Steamed wheat-rice cake – Wheat puttu

Quite interesting name! For us it’s simply puttu made with roasted wheat or rice flour. But what I have for this post is about puttu made with wheat flour.

When roasted wheat flour blends with fresh grated coconut it only enhances the flavor and takes it to the next level. That makes wheat puttu ridiculously rich and deliciously aromatic breakfast item. In Kerala and some other parts of southern India, wheat puttu is very popular even if it doesn’t have any fancy tags on it.

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It has many variations based on the creativity, either you can opt for the sweet version or the non-sweet version of it. No matter what version you like, puttu is generously filling and gives a sense of satisfaction. The best combination for puttu I enjoy is with butter, hint of sugar and sliced banana which is appealing and elegant to entice anyone.

That being said, the taste purely depends on the texture and the consistency of the flour. Flour must be roasted without burning. Any hint of burned smell would spoil the entire deal. You can say the flour is at its right stage when it slides like dry sand. Feel free to also follow your instincts. Remember to lower the heat when the pan is really hot to the touch. And consistently stir and often check the bottom of the pan with a wooden spatula to make sure the flour is not browning. If you’re able to take care of these critical stages, you’re good to go!

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As you prepare the flour for the puttu, adding water cannot be so generous. Add little water at a time as you would do for the pie dough – sort of like coarse yet moist texture – more like bread crumbs. Too much water will make it soggy and too little water make it dry. You will find it really hard to steam it. In fact it stays the same and doesn’t hold up the shape in the puttu candle. So the ruse is when you’re done mixing the mixture , take a pinch of the mixture and press it between the thumb and the point finger. If it holds up the shape and stays the same and at the same time as you drop if it slide back into coarse texture the consistency is right.

I often opt for 3:1 ratio for the flour – 3 cups of wheat flour and 1 cup of rice flour. ¾ cup of grated coconut. Even frozen coconut works great!

Steamed wheat-rice cake - Wheat puttu

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

When roasted wheat flour blends with fresh grated coconut it only enhances the flavor and take it to the next level.That makes wheat puttu ridiculously rich and deliciously aromatic breakfast item. In Kerala and some other parts of southern India, wheat puttu is very popular even if it doesn't have any fancy tags on it.

Ingredients

wheat flour – 3 cups

rice flour – 1 cup

salt to taste – ¾ tsp

sugar – 1 tbsp or more if you prefer more sweet

Water 1 – 1 ¾ cup of grated coconut

Puttu candle

Directions

Combine the flours and roast well.

When it cools down, add salt and sugar.

Sprinkle half cup of water over the flour and blend well.

At first you’ll find it hard to incorporate the mixture. But don’t worry. Keep adding water – but, only little at a time and keep mixing with a fork and a butter knife. It does a fantastic job. Or you could pulverize in a food processor. And when it reaches the consistency, make sure by taking a pinch of the mixture and press it between the thumb and the point finger. If it holds up the shape and stays the same and at the same time as you drop if it slide back into coarse texture the consistency is right – sort of like coarse yet moist texture – more like bread crumbs. Keep it aside.

Boil water in the pot that comes with the puttu candle or if you have the pressure cooker version boil water in the pressure cooker. When the water reaches the 100֯c point fill the puttu candle with the mixture by adding grated coconut at the base then the mixture, adding coconut again between the mixture would enhance the taste and the aroma is amazing. Once done with filling place it on the pot or the cooker until you see the steam coming through. When the steam flows smoothly yet rigorously is the signal that the puttu is ready. Gently remove the candle and push it through with a skewer or any kind of thin clean long stem.

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Rice noodles – String hoppers

The delicious string, also known as idiyappam, is one of the culinary wonders and a widely popular breakfast or dinner item of Southern India. The interesting part I like about it is that these rice noodles can pair with anything from sweet to savory. And my favorite is always sugar and butter. My hubby’s favorite is as same as mine but with an extra addition of hard boiled egg. Other combos are mild egg curry, mutton or chicken stew etc..

Still I enjoy eating Kerala’s own delicious idiyappam here in my home away from home as well. These days it’s sort of easy to prepare since all the ingredients are readily available in the market. That wasn’t the story years ago. I remember my grandma’s tough task of soaking the rice to roasting the flour. Roasted rice flour smells so wonderful… And the result was so darn amazing!

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The crucial part is mixing the rice flour with hot water and maintaining the soft and smooth consistency. Any hint of raw flavor and the grainy consistency would spoil the whole deal. It happened with me a lot of times. We tend to use more cold water due to the unbearable heat and there won’t be any visible difference in the beginning as well. But when you start the process of squeezing out from the idiyappam press, the strings will break apart and end up a pile of broken thread.  

Deep fried rice balls – Kerala’s own unniyappam

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Dark golden brown cute fried cakes are Kerala’s own ubiquitous snacks since ages – sort of a specialty of God’s own land. It’s musical to the ear when you hear Keralites ask for unniyappam and chaaya, a combination every Keralite adores to indulge.

Interestingly these appams are considered to be the favorite of Lord Ganesha, one of the deities of Hindus. Devotees adore Him and worship Him wholeheartedly.

In Hindu religion Lord Ganesha is the Lord of all circumstances and the provider of proper guidance and wisdom that leads to success, joy and good fortune in life. There are many temples in India where Lord Ganesha is the prime deity  where the offerings are laddus and modak. But in Kerala, unniyappams are offered to Him as an act of piety.

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However, given such ubiquity, in Kerala, the shape of ping pong ball shaped appams or unniyappams are still in the main stream. The size and the texture of it are darn appealing to anyone. The whiff of delicious fragrance is not something you forget that easily. And makes it nostalgic to folks like me who spent a copious amount of their childhood in Kerala.

Legend says that the original recipe of unniyappam is still a secret. Although, with the help of just few hints of ingredients – like rice flour, jaggery, coconut, etc.- folks delightfully delivered a close  fit replica of it.

So far I’ve eaten quite a few variation from hard to soft unniyappams. Sometimes the hardness and the rubbery texture feel darn annoying. And the soft versions are irresistible. The alluring texture with caramelized crispy edges on the outside and gently yet evenly risen well cooked unniyappams are such a great treat.

To simplify the hardness of the whole unniyappam saga, adding a hint of wheat flour and adding fresh and mashed banana just before frying would do the ruse. It enhances the texture and the flavor splendidly. Since I didn’t have jaggery with me, I generously used thick molasses. I didn’t see much difference. Rather it tasted better 🙂

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Ingredients

1 ½ cups of rice
¾ cup of wheat flour
1 ½ cups of molasses (or more according to the taste)
1 + 1 banana
¼ cup of grated coconut, gently toasted
½ tsp salt (adjust to taste)
½ tsp baking soda

Rinse and soak rice for about three hours.

In a mixer, grind the rice first. Once the rice is sort of smooth as paste, add the rest of the ingredients – wheat flour, molasses and one banana. Grind everything well with very less water. Consistency of the batter should be sort of thicker – yet not very thick. Transfer it in another wide open mixing bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients except the banana – toasted coconut, salt and baking soda.

Allow the mixture to rest nicely. It needs time to bring out the real texture and flavor 🙂 That’s around 4-5 hours! The batter would be safe in the refrigerator for about a day.

Well, just before the frying process, mash the banana – the banana which we kept to be used in the end- and mix it in the batter. Mix everything nice and well one more time. Fry it in a pan specially made for unniyappams and enjoy.