In this 4th post for the Winter Warmers Series, I wanted to share with you two recipes close to my heart. It’s actually the food that I crave when I return home after a long holiday or time away from home. You can’t beat the comfort that comes with this meal and the flavour and texture combination of these together are just divine!
So the first is for ‘Puttu’ or ‘Pittu’. This is a healthy but really delicious main dish made with steamed rice flour and is found very commonly in Sri Lanka and Kerala. It’s usually the centre of the meal around which sits various other accompanying dishes and the Puttu soaks up all the flavours from each and is filling too!
The second recipe is for ‘Kuzhambu’ or ‘Kulambu’. This is accompanying dish to the Puttu and is made with a tamarind gravy into which sits sauteed vegetables. My favourite type of Kuzhambu to go with Puttu is ‘Kathrikkai’ (Aubergine) Kuzhambu as the aubergine just melts in the mouth and this vegetable absorbs the tamarind and spices so well to give this amazing aroma….yummm!
So I hope you enjoy these recipes and do let me know if you try them out yourselves or eat them at a Sri Lankan restaurant near you 🙂
(serves about 2 – 4 people)
What you need:
- 2 cups steamed red rice flour
- 1 cup shredded/grated coconut (0r dessicated coconut soaked in 1/2 cup water)
- Salt to taste (about 1 tsp)
- Hot water – keep about 4 cups aside but you may need more or less depending on the consistency
How to make it:
1. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl and make into a loose dough (but you don’t have to knead it like bread). Then, flour your hands and then roll the dough between your fingers so the dough looks like large breadcrumbs.
I quite like this You Tube video showing a Puttu technique using your hands: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8JZC1vQikA
1. Put the ingredients into a food processor and pulse, adding the water a little at a time to get the same consistency.
If either method makes the dough too wet then you can just mix in a little rice flour.
2. Mix in the coconut and then place in a steamer. I usually cover the bottom of my steamer with a thin & damp cloth/muslin. The cloth must be big enough to then wrap up the Puttu mixture. You don’t need to tie the ends of the cloth, just place it over the mixture.
3. Steam until the Puttu is cooked fully, approximately 10 – 15 minutes (the aroma will be so nice and you will start to smell the fragrance of the coconut too!), and serve with a delicious curry like Kathrikkai Kuzhambu (see recipe below) or Soya Chunks & Beans curry.
If you have roasted moong dal flour, then you can add about a tablespoon of this with the red rice flour to give an even more aromatic Puttu 🙂
Kathrikkai Kuzhambu (Aubergine in a Tamarind Gravy)
Aubergine is called “Kathrikkai” in Tamil and is a great vegetable to use in this kind of tamarind gravy or “Kuzhambu” as we call it. It is a comforting dish served with hot steamed Pittu or Rice. Chickpeas are not traditionally added but I think they compliment the Aubergine and provides a good portion of protein. The Aubergine is also traditionally deep fried, which obviously tastes yummy, but not healthy. So roasting the aubergine is a great way of still keeping the flavour and texture without a great amount of oil. The only thing with roasting is that you need a little more time, but it will be worth it in the end, I promise you!
This dish tastes great the day after cooking it, as it gives the aubergine time to soak in all the flavours. This is one time when I think Srilankan curry powder is a must and I, personally, think it really doesn’t taste the same with other masala’s.
What you need:
3 medium aubergines (about 500-600g)
1 teaspoon Turmeric powder
1-2 teaspoons salt
Oil – enough to coat all the aubergine
For the curry:
1 cup of cooked chickpeas
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion , diced
2 – 3 cloves of garlic, finely sliced or chopped
2 sprigs curry leaves
2-3 green chilies, slit lengthways
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon Fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon tamarind paste (alternatively, the juice of a lemon sized tamarind soaked in water)
2 teaspoon Srilankan curry powder
2 teaspoon chilli powder (or more if you like it quite spicy)
200ml thick coconut milk
250 ml water
Salt to taste (approx 1 – 2 teaspoons)
How to make it:
1. Cut the Aubergine into strips of about 1 inch in width and about 3 inches in length. Be careful not to cut the aubergine smaller than this as they may burn. At this point you can place the aubergine in a microwaveable dish and heat in the microwave for about 3 minutes. This is so they won’t absorb too much oil in the oven.
2. Add the salt and enough oil so all the aubergine is coated well. Place in the oven at 220 degrees Celsius for about 30 minutes, turning them over half way through and adding a little more oil if they look too dry. You may need to adjust the timing of this according to your oven and you need to keep an eye on them so they don’t burn too much.
3. In a separate pan, heat 2 tablespoon of oil. Add mustard seeds and when it splutters add the green chillies, fenugreek seeds and curry leaves. Add the sliced garlic and sauté for about a minute. Then add the diced onions and cook for about 5 minutes until the onions are translucent and cooked through. They may turn brown at the sides but that’s ok – it adds to the taste!
4. Add the salt, curry powder, red chilli powder and mix well. Then add the tamarind paste and simmer for about 5 minutes. Now add the coconut milk and water. Cover and cook until it thickens. Add the pinch of asafoetida and the roasted aubergine, chickpeas and combine gently. At this stage, if you are not vegan, then a splash of double cream makes a really yummy, rich taste. 🙂
5. Cook for another 5 minutes and serve with hot Pittu or rice.