Thambuttu  by Shalini Nanda

A mashed banana and roasted rice flour sweet associated with the harvest festival of “Puthari”.

Thambuttu is made with the mashed pulp of a local variety of banana known as mara balé. These bananas have a dense, creamy flesh with a subtle hint of tanginess that complements their sweetness.

To make thambuttu, you have to first make thambuttu podi – a flour made from roasted rice, spiced with fenugreek seed and cardamom.

Thambuttu Podi

  • 1 cup parboiled rice, washed and dried
  • 1/4 tsp fenugreek seed
  • Seeds from 2 pods of cardamom

On a griddle or heavy pan, gently roast the rice to an even, nutty brown. This may take 15 – 20 minutes or longer, but don’t rush it or you’ll end up with unevenly roasted rice.You can also do this quite easily in the oven, spreading the rice in a roasting pan and shaking the pan occasionally to move the rice around.

Sprinkle on a few drops of water every few minutes so that the rice doesn’t begin to scorch. In the last few minutes of roasting, add the fenugreek, taking care that the seeds don’t turn more than a couple of shades darker. Remove the contents of the pan to another container, stir in the cardamom seeds and allow to cool before grinding to a fine powder. Store in an airtight container.

Now to the thambuttu.


  • 6 Mara balé or 4 of the Cavendish kind
  • 5 tbsp of thambuttu podi
  • 2 tsp sugar or jaggery to taste
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground cardamom seeds
  • A pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp dry roasted brown (unhulled) sesame
  • 4 tbsp freshly grated coconut
  • Melted ghee

Mash the bananas, thambuttu podi, jaggery and cardamom together. The resulting mix should be smooth but firm enough to hold its shape. Add more podi or banana as necessary. Scoop individual portions onto small plates and make a depression in the centre of each portion. Sprinkle with toasted sesame and grated coconut, fill the depression with melted ghee before dishing up the thambuttu.

Makes 4 – 6 servings.

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