Puttu and Kadla Curry

Recipe for Puttu and Kadla Curry

Puttu is a popular breakfast from the southern state of Kerala in India. Just like Idli, this is also steamed. There is a special steaming vessel ( called Puttu Kutti) needed for making puttu, which gives puttu its characteristic cylindrical shape. Layers of ground rice and grated coconut are put into the cylindrical part of the steamer and steamed for about 15 minutes. The steaming ‘sets’ the puttu. It can then be easily pushed out of the cylinder.

The most common combination with puttu is Kadla Curry, a gravy dish made with black chickpeas. However, people also savour it with palm sugar, banana or meat-based gravies.

Before I start the recipe, let us understand Puttu Kutti – the special steamer used for making puttu.

What is Puttu Kutti, and how does it work?

Parts of a puttu steamer (Puttu Kutti):

Puttu Kutti is a special steamer used for making Puttu. It has two sections. The lower section holds the water, and the upper section holds the puttu.

The lower section is a flat-bottomed vessel. The upper section comprises three parts- a perforated plate, a cylindrical part and a lid. They look like this.

The cylindrical part sits on the flat-bottomed vessel.

Working of puttu steamer ( Puttu Kutti ):

Water is boiled in the lower section. In the cylindrical section, first, the perforated plate is inserted. Then the puttu mixture is filled. It is covered with a lid and placed on the lower part of the steamer( which contains water).

The water boils, and the steam rises. The steam passes through the perforated plate to the puttu and cooks it. Steam also gets released from the holes in the lid. The perforated plate also serves the purpose of holding the puttu mixture.

Now that we understand how the puttu steamer works, let us start with the recipe. I shall be breaking the recipe into two parts:

Part 1: Preparing Puttu

Part 2: Preparing Kadla Curry

Part 1 : Preparing Puttu

Ingredients needed for making Puttu:

  1. Puttu Powder: 1.5 cups
  2. Salt: 1 teaspoon
  3. Water: About 4 cups of lukewarm water for mixing with puttu powder and extra for steaming the puttu.
  4. Coconut: 1 big, grated

Method for making Puttu:

  1. Fill water to about 3/4th level of the puttu steamer and let the water come to a complete boil. While the water heats and comes to a boil, prepare the puttu mixture.

  2. In a big plate or a mixing bowl, put the puttu powder. Add salt and mix.

  3. Now pour in water, 1/2 cup at a time, into the puttu powder. Rub the powder between both hands to distribute the water evenly with the powder. Continue doing so till the mixture is moist. The mixture will almost double in volume.

  4. Grate the coconut and keep it separately.
  5. Take the cylindrical part of the puttu steamer. First, put the perforated plate. Then take 3-4 tablespoons of the puttu mixture into the cylinder, followed by 3-4 tablespoons of grated coconut. Continue alternating between the puttu mixture and grated coconut till the cylinder is filled.

  6. Cover with the lid and place it above the lower part of the puttu steamer in which the water is boiling.

    Puttu Steamer
  7. Steam the puttu for about 15 minutes on high heat.
  8. Once the puttu is cooked, remove the cylinder. Open the lid. Now push the perforated place with a long knife ( or a thin and long spatula) and transfer the steamed puttu onto a serving plate.


Part 2: Making Kadla Curry:

Ingredients needed to make Kadla Curry:

  1. Black Chickpeas: 1 cup, washed and soaked overnight.
  2. Salt: 1 tablespoon, or according to taste
  3. Coconut oil: 1 tablespoon
  4. Garlic: 3-4 cloves, chopped
  5. Onion: 1, medium-sized, chopped
  6. Tomato: 1, medium-sized, chopped
  7. Turmeric powder: 1 teaspoon
  8. Kashmiri Red chilli Powder: 1 1/2 teaspoons
  9. Thick coconut milk: 1/2 cup
  10. Water: to adjust the consistency
  11. Fresh coriander leaves: for Garnishing

Tempering Ingredients:

  1. Coconut oil: 1 teaspoon
  2. Cumin seeds: 1 teaspoon
  3. Curry leaves: 8-10
  4. Dry red chillies: 3-4
  5. Onion: 1, small, chopped ( if you have shallots, use them)

Method to make Kadla Curry:

  1. Cook the chickpeas with salt and water in a pressure cooker till the chickpeas are soft. To know whether the chickpeas are fully cooked, press one chickpea between your fingers. It should press easily.

    Black ChickpeasBlack ChickpeasBlack Chickpeas
  2. Heat oil in a pan. Fry garlic till it is golden brown.

    Kadla CurryKadla CurryKadla Curry
  3. Add onions and fry till they are golden brown.

    Kadla Curry
  4. Add tomatoes.

    Kadla Curry
  5. Add turmeric powder, red chilli powder and salt. Close the lid, reduce the heat and cook till the tomatoes become soft.

    Kadla CurryKadla Curry
  6. Now add the cooked chickpeas along with the water in which they were cooked. Bring it to a boil.

    Kadla Curry
  7. Add coconut milk. Taste and adjust the salt. Add water if needed.

    Kadla CurryKadla Curry
  8. For tempering, take a small pan. Heat oil and add the rest of the tempering ingredients. Fry till the onions become slightly brown.

    Kadla CurryKadla Curry
  9. Add to the cooked chickpeas. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve.

    Kadla Curry

Puttu and Kadla Curry are ready!

Some Additional Notes:

  1. Puttu powder comes in many varieties. The one I have used is made with brown rice. You can use white rice puttu powder too.

    Puttu Powder
  2. While preparing the puttu powder, always add water a little at a time and rub the mixture. Continue adding till the mixture is moist. Adding lukewarm water will make the puttu softer.
  3. To make the puttu even softer, add some grated coconut to the puttu powder and moisten it with lukewarm water. Then add one layer of putty-coconut mixture and one layer of only coconut in the cylinder. Alternate between these two till the cylinder is filled.
  4. In the recipe for Kadla Curry that I have shared, I have used coconut oil. If you don’t prefer it, use any other oil of your choice. Though not traditionally eaten with Punjabi style Chole ( chickpea gravy cooked in north Indian style), in my opinion, that combination works well too. Check out the recipe for chole here.
  5. Before putting the puttu cylinder for steaming, make sure that the water has come to a boil and is bubbling. If you put the cylinder on water that has not yet come to a boil, the puttu will turn out hard.

Check out other recipes from my kitchen here.

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