Monday, March 1, 2010

Paean to Puttu: Palakkadan Chiratta Puttu/ Coconut Puttu, Palakkad Style! ;-)

Palakkadan Chiratta Puttu

Could not resist using this elaborate, over the top wording for this dish! It happily contains the emphathetic sounds from Mallu speak!The rice powder is courtsey moi MIL and the Chiratta = Coconut Shell, courtsey moi grandmother....

It is made from Single Boiled, Matta Rice. Rice is soaked for a few hours, drained, dried completely in shade, then powdered according to the desired consistency. This powder is then lightly dry roasted. The coarse texture of the rice powder makes it perfect for this dish but is also made into Nool Puttu = Rice noodles: seiving it and taking the finer powder these noodles are slightly thicker in diameter but with a reddish colour unlike the Nool Puttu/ Sevai made from polished/raw rice.
I have used natural coconut shell here; one can also get steel versions in Kerala markets.  Other Puttu recipes: An example of the steel version of the coconut shell can be found here

The measurements here would serve 4.
Ingredients for Puttu
1 Cup Palakkadan Single Boiled Matta Rice powder, roasted ground
3/4 Cup Water
1/2 Cup grated coconut for mixing with the rice powder
1 cup of grated coconut for layering in between [ amount can be increased according to preference]
Ghee/Clarified butter [optional]

*Coconut shells with one 'bored'  eye! :-)

* Pressure Cooker or a vessel with a mouth wide/narrow enough for the shell to rest snugly. If it does not and 'just makes it', foil can be used to wrap around and make it more steam-escape-proof!

* A perforated cookie press disk/ puttu/sevanazhi-disk with holes in it, to lay on the bottom of the coconut shell. [yes the plateau on the puttu!]

*A clean linen or cotton towel,  to wrap over the coconut shell; others put on a light steel lid loosely over the coconut shell.

Bring water to boil in the appropriate vessel
Keep the grated coconut ready
Put the rice powder in a large bowl
Add Salt
Sprinkle warm water, adding a little at a time,
Wet the rice powder evenly, so that it resembles a coarse meal texture; it should not be mushy or overtly sticky
Cover and keep aside.
Lay the sevanazhi  disc on the bottom of the coconut shell,
Layer with grated coconut  and a layer of moistened rice powder,
Continue with the layers till the top,
Tie the cotton towel loosely on top of the coconut shell.
Steam until done.
Served here with Potato Ishtu/Stew.

Notes: It is always weird and funny trying to translate the colloquial words and instructions into english when one receives instructions in the vernacular...Almost always the technique gets importance than the exact measurement, which comes later! This is then always amended with that particular chef's experience, hard won expertise emergency measures and tips and tricks.


  1. Never had a chance to taste Puttu. Your looks perfect, spongy.Nice shots

  2. Wow! this has taken me to Kerala in an instant. I make chiratta puttu using fresh coconut shells like you have mentioned. I don't think steel ones are a substitute if one wants to enjoy the natural flavour of the puttu. The pictures are really attractive.

  3. puttu is one of my fav but long since i had this one,i cant try it out also as i dont have a mould here...looks delicious and lovely combo too..

  4. this dish looks so interesting and yummy!

  5. Tasty combo, love the coconut shell server! :)

  6. Thankyou!
    Sarah, it is our favourite too; standard weekend brunch!

  7. puttu looks absolutely perfect with that stew , everything beautifully presented as usual!!!!authentic and delicious post!!!

  8. Chiratta puttu is my fav..real tempting picture!

  9. I tried to make the puttu podi. I soaked the red rice for 4 hrs, dried & tried to powder it. My Preethi mixer didn't do any damage to the rice.
    Soaked the rice overnight again, it's drying now. Hopefully, I'll have better luck powdering it this evening.

    I used kuthari. Is that the problem? Can you please give some more details of making the puttu podi?


  10. Hi Anonymous,

    Asked around and I got this feedback:
    Kuthari-naadan ari needs to be soaked only for 2-3 hours. Dried in the shade, spread out on a cloth.
    Apparently it is difficult to powder it in the bigger Mixer-bowls. People have found it easier to do it in the smaller Mixer-bowl.
    A particular rice is preferred: Single-boiled Palakkadan Matta is favoured. Idly Rice and 'raw rice' is also used. Other 'boiled' rice varieties, apparently turn the end product hard.
    Ours is usually taken to the rice mill and powdered; we are beneficiaries of generous relatives during our visits to Kerala.:-)
    Hope it helps. Best.

  11. Thanks for your prompt research & reply. I'm not sure household mixers can handle kuthari. I tried both sizes of mixer jars. Soaking time varied between 2-3 hrs to overnight for both trials. Hardly much damage there.
    Pounding 1/2 cup of the batch that soaked overnight to rava consistency heat up the mixer quite a bit. I decided it wasn't wise to burn my mixer. Preethi mixie is a prized possession for us ex-pats.

    That said, I'll see if I can lay my hands on the single-boiled variety. I'm making the raw rice version today. I'll try the idli rice version sometime.

    Thanks for all your help! Really appreciate it.

  12. No problem! I asked some veterans who have taken different varieties of mixie and used it outside Kerala. Everyone mentioned the care and difficulty powdering the rice.
    Single -boiled Matta is available in Indian groceries in the US. Idly rice works well according to some folks.
    Raw rice is easiest: as soon as it is powdered, some lightly roast it, so that it does not have a smell and 'keeps'.
    Hope the next attempt works out!

  13. Made the raw rice version & it's a winner. I did roast it. The second batch is steaming. Steaming with fresh coconut sure smells like home, sigh!

    Shall resort to buying chemba puttu podi until I can lug some from back home.

    Thanks for all your help.

  14. Glad to know that things worked out!
    I do use a mix of Red-Chemba puttu podi and the regular matta ari powders but the raw rice version also works satisfactorily!


Thank you for your valuable feedback!