By Shalini Nanda

Broken rice cakes cooked with milk and coconut.

  • 2 cups thari
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups grated coconut (fresh please!)
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tbsp cardamom seeds
  • 1 1/2 tbsp sugar or to taste
  • Salt to taste


  • You will need small thalis with raised rims, or dhokla plates. Do try and find some plates with reasonable depth – paputtu is best in thick  slices.
  • A sekala, idli steamer or a pressure cooker wide enough to accommodate the plates you are using. If using the latter, steam without the weight on.
  • A bamboo steamer will work too, but you may need to increase the cooking time by 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Flat wooden sticks to separate the plates when stacking in the sekala. Improvise with anything that provides a stable base for the plates to rest on and that doesn’t restrict the flow of steam.

Wash the thari and soak for 1/2 an hour in the 2 cups of water.  Add the grated coconut, milk, cardamom, sugar and salt and mix well, squeezing the coconut to extract a little milk.  Divide equally between plates and steam for 25-30 minutes or until done. The puttu should look firm, with no soggy bits in the centre. Cover the plates with a clean tea cloth and allow the puttu to cool a little before cutting into pieces.

Best eaten with a simple mutton or chicken curry. Or, make a sweet breakfast of it with fresh butter and honey.

This recipe makes three plates of paputtu. The plates I use hold  500ml each. Do not fill the plates more than two-thirds full to allow room for the thari to expand.


  • Increase the sugar to taste for a sweeter cake that can be eaten on its own, or with a little ghee or melted butter.
  • Replace the milk with light coconut milk for more coconut flavour.This version is good with a spicier curry.
  • Powdered coconut milk works nicely if fresh is unavailable.

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