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Kerala Dishes

Puttum Kadalayum – A True Malayali Breakfast -Tradition! Tradition! Tradition!

It all started this way. Year after year, as a child, it was a familiar sight to see dearest Amma look up the Mathrubhumi (Malayalam) calendar. She marked the family’s birthdays as per the star/nakshathra in which we were born, since the nazhikas of each naalu – the number of times it appears each month – had to be considered. Thus our birthdays would vary every year and every single one was celebrated with both my parents being attentive to minute traditional details, the way it was done by my grandparents and their forefathers before them. So it was with great trepidation and uneasiness that I faced my children when they insisted that their date of birth was their real birthday and not their pirannaalu / star birthday. Growing up in the city, influenced by  peers, lifestyles and environment, I understood their doubts, but stood firm in my beliefs, pacifying them with a cake for their birthday. Children need  wings; they also need strong cultural roots to keep them grounded. In recent years, I was happy to see my daughter marking her family’s birth-stars on the calendar, and promising her son a cake for his birthday. Indeed, life has come full circle! A Keralite is truly spoilt for choices when it comes to heavenly breakfast options. No, I am not exaggerating when I say that. Whether it is the lacy Appam/ Hopper with stew, steaming Puttu with kadala curry, Idiappam/ string hoppers with coconut milk and sugar, the soft, fluffy Idli or crisp Dosa with sambar / chutney, they are all healthy, nutritionally balanced and tasty.  Kerala’s own  Puttu is usually accompanied by kadala curry, payaru, pappadam or ripe sweet yellow bananas.The truth is that it’s versatility is such that it can be eaten with almost any curry, vegetarian or non – vegetarian.

Until recently making puttu was an uphill task. Raw rice was soaked in water, drained, pounded, sieved and roasted to get rice powder. Now we get puttu rice powder from the nearest store.The puttu maker or puttu steamer has two parts  – the lower round puttu pot with a narrow neck and the upper cylindrical puttu – kutti. Earlier hollow cylindrical bamboo stems or coconut shells / chiratta were used for cooking puttu. Chiratta puttu maker is also available now. Alternately idli moulds can be used for making puttu.


Preparation Time – 45 min.                                        Cook Time – 10 min. each                                        Serves 3


  • 2 cups Puttu (Rice Flour)
  • 1/2 fresh grated Coconut
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 3/4 cup Water (approx.)


  1. Stir salt and sugar into the water.
  2. Take the rice flour  in a flat vessel or bowl. Sprinkle water little by little and mix thoroughly by rubbing  with your hands or a flat spoon, till it is soaked well, without lumps and resembles grains. Cover and keep aside for half an hour.
  3. If you wish, you may transfer the wet rice flour to a dry mixie after the resting period, and grind it for a second to uniformly distribute the moisture and to break lumps if any. This step is optional.


  1. Boil water in the puttu vessel.
  2. Layer loosely the puttu kutti with 2 tbsp  coconut. Top it with 4 tbsp  rice flour, alternate thus, with  2 tbsp of coconut followed by 4 tbsp  rice mixture and lastly grated coconut. One point to note is that  the first and the last layer has to be grated coconut to ensure the smooth passage of steam, failing which, the moisture and flour will cake together and block the perforated cover of the puttu kutti.
  3. Cover the puttu kutti and carefully set it upright on the puttu pot.
  4. In high heat, cook for 8 – 10 minutes after steam is seen rising from the upper end of the puttu kutti.
  5. Off the stove and very carefully, remove the kutti, and push the hot puttu out ( I use a rolling pin) onto a serving bowl or plate. Do the same with the rest of the prepared flour. Serve hot. Enjoy!


  • Instead of plain water, coconut water can be used to wet the flour.
  • Do not pack the puttu-kutti solidly by pressing down the ingredients.
  • Preparation of the puttu powder for breakfast, can be done the night before and refrigerated.

Quick Tip:  While grinding to make idli / dosa batter in the mixie,  the batter may get heated and it may not ferment or rise as it should. Adding small portions of cold water intermittently while and for grinding helps. Quick Snack: Cut medium-ripe plantains into round slices onto a micro safe bowl. Dissolve 1/2 tsp sugar in little water and sprinkle it on top of the cut pieces. Microwave for 2 minutes. Cool and serve. Plantains are highly nutritious.They are rich in carbohydrates, potassium and Vitamins A and C.

About Paddy

When I married and came to Bangalore, it was a real ‘Pensioners’ Paradise.’ The climate was as today’s generation would say – ‘Awesome’. It was cool and pleasant throughout the year. My parents cautioned me to keep warm and have given me the loveliest Kashmir shawls, which I treasure to this day. Since I could not distinguish between rice and dal, cooking was an uphill task. I had a cook from Kerala, but the cold weather did not suit her and in a month’s time, she went back. Looking back, I have come a long way now… Cooking for me has metamorphosed from a daily routine of making edible and nutritious food for my family to an exciting journey of creativity by experimenting with different flavors and ingredients. To me, food is not only for nourishment and sustenance. Its taste and flavors take us back to our good times too. Food is nostalgia and comfort. It brings home our culture. Food is a treat and nourishment for the soul too. I dedicate this blog to my parents, who instilled in me a strong sense of ethics and discipline, and whose affection, love and support gives me strength in this journey of life. I feel the need of today’s generation, who come away from their homes and crave for home cooked food. To you too, I dedicate this blog, where I will share the recipes that I have learnt and grown to love over the years.


9 thoughts on “Puttum Kadalayum – A True Malayali Breakfast -Tradition! Tradition! Tradition!


    Sent from my iPad

    Posted by Ravindranathan | August 26, 2012, 11:05 PM
  2. Hi paddy,

    This is for you and your sweet dishes

    Super Sweet Blogging Award

    Please pick this award from my blog http://cimplicityrockss.wordpress.com/awards-it-means-more-responsibility/

    Posted by cimplicityrockss | September 3, 2012, 1:26 PM
  3. /Hello,

    First time on your blog and I was wondering how to make the same thing in an idli mould? I love puttu that my friend from school used to bring, but we dont make it at home. can you tell me how i shd do this with the idli mould so I can try t and enjoy it. These days i am also seeing Puttu Flour in the stores. Shd i buy that or shd i buy the ready made rice flour? Will I get the original taste? The last time I had this was in school almost 15 years ago!!!


    Posted by Shoba | November 3, 2012, 2:45 AM
    • Thank you very much for visiting the blog Shobha. You can make Puttu in an idli mould as follows:
      1. Put 1 tsp of fresh grated coconut in the idli mould
      2. Add prepared puttu flour over it, upto 3/4th of the mould
      3. Sprinkle fresh coconut gratings over the flour
      4. Steam for 10 minutes

      I usually use readymade (Double Horse) Puttu flour, not rice flour, as puttu flour is more suitable. You’ll definitely get the original taste. Bon Appetit 🙂

      Posted by Paddy | November 5, 2012, 8:22 PM
  4. WOw, is there anythign more Kerala than puttu? Have you posted the kadala curry recipe too?

    Posted by Rajani | January 17, 2013, 7:17 PM

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