Puttu and Cherupayar curry

Yuvi told me this morning that he hates singing rhymes. I couldn’t help smiling. What do you say to that? I couldn’t justify why he should. Instead I told him if he didn’t get out of bed, I’d complain to his teacher. He kicked, squealed and made it clear he is doing it but he is against the whole school going thing.

I said “See, All these kids go to school. You should be cheerful going to school” and immediately felt shallow for saying that. I didn’t ever skip joyously to school. I am stumped by these moral dilemmas daily.

kerala puttu and cherupayar curry

Last weekend, Hasini asked me “Why are you eating dosai? Why aren’t you eating the Ven pongal?”

I: “I don’t like Pongal Hasini”

Hasini: “But everyone should eat what’s there for breakfast. Why are you eating something else?”

She was telling me what I tell her all the time. How do I explain to her my deep-rooted, absolute indifference to Ven pongal which happens to be one of her favourite? I can eat it but I just don’t like it. I wonder if she has thought the same about some of my favourites – “Pesarattu”, “Urundai Kuzhambu”?

I reasoned it is ok to not like something if you have tried it, if you have really tried to like it but you couldn’t, if it just wasn’t meant to be. Like Ven Pongal and me. It just isn’t meant to be.

kerala puttu and cherupayar curry

I reckoned that Hasini can’t know now if Pesarattu will become her favourite one day, if she’ll grow to love it or if she’ll opt out for a dosai instead. She’ll need to try some more, for the time being.

I am torn between Dosai and Puttu-cherupayar curry, between Pogo and Two and a half men, between Hamley’s and Lifestyle, between monster print shorts and linen shorts, between clogs and shoes, between loose hair and pigtails, between candies and chocolates, between “Dandanakka” on the car stereo and nothing.

When did they join the league? It is not just Jagan and me now. Hasini and Yuvi have arrived and are calling the shots.

Now we play “Dandanakka” on the car stereo and Jagan and I shout over it, we buy both the monster print shorts and the linen shorts, we watch Pogo and Two and a half men on each one’s personal TV.

But Puttu-Cherupayar curry had to happen. Hasini tried Puttu and cherupayar curry last week and wasn’t very impressed. But she’ll have to try again.

kerala puttu and cherupayar curry

Inspired by the Puttu and curry breakfasts during our recent vacation in Kerala, I made this Puttu and Cherupayar (green gram) curry last week. Egg curry would have been classic but I was out of eggs. So I made cherupayar curry instead. I used my little bamboo puttu steamer that I bought in Wayanad to make the puttu. It is pretty simple and quick too. Jagan and I enjoyed the puttu and curry combination.

The little details to remember when you’re making puttu – which I learned by doing them the wrong way first –

1. For the puttu mixture, add room temperature water in small increments to the flour and add only as much as necessary to moisten the flour till it resembles wet sand. If you grab a handful of the mixture and compress it with your fingers, it should make a dumpling but should fall apart immediately after.

2. While filling in the puttu steamer, it is important to not press down and compress too much as the resultant puttu will take longer to steam and the longer it steams, the harder and rubberier it gets.

3. The puttu is done, once steam escapes from the top of the steamer, when the top of the steamer is hot to touch – about 2-3 minutes or so. Place the puttu steamer on the steam source (I used a pressure cooker), only after the steam starts coming out nice and fast. This helps avoid over-cooking the puttu.

Prep time: 15 mins
Cooking time: about 3 mins for each puttu, 25 minutes for the curry
Serves: 4-5

Ingredients – Puttu

Puttu flour – 500 gm
Room temperature Water – as necessary
Salt – to taste
Grated coconut – from 1 whole coconut

Ingredients – Cherupayar curry

Whole Green gram/cherupayar/Pachai payar – 1-1/2 cups soaked overnight
Oil – 2 tsp
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves – 1 stem
Green chillies – 4 chopped fine
Onion – 1 medium chopped fine
Tomato – 1 medium chopped fine
Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
Red chilli powder – 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Masala powder – One clove + 1 inch piece cinnamon + ½ tsp fennel seeds/sombu ground to a powder


1.       For the curry, soak the green gram overnight. In the morning, rinse the green gram well and transfer to a pressure cooker. Pour in about 3 cups of water and pressure cook for 12-15 minutes. Switch off. When the pressure dies down, open the cooker, and mash the dal coarsely. Set aside.

2.       While the green gram cooks, heat up a kadai/wok and add oil to it. When the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds and let them crackle. Then add the curry leaves. Throw in the chopped onion and green chillies till the onions are translucent. Add the tomatoes and fry till they turn soft.

3.       Add in the spice powders – turmeric, red chilli, ground masala powder and salt and pour a cup of water. Mix well. Let the mixture come to a boil. Add the cooked and mashed green gram and mix well. Pour more water if it is too thick. Bring to a boil. Turn heat down to low, cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes. Stir in between at intervals. Switch off. Keep hot while making the puttu.

4.       Take the puttu flour in a large bowl. Pour water -1/4 cup at a time into the flour and mix with your hands. Stop adding water when the texture of the puttu mixture resembles wet sand. If you grab a handful and compress with your fingers it should make a dumpling but should fall apart soon after. This is the right consistency. Cover the bowl with a plate or wet towel.

5.       Pour 3-4 cups water into a steamer or pressure cooker and close it shut. Turn heat to high and wait for the steam to escape through the vent.

6.       Meanwhile fill the puttu steamer. I used a bamboo steamer. You can use the stainless one too. Place about 2 tsp of grated coconut as the bottom most layer of the puttu. Use the stick that comes with the steamer or a long handled spoon to gently pat it in an even layer at the bottom of the puttu vessel. Now fill in puttu flour mixture loosely up to almost the half the height of the puttu vessel. Again use a long handled spoon to gently even the layer. Don’t press down. Now place another 2-3 tsp of grated coconut and pat down gently. Fill again with puttu flour mixture to about 2 inches below the top edge of the puttu maker. Top with 2 tsp of grated coconut. Done. You have 3 very thin layers of grated coconut and 2 tall layers of puttu starting and ending with grated coconut.

7.        When the steam starts coming out of the vent, place the steamer over the vent. Your steamer should have a provision at the bottom – a hole at the base that fits snugly onto the cooker vent. Place a small plate to cove the top of the puttu vessel if you are using a bamboo one like me that doesn’t have a lid.

8.       In about 2-3 minutes, the steam should have made its way to the top of the puttu, cooking the puttu in the process. The top of the puttu vessel should be hot to the touch. Remove the puttu vessel and let cool slightly. Then use the long stick that comes with the puttu vessel to push the puttu (through the hole at the bottom) on to a plate or banana leaf. Serve hot with Cherupayar curry or egg curry. Enjoy!

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One comment

  1. Hamida H says:

    Hi Jayanthi,

    XOXOXO for the awesome ‘Vengaya Vathal’. Couldn’t help falling gobsmacked for south Indian flavors ( )… got to know the perks of onions that lured us with its zesty scent ♥

    “Puttu could be a fancy”, but how did we miss such a wicked ‘Puttu & cherupayar curry” flaunting the flavors of green chilies? It came out well 😉

    Yes, we would love to feature your culinary skills on our global platform.

    This is an exclusive space for your penmanship, where you can publish your unique culinary outputs in the form of brief food blogs.

    That too you’re the one, who’s going to own this space! We would like to pass it on to others by featuring it on our global platform!


    Sulekha.US would be glad to present your food blog to the Indian communities living abroad. We would love to connect them through one of the most vital channels i.e. food.

    It’s all yours and you’re going to own an exclusive food blog with Sulekha to share your recipes along with their back links.

    We would promote it across our wall and social media.

    Featuring your recipes on our home page would be a perk for our eager Indians, who are waiting for Desi recipes and baked goodies ranging from ‘grand’ to ‘on the go’.

    Sharing your passion for cooking might rejuvenate the taste buds and senses of millions of Indians living abroad. We’re awaiting your valuable reply.

    Bon Appetite!


    Thanks & regards,
    Hamida, Content Manager, Sulekha US

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