Sunday, December 26, 2010

Savoury Pittu

Steamed Pittu
One rainy summer morning, my sister’s husband Chandra, decided to make ‘pittu’ – traditionally a breakfast dish made of rice flour and grated coconut steamed in the shape of a roll. Only Chandra followed a home recipe from his village in Matara – a signature dish for temple feasts, adapted for Melbourne with supermarket ingredients. And instead of breakfast, we had it for lunch, as well as dinner. (Yes, it was that good!).

What he used:
* 1¼ kg plain white flour
* Half a medium onion
* 1 sprig curry leaves
* 2 green chillies finely chopped (or a few teaspoons of dried red chilli)
* ½ tsp curry powder (raw curry powder for Sri Lankan readers)
 * A small piece – 1 inch – of rampe (aka pandan leaf), shredded
* Salt to taste
* 125g desiccated coconut – rehydrated with a few tablespoons of water
* 100ml water

What he did:
'Crumb-like' flour mixture
He mixed all the ingredients together with approximately "100ml of water" or just enough to make the flour mixture resemble coarse breadcrumbs. Now comes the complicated bit:  the flour mixture was lightly pressed into a pittu bambutraditionally, the ‘raw’ pittu was stuffed into a short piece of bamboo and then steamed, but the last time my mother came from Sri Lanka she brought an aluminium water pot and pittu pipe for us to use.
Water pot and metal pittu pipe
If you don’t have either of these things, you can use a plain aluminium steamer over a saucepan of boiling water.  Dump the flour into steamer pot, making a few ‘holes’ or spaces in the flour to let the steam through. Steam the flour mixture for 15-20 minutes.
Then unmould (if you've used a mould) and cut into serving-sized pieces. Usually this is eaten with plain coconut milk as a gravy and spicy sambols. Chandra made a potato curry to go with this.

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