March 25, 2018

Chemmeen Puttu | Prawns Steamed Rice Cake

Sundays are not a very happy day to wake up to, being the start of the week in Dubai - yet today morning I woke up refreshed and happy. Dubai has been my home for more than three years. I have got used to living here by now. Yet after packing off Shibin to office ( yeah, I mean it)  as I sat down with a cup of coffee, I felt the urge to wake up to the chatter of birds amidst luscious green trees and not to forget the occasional patter of rain drops during the monsoons. These imageries manifests my childhood!

I was brought up in a village named Chanthar, 4kms from the small town of Brahmavar to the north of the temple town of Udupi. My parents moved to this place post their marriage and has since been our home. Technology and trends were slow to reach this place but education never was! Even today this place sees a plethora of educational institutions. During the late 80s and early 90s, a large part of this area was under forest cover. Things began to change with the Konkan railways tracing their path through the remote area. Yet, a majority of places seemed unaffected. Truth be said - monkeys, rabbits, peacocks, fox, wild hens, a variety of birds made these forests their home.Stray cats and dogs were in plenty too. So were Snakes! I refrained from mentioning snakes along with the other animals because it gives me creeps and nightmares which I wake up to and fear moving any part of my body for the fear of touching a snake lurking around in the dark. 

Flora and fauna thrived in plenty. ( has changed a lot over the last 10 years I have to admit) Waking up to the chattering of birds or the rain drops falling on the roof tops slowly gliding towards the drains and making its final landing on the ground made our day. Wading through ankle high rain water to school was normal rainy season to us. Sitting in the patio as a family watching the winds sway the trees was a monsoon Saturday afternoon hobby. Bathing in the rain water was a pastime we looked forward to provided there were no thunder and lightning. Climbing the mango tree and the rose apple tree to pluck the fruits were our summer hobbies! Staying away from the hairy caterpillar was our winter agenda! It's sad that due to the unscrupulous ways of man, our next generation may never ever get to enjoy the God created amazing world, just the creation of man that were made destroying that of God. Yet they say, Nature has its way! 

I did not mean to mull over on the above subject this long but it just came by!
On to the recipe, puttu is indigenous to Kerala! Malayalees, I am sure will put up a fight for that:) Traditionally made by steaming rice flour with coconut and served with banana or kadala curry, today the dish has found many re-invented forms and combinations! About a year back I tried mixing some leftover puttu with left over prawns roast, the results of which were magnificent. Since then, I have been wanting to try a prawns topping with coconut in it to complement the puttu well! Puttu with no coconut is not puttu for me:)

Moving onto the recipe of Chemmeen Puttu -

Prawns Steamed Rice Cake


To Marinate – 
  1. Prawns – 750 gms (small size)
  2. Red chilli powder – 1 tsp
  3. Kashmiri chilli powder – 1 tbsp
  4. Pepper powder – ½ tsp
  5. Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
  6. Fennel powder – 1 tsp

For the masala - 
  1. Onions – 3 finely chopped
  2. Ginger – 1 tbsp finely chopped
  3. Garlic – 1 tbsp finely chopped
  4. Coconut – ½ cup grated packed
  5. Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
  6. Curry Leaves – 2 sprigs
  7. Coconut oil – 2 tbsp

For Puttu - 
  1. Puttu podi/ Rice Flour – 2 cups
  2. Water – 1 to 2 cups
  3. Salt to taste

  • Take the rice flour in a bowl and add salt. Sprinkle water over the flour as needed and begin mixing using your fingertips.
  • To check, take a handful of the flour mix and press it in your palms. First it should form a lump and on further prodding the lump should crumble.
  • Once the flour mix is done, press it down in the bowl and keep it aside covered.
  • Clean and de-vein the prawns. Use small size prawns. If the prawns are of bigger size, slice them into smaller pieces.
  • Marinate the prawns with the ingredients listed under marination and set aside for 20 minutes.
  • Dry grind the coconut and cumin seeds, set aside.
  • Heat coconut oil in a pan, add onions and saute until it wilts. Add curry leaves, ginger, garlic and saute until cooked.
  • Add marinated prawns to this, adjust salt and cook it covered for 5 minutes.
  • Add the coconut mix and cook for a while until the prawns are completely done.
  • Heat water for steaming the puttu. Layer the masala first in the puttu kutti and then add puttu podi. Steam the puttu for 5 minutes or till steam escapes from the top. ( done wither on top of pressure cooker or puttu kodam.
  • Serve it hot.

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