My family eats this variation on the classic south Indian rice puttu pretty much every morning, topped with banana slices and a bit of jaggery or brown sugar, or sometimes as a savory late-night snack with a leftover black chickpea curry. Our twist is to use Canadian oats in lieu of rice flour. Fresh grated coconut will make a big difference to the flavor and texture. Every Kerala kitchen has a puttu maker—a steamer attached to a cylindrical metal tube, which makes puttu’s traditional log shape—but the recipe can easily be made without one. See below for instructions. If using a puttu maker, this recipe will fill the cylinder twice.
- Large Flake Oats (not instant) 2 1/2 cups
- Salt 1/4 tsp
- Fresh Grated Coconut 1 cup, divided
- Combine oats and salt in a bowl. Slowly sprinkle in about 3/4 cup water, mixing it in with your fingertips, until the mixture begins to form a clump when you squeeze it in the palm of your hand, then un-clumps when you release the squeeze. (The amount of water required will vary depending on the quality and cut of the oats.) Set aside to soften for 10 minutes.
- Transfer oats to a food processor and pulse two or three times, just to break down the oats to a coarse meal. Transfer to a bowl, then stir in half the coconut, reserving the other half in a separate bowl. For the first puttu, you will use about half of each component.
- Using a puttu maker, add the thin metal perforated disk to the bottom of the cylindrical tube (called a puttu kutty). Then fill the tube with alternating layers of grated coconut and the oats-coconut mixture, beginning with a thin layer of coconut, then a thicker layer of the oats-coconut mixture, a thin layer of coconut, a thicker layer of oats-coconut mixture, and finishing with a final layer of coconut.
- Fill the steamer a quarter full with water. Attach puttu kutty and its perforated lid and set the puttu maker over high heat. Once water is boiling, reduce heat to medium and cook for about 5 minutes more, or until steam rises from the holes in the top, indicating the puttu is cooked. Using a towel or oven mitts to protect your hands, push the steaming oats puttu out of its cylinder using the puttu ‘stick’ (or the handle of a wooden spoon). Repeat with remaining coconut and oats-coconut mixture to make a second puttu. This will take less time as the water is already steaming hot.
- Serve oats puttu sweet, topped with banana slices and your preferred sweetener, or savory with a curry.
No puttu maker? No problem!
Simply combine all of the soaked oats with all the grated coconut and use a steamer with a lid or a double boiler with a perforated steamer insert to cook the mixture for about 10–12 minutes. When the puttu is light and fluffy, it is cooked.
Excerpted from My Thali: A Simple Indian Kitchen by Joe Thottungal with Anne DesBrisay. Photography by Christian Lalonde. Copyright © 2023 by Thali Restaurant. Excerpted with permission from Figure 1 Publishing. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.