels where a perforated coconut shell is attached to a section of bamboo, or a chiratta puttu made of a coconut shell or of metal shaped similarly to a coconut shell.
Puttu is frequently served with various breakfast dishes, such as papadum, plantain, fish curry, jackfruit, mango, chicken curry and kadala curry. In some areas of Kerala people eat puttu accompanied by sweet black coffee. In Tamil Nadu it is served with grated coconut with jaggery made of palm or sugar cane, or with sweetened coconut milk. In Sri Lanka, pittu is usually accompanied with tripe curry, fish or a meat curry, coconut milk and a sambol.
Some variations of puttu use other grains such as wheat flour, tapioca and corn flour. The layered filling of coconut can be replaced by other foods, such as egg curry or banana.
Puttu prepared in a ball shape are called manipputtu.
In the Malay Archipelago, puttu, known as 'putu bambu' in Malay or 'puto bumbóng' in the Tagalog, consists of rice flour cooked with palm sugar, pandan leaf and desiccated coconut, steamed in bamboo pipes.
Puttu is also very common in Mauritius. It is usually sold by hawkers and is served as a snack. It is often misspelled poutou and should be spelled putu in Mauritian creole. The ingredients are the same; rice flour, sugar and desiccated coconut but cooked in metal cylinders.
World record attempt
In 2006, students of the Oriental school of Hotel Management in Wayanad in north Kerala made a 10 foot long puttu. They cooked the giant puttu in a specially designed 12 foot long aluminium mould, using 20 coconuts and 26 kg of powdered rice. It took about one and a half hours to cook.
- "BBC Indian Food Made Easy: Recipe for puttu", BBC, retrieved 2010-08-13
- "Kerala's Hotel Management Students Cook Up World Record Puttu", Indiatourism, retrieved 2010-10-22
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