Cooked in a shallow,  9″ – 10″ wide earthenware pan known as a “wodu” or “odu”, oduputtu is made from an unfermented rice batter, seasoned with salt. Sometimes a little fenugreek seed is ground along with the rice. So far, so simple. What really makes it unique, however, is the seasoning that is applied to the pan. No oil is used, but before the batter is poured, the pan is rubbed with a lump of resin, known as “banda” (bun-dah). This is the hardened exudate of the Indian Copal tree, Vateria indica. It releases a delicate fragrance but very little smoke.The resin vaporizes quickly, leaving barely discernible traces on the crisp base of the oduputtu, which takes on a subtle, elusive, fragrance that may as well be in the scented air.


Rice pancakes with a fancy air about them.

  • 1 cup raw rice, soaked for 2 – 3 hours
  • 2 tbsp soft, cooked rice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • A small lump of  “banda”

Grind the soaked raw rice and the cooked rice together to a smooth batter and add the salt. Add water as needed to make a batter with a consistency a little thinner than single cream.

Heat the pan* on a low, steady flame until it is evenly heated. Keep the heat on medium-low. Grasp one side of the pan with a piece of cloth and rub the banda firmly onto the heated pan, working in a circular motion. Breathe in that delicate scent.

Quickly  pour in about 1/3 cup of  batter, tipping the pan as you pour to coat the inside, leaving a margin of a few inches around the edge. Wait until the surface bubbles disappear and the batter looks just set. Place a lid over the pan. Remove the lid after a couple of minutes.

When the edges start to turn golden brown and lift away from the pan, slide a knife around the edges and lift the oduputtu out.The puttu is cooked when the base is crisp and insides soft and white.


In my grandmother’s home , these were most often eaten  with butter and honey as a teatime snack, or, quite on the other end of things, with a sheep’s head curry, as part of a  more substantial meal.

Makes 8 – 10  pieces.



Rice noodle cakes

  • 2 cups fine thari, soaked for 1/2 hour, then drained
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly powdered cardamom
  • 1 tsp ghee



  • A large, deep, heavy bottomed  pan, preferably with handles
  • A sturdy wooden spoon
  • A nuuputtu wara or, if you have strong wrists, an idiappam or shavige press.
  • A sekala or any suitable steaming apparatus large enough to accommodate the dumplings
  • Small plates or squares of banana leaf to collect the noodles as they are pressed.
  • A spare pair of hands to help with the work.


Bring the water to a boil in the pan and add the salt, cardamom and ghee.

Add the soaked, drained thari and  cook for 10 – 15 minutes on medium-high, stirring constantly once it begins to thicken. The mixture is ready when it forms a lump of dough that comes away cleanly from the sides and bottom of the pan. It will also be really difficult to stir at this point. Remove from the heat, cover with a clean tea cloth to keep the steam in and set aside  for 10 minutes.

While you’re waiting for the dough to cool, begin heating water in your steamer. Line the inside with cheesecloth or layers of muslin large enough to fold over and cover the contents.

Have a bowl of warm water with a little ghee in it ready.When the dough is cool enough to handle, moisten your palms in the water, scoop small portions of dough out and press firmly into cylindrical forms, approximately four inches long and two inches wide. You can make these dumplings a little smaller or larger, depending on what size you plan to make your nuuputtus. They should however fit comfortably in the barrel of your press. Keep the bowl of water handy for the pressing process too.

The water in the steamer should be boiling by now. Arrange the dumplings inside, fold the cloth over to cover completely. Put the lid on and steam for approximately 30 minutes on medium heat. If you’re using a bamboo steamer, increase the cooking time by 10 minutes and do not overcrowd the baskets.

While the dough is steaming, prepare your press and a place to lay out the nuuputtus. Remove the steamer from the heat and open it to allow the steam out for a couple of minutes. You must work quickly, before the dough cools and hardens. Lightly moisten your fingers in the bowl of water, pick up a hot dumpling and begin the pressing out.

Assuming you’re doing the turning, have your helper ready to receive the noodles on small individual plates. Move the plate in a slow  spiral motion to allow the noodles to pile up in tidy, compact swirls. Transfer the puttus to a surface lined with a slightly dampened cloth (to prevent sticking and also drying out) and cover with a tea cloth until ready to serve.

Makes 12-14 nuuputtus.

Nuuputtu is perfect with a chicken curry


Mudi Chekke Barthad

Vindhya’s Mudi Chekké Barthad8_mudichekkebarthad

Dry fried tender unripe jackfruit  with brown chickpeas in a spicy coconut masala.


500 gms raw tender jackfruit

Clean and cut into small bite size pieces and cook in unsalted water until fork tender (a little added turmeric is optional)

1 cup brown chickpeas, soaked for a few hours in fresh water, then cooked until tender

Dry masala

  • Roast the following separately, then grind to a powder:
  • 4 red chillies
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp coriander Seeds
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 small piece of cinnamon or cassia

Grind the dry powdered masala along with the following ingredients and add 1 cup of water to make

Wet masala

  • 1/2 cup coconut
  • 1 inch piece of ginger
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tomatoes (or 2 tsps tamarind extract)
  • A few sprigs of fresh

For Seasoning

  • 4 cloves of garlic (crushed)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • 1 –2 tbsp of ghee
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder

Heat the ghee in a large pan, kadhai, or wok. When hot,add the mustard seeds,allow them to sputter, then add the cumin, garlic, curry leaves and turmeric. Fry on low for about a minute. Increase the heat to medium, then add the ground masala and cook it for about 7 to 8 minutes, add the cooked jackfruit and the chickpeas. Mix well and cook all for another ten minutes.

Maddu Puttu

The wet, dark months of the monsoon bring about a mysterious transformation in an otherwise quite unremarkable plant known locally as “maddu thoppu”, lit. medicine leaf (Justicia wynaadensis).28_madduputtu

This plant grows wild around Coorg, favouring moist, shady areas. During the month of the most intense monsoon rain*, mid-July to mid-August, a period known as “kakkada”, an extract is made from boiling the stems and leaves in plenty of fresh water. The extract has a peculiarly medicinal fragrance and the colour can range from shades of magenta, through to deep purple and, when at its strongest, indigo.

The extract is used to prepare various dishes like maddu kuul, which is simply rice cooked in the extract, maddu payasa, a sweet rice pudding, or maddu puttu, an unsweetened rice cake that can be eaten with ghee and honey, or a jaggery syrup. It may be an acquired taste, but maddu thoppu certainly has a loyal fan following!


Maddu puttu



An unsweetened rice cake with the texture of blancmange.

  • 1 cup raw rice, soaked for 12 hours
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 5 cups of maddu thoppu extract


  • Making Maddu Thoppu extract
  • •Pack a large, deep saucepan 3/4 full with maddu thoppu stems and and leaves. Cover with cold water and cook on a very gentle simmer for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Make sure the leaves are immersed at all times. Strain and reserve the deeply coloured liquid and discard the stems and leaves.

Drain the soaked rice and grind it to a very smooth paste with 1/2 cup of the maddu thoppu extract. Add the remaining liquid and salt and cook the mixture on gentle heat, as you would a custard.It should begin to thicken in 10-12 minutes (sooner if the extract is freshly made and still hot).

Stir constantly and do not allow lumps to form. When the mixture is very thick and no longer of pourable consistency, (another 5 minutes or so), spoon it very quickly into ungreased thalis or dhokla plates. Thump the plates on the countertop to level the mixture but do not smooth the surface as it disturbs the beautiful sheen.


No access to maddu thoppu?

Try the same recipe with beetroot juice! This is something I came up with in a fit of monsoon nostalgia, with maddu thoppu a very long way away. It’s pretty tasty and, besides, beets are good for you!

Grind 2/3 cup peeled, chopped beets per cup of juice you plan to use and top up the measure with water. Strain and reserve the pulp for beetroot halva or a thoran.

Proceed as for the maddu puttu recipe. I like to add a little sugar and ground cardamom to taste. Sugar present in the beets and any added sugar will affect the way it holds together, so it has a softer set.

Serve the “beetroot puttu” in scoops with thick coconut milk!