Puttu (Photo by Premshree Pillai/flickr)
Puttu (Photo by Premshree Pillai/flickr)
Puttu (or Pittu) is steamed in narrow cylindrical molds with a loose, perforated base. These are sold in shops specialising in Indian and Sri Lankan ingredients. Improvise by using a narrow tin about 12 cm (5 in) long and 6 cm (2 1/4 in) wide, with a press-on lid. A Dutch cocoa can is the perfect size and shape. Cut away base of can and invert so the lid is now the base. Drill small holes in the lid so steam can penetrate. After steaming, remove lid and push the steamed rice cake through the wider opening.


150 g/5 oz/3/4 cup roasted rice flour
150 g/5 oz/2 cups fresh grated coconut
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
about 3 tablespoons cold water


In a large bowl combine rice flour, grated coconut and salt. Add a few drops of water at a time and lightly mix the flour and coconut together until moistened, but under no circumstances should the mixture be wet or lumpy. Lightly fill cylinders, not compacting the mixture. Place on a trivet in a deep pan, cover and steam over boiling water for 15 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then unmould onto a plate and cut each cylinder in 2 or 3 pieces.

Serve puttu with coconut milk and a hot sambal or curry. Tripe Curry is a traditional accompaniment. If preferred, serve pittu with coconut milk and sugar or jaggery.

Note: Millet flour, sold as kurakkan flour, may be substituted for half the rice flour.

Recipe excerpted from Encyclopedia of Asian Food by Charmaine Solomon (Periplus Editions, 1998)