900g of pre-roasted rice flour (red or white) – Approx :4 cups
2 ½ to 3 cups of scraped coconut
Salt to taste
Water as needed
A Pittu making steamer or a regular streamer
A note about steamers:
If you don’t have a Pittu-making-steamer (a pittu bambuwak) you can still use a regular steamer as well. Keep the pittu pebbles on a small plate and steam. If you have the accessory that use to make Idly, put a damp cloth over it and steam the pittu. Here, I am only talking about how to steam with the traditional type, Pittu steamer.
In a bowl, gently mix the flour, coconut and salt with your clean fingers. In fact, you have two options to add salt. Those are, you can either do as I have mentioned or you can mix salt to water that we are going to use to form Pittu. Now, take a small bowl with some lukewarm water to your working area to start forming the pittu (Pittu Mal Karanna). Next, sprinkle some water on to the flour-mix and start gently forming the pittu with your fingers. You have to move your fingers in a circular motion, as you are rubbing, on the top layer of flour.
Once, you are done with the first layer, transfer them gently to a plate and repeat the same process. Remember, we are going towards a fine-grains-like consistency, not a bread-dough-like consistency. Now, when water of the Pittu-making-steamer (Pittu bambuwa) has started to boil, fill its chamber with the pittu pebbles and start steaming. Once you see the steam is coming from the top of the steamer, close the top lid. Then, continue steaming for about 2- 3 minutes and push the steamed pittu out of the chamber with a stick or the rear end of a spoon.
You can serve this with number of dishes and condiments. Traditionally, pittu was served with either only salted coconut milk or coconut milk plus “lunu-miris” (Sri Lankan style blended chili-onion paste) and even with sugar or jaggery. Frankly, we eat like this always, still. Anyways, you can eat these with any kind of a curry that you prefer.
Now, let me tell you from which aspect that this method is unique to Sri Lankans. When you make coconut pittu in the south Indian way, unlike our way, you don’t mix the coconut directly with the flour initially. They make the pittu pebbles only with four, water and salt and then they add coconut separately as layers when filling the steaming chamber. This simple difference has definitely given a unique taste.