May 8, 2009

Steamed rice cakes and Black chickpeas curry (Puttum Kadalayum)

Hey everyone, how are you all doing? I finally started my work at the University this week - on Tuesday! Its become really hectic at home nowadays since I take the bus and have to leave home at 6.50 am. The evenings are just as hard because poor lil LM also gets home after almost 9 hours at school and is really tired after all the running around! I am planning on taking the Fridays off and finally my first weekend is here today!! :-) Its a lot of work at the research lab with a lot of standing and walking around! But I should say that it feels good to be back in a lab after a gap of 3 years. Because of the new experience, I couldnt plan well on my posts last week, but I hope to post regularly from next week onwards!

This recipe for the Black chickpea curry is from my mother-in-law who visited us last year. I had taken these pictures then and was saved as a draft for so long!! Puttu (steamed rice cakes) and kadala (black chickpea curry) is an outstanding breakfast combo in Kerala, India. Eventhough it is more popular as a breakfast item, you can get these anytime you fancy, from one of the roadside stalls or restaurants. Puttu is a simple blend of rice flour, salt and water which is then steamed in cigar shaped or bowl shaped molds. You can also use a regular steamer in which case the puttu will not be in any molded shape. I didnt like it as much when growing up, but after moving to the US and not getting to eat these made it a delicacy for us!!

Puttu can also be eaten with sugar or ripe bananas (for sweet versions) or also with whole moong dal curry (cherupayar curry). Since coconut is abundant there, Keralites typically tend to use a lot of coconut in their cooking - puttu can be made by either mixing grated coconut with the flour or just lining the steamer with grated coconut.

I made these steamed rice cakes in a small steel "chiratta" vessel which is shaped like a coconut shell and can be steamed on the steam outlet of a pressure cooker. So its called chiratta puttu. In addition to imparting the cute shape to the puttu, the "chiratta puttu" vessel also makes it easier to steam the individual portions of puttu in less than a couple of minutes. Read more about puttu at wiki. I usually use the puttu flour available in Indian stores (Double Horse brand), for making these. It is basically plain rice flour, but the ones for puttu is more coarsely ground than the fine rice flour available in general grocery stores. If using fine rice flour, it might help to dry-roast the flour in a skillet, wetting the flour with water and then steaming the puttu.

Black chickpeas takes a long time to cook, so do soak it overnight in water. Using a pressure cooker makes it easier to cook after soaking, even then it takes about 20 minutes. If using a saucepan to took, be advised that it will take longer. Chickpeas curry can be had along with many other traditional Kerala breakfast or even with rice. The coconut milk in the curry makes it an all time delicious and sought after traditional Kerala curry.

I hope these descriptions are enough for those who are not familiar with these dishes. Trust me, its a very delicious combo, especially the black chickpea curry with coconut milk. The recipe follows. So try these out and let me know how it turned out. I would be happy to answer any more questions that you might have. Enjoy!!

Black Chickpea Curry

Recipe :

Dried black chickpeas - 1 1/2 cups
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Garlic - 3 cloves, sliced lengthwise
Onion - 1 small, sliced
Curry leaves - a handful (if using)
Coriander powder - 1 tsp
Chili powder - 1/2 tsp
Garam masala - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Pepper powder - 1/4 tsp
Canned thick coconut milk - 1/2 cup


Soak the chickpeas overnight in water.

Pressure cook the chickpeas in enough water for a whistle.

Reduce the flame and cook for about 15-20 minutes.

In a pan, pop the mustard seeds in oil.

Add the sliced onions, garlic and curry leaves and saute.

Once the onions are soft and sauteed well, add the spice powders.

Saute until the spices are well cooked.

Add the cooked chickpeas with any remaining water to the pan.

Season with salt and bring to a boil.

Boil the curry until it is of the desired consistency.

Just before removing from heat, pour the thick coconut milk and mix well.

Serve hot with puttu!!

Steamed rice cakes / Puttu :

Take the desired amount of rice flour and add salt to it. Then add warm water, a little at a time until the flour is just wet. Break up the lumps with your finger tips and palms, until soft and powdery, and just wet. The puttu flour is now ready to be steamed.

One way to make sure that the flour has been adequately wet is to hold a handful of flour and press lightly to shape. If the flour holds the shape and then breaks up easily when pressed, the flour is ready!

For the chiratta puttu:

Boil a cup of water in a pressure cooker. Cover with the lid and allow the steam to escape through the outlet on top. Line the steel puttu mold with a bit of grated coconut. Fill the mold loosely with wet puttu flour. Cover with the mold lid. Keep the mold on top of the steam outlet. The puttu is done when steam comes out of the top of the puttu mold. Srve hot and enjoy with hot chickpea curry!!

Hope you enjoyed reading the post. Have a great weekend!!


Kalyani said...

Amazing pictures & in a very tempting way ..... will try this .....

Happy cook said...

I love that pot, and i love this chickpea curry i am going to bookmark it to make with chapaties, as puttu hubby and daughter don't like and also I don't know to make them, never made puttu, i know bad mallu :-)

Parita said...

Lovely chick peas curry and rice cakes...the pic looks mouth watering :)

meeso said...

Being so busy is very bitter-sweet... This looks so good, I am very hungry now after seeing this post!

Sonu said...

Your presentation is always creative. Love the pot too.

Swapna said...

As always lovely pictures of puttu and kadala JZ!!!! Hey there is an award waiting for you in my blog...please accept....