It’s Thaipusam Cavadee today and I am very happy to be among the lucky ones to enjoy the lazy morning of a public holiday. I was not feeling that lazy afterall as I got up early enough for some festive cooking.
As for every festival I try to go for traditional dishes with a sincere attempt to make them from scratch. South Indian cuisine has rice and coconut as its basic ingredients; these are consistently present in main courses, desserts and breakfast, and possibly in items you would not expect them to be.
I had planned ahead to make poutou and ounde for breakfast today so I already had my main ingredient ready. Both recipes call for ground rice which can be prepared on the eve as follows:
- Soak rice in enough water to cover it completely for at least 4 hours. Drain water and spread rice over a large cloth.
- Leave out to dry until most of the moisture has evaporated.
- Grind rice to a fine powder on your roche carri if you have one or in a heavy duty grinder in small batches.
- Sift a couple of times to remove larger particles.
If you are lazier than me 🙂 you can always get packaged ground rice from the shops. I cheated a bit for the poutou recipe as I used microwaving instead of the authentic steaming method. You can also give this quick and easy microwave version from Madeleine’s blog a shot in case you do not own a poutou mould nor do you have immediate plans of purchasing one.
The original puto is a steamed rice cake from the Phillipines and not at all from South India as I had always been lead to believe. It typically has a spongy and fluffy texture but the recipe below yields a slightly dry product as microwaving causes most of the moisture in the batter to evaporate. The taste however is very much comparable to poutous sold by our local street vendors.
POUTOU – RICE CAKES
1 cup / 325 ml coconut powder
1 1/2 cups / 300 ml ground rice
3/4 cup / 200 ml self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup / 150 ml sugar
2 cups / 400 ml hot milk
3 tbs unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
- Grease a 8″ diameter microwave mould with butter.
- Melt butter in a medium pan and add to hot milk.
- I used coconut milk for a more intense coconut flavour.
- Add all the other ingredients and mix well with a spatula.
- Batter should have a wet pouring consistency.
- Pour batter into prepared mould. Do not cover.
- Cook on high in a microwave oven for 8-9 minutes.
- Use a 2″ circular cookie cutter to punch circles out of the cooked cake if you want the traditional poutou shape.
Our poutou seller never failed to turn up with ounde – another rice based sweet with a thin coating of coconut – along with his famous rice cakes. I would always secretly smile at the fact that the poutou guy would come shouting poutou chaud at the top of his voice, claiming that his cakes were piping hot when they had already turned cold after being carried around since morning.
OUNDE – COCONUT RICE BALLS
1 cup ground rice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
Vanilla extract or cardamom
- Roast ground rice over a low flame in a heavy based pan until it is evenly tanned as you would do for semolina.
- Add half of the dessicated coconut and roast for another minute. Remove from heat and cool slightly on a pot holder.
- Prepare syrup by dissolving sugar in 1 cup water. Bring to a rolling boil and add vanilla or cardamom to flavour.
- Carefully add hot syrup to ground rice. Stir continuously to avoid lumps, and return mixture to heat.
- Cook until mixture is no longer sticking to the pan.
- Make small balls out of this mixture and toss in a bowl of dessicated coconut until they are all evenly coated.
- Store in a clean dry container and consume on same day.