We are today @ Meghalaya, literally meaning abode of clouds(Megh=clouds, aalaya=abode/temple). People remember Cherrapunji more for it is credited as the most wettest place on Earth, with rain-fall all year around. Shillong, the capital of meghalaya is a well-known tourist location and is called the Scotland of the East India. Coming to their cuisines, they eat everything! yes, Fish, fowl, pork!! But cooking is simple like other NE states, less spice, less oil. Food is mostly prepared by boiling with herbs, steaming, cooking in open fire.
So, again looking for vegetarian recipes was a bit tough, until we know what they are called in the local dialect. yes, if you are familiar with the names, it is a bit easy to search for the recipe. The Khasi/jaintia cuisine, refered by their tribal name, revolves around few staple flavors like mustard oil, black/white sesame paste, fermented beans/fish. Where rest of the India finish their festive meal with rice as the main course, the people of Meghalaya favor rice for their everyday snack/breakfast/lunch and for each and every occasion , of-course with meat along.
Rice cakes are many and there is different type of paddy, planted for rice cakes. The common cakes are Pujer, Pu-syep,Pu-tharo, Pu-maloi, pu-nei, pu-khlein, pu-niang, pu-saw, pu-nianghali. For all these preparatios, rice has to be first soaked, dried and pounded.
Pu-jer is fine powdered rice eaten at special ceremonies like marriage, naming,etc.
Pu-tharo - Rice is first modelled in an earthen dish called sarrow and then baked.
Pu-saw - is similar to putharo, except a little baking soda is added to the dish.
Pu-doh - is like a hard pork patty
pu-maloi is similar to our south-indian idly
Pu-nei is a khasi namki, a deep fried snack with some local herbs/spices called jhiras added.
Pu-khlein is a deep fried snack, made of rice flour and jaggery and fried in Lard/Pig fat. These are local delicacies which can be found on the streets, wrapped in banana leaf sold as breakfast by the kongs(ladies).
Pu-nianghali is like a salted biscuit
Pu-tyndong is rice packed in a bamboo stick and baked in a open fire.
Today i m bringing you a simple rice snack, Putharo, similar to our rice puttu, yes, a simple rice puttu. When i made them and tasted, i was 100% sure, that i got it right. How, you might ask,i read an article in Outlook india's about Khasi Cuisine, where the author Janice pariat, travelled the interior of meghalaya to taste their rice delicacies. According to her, the cake sticks to the roof of your mouth and she dislodges it with her tongue, voila, it happened to us too while eating this simple rice cake. Traditionally putharo, is served with Doh-nei-iong (pork with black sesame seeds) or Doh-jem (again pork with softer intestines) or tyrungbai (fermented soya bean paste) but, they taste good as such, when served warm.;)
1/2 Cup Rice flour (If available, red rice flour is preferred)
2 tbsp Powdered jaggery
2 tbsp freshly grated coconut
a pinch of salt and few sprinkles of water
- I used store-bough rice flour,so i dry roasted the flour for 2 minutes, until it was hot to touch. Let it cool and then proceed to make the putharo's.
- If using home-made rice flour, then skip the above step.
- Take the rice flour in a flat plate, add salt and sprinkle warm water 2-3 times and start mixing the rice. you should be able to hold the flour in your fist and when pressed, it should hold shape and when crumbled it should crumble well. Add jaggery and fresh coconut, mix well.
- Take two small bowls/silicon moulds or a flat earthen ware will also do good. I used two steel katori's/bowl, grease the bowls, fill the bowls with the rice flour mixture. I filled till half their capacity.
- Cover the bowls with a piece of parchment paper, to avoid water dripping into the bowl while steaming. Steam cook for 10-12 minutes.
- Remove from the steamer, let it cool for 2 minutes, the carefully unmould it on to a serving plate. Serve Warm.