Puttu and kadala

I promised that I’d be trying to recreate some of the dishes we ate on holiday in South India and this was my first attempt. Puttu and kadala was one of my favourite Keralan breakfast dishes and I’ve never seen it anywhere in this country so it was the first thing I wanted to try. Puttu is a tube shaped crumbly mixture of rice flour and coconut which is a marriage made in heaven with kadala – a black chickpea curry.

I did some research when I got back and though it was quite easy to find a kadala recipe, there are loads of different puttu recipes floating round and most of them involve a puttu maker, which I don’t have. Some blogs give alternate methods but all of them seemed to involve a pressure cooker, which I also don’t have. I decided to sort of make it up as I went along, which turned out not to be my best move. When I went into my local Keralan shop to buy the ingredients for this dish, the man on the till tried to point me in the direction of frozen ready made puttu, and I almost wish I’d followed his instructions! There’s no point in even telling you the proportions of puttu flour, water, salt and coconut because I didn’t manage to get anything approaching the soft, flaky, delicious tubes of  puttu we ate on holiday. I tried to follow the standard recipes but I put the mix in cheesecloth and rolled it into tubes and steamed them to try and get the right shape. My puttu was just about edible but I’ll be doing a lot more research before I try it again, that’s for sure.

The kadala was delicious though, so I’m more than happy to pass on what I did for that one – serve it with Indian bread, rice – or ready made frozen puttu!

Kadala curry (serves 4)

1 cup black chickpeas, soaked overnight and cooked (you could use normal chickpeas but it won’t taste or look quite the same)
4 tbsps grated coconut (I used frozen)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1/2 onion, sliced
1 green chilli, finely chopped
Sprig curry leaves
1 tsp chilli powder
2 tsp coriander
1/2  tsp turmeric
2 chopped tomatoes
Salt

Blend the coconut and cumin seeds together (I used my mini chopper).
Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the mustard seeds and cook until they start to pop. Add the onion, green chilli and curry leaves. Fry for a minute. Add the other spices and fry, before adding the tomatoes and salt. Cook until the tomatoes are softened and add the cooked chickpeas along with about 4 tbsps of their cooking water. Cook for a few minutes, then add the coconut-cumin paste. Stir together and cook, covered for about 5 minutes. You can let it sit around for a bit while you try to peel puttu away from the cheesecloth – or wait for the microwave to ping!