If someone asks me, what is my favourite childhood breakfast, without a second thought I would say manipittu. Even though this dish can be used for dinner, it is mostly popular as a breakfast dish. My personal choice and the traditional side dish for manipittu is slightly salted fresh coconut milk. You can eat only with coconut milk or you can eat with either sugar or lunu-miris along with coconut milk. Some people prefer to eat this with baabath curry, but surely, you can eat manipittu with any curry that you prefer.
- 1kg (or any amount as you prefer) of steamed wheat flour
- Salt to your taste (Start with 1tsp of salt for 1Kg or flour)
- Hot water as needed (Water close to the boiling point)
- A Pittu-steamer made with stainless steel or Bamboo (Pittu Bambuwa)
- Pittu-dough-presser or the string-hopper-presser-with-Pittu-nozzle
- A dry working surface or large board
- A sifter
- A rolling pin or a large regular glass bottle
- Longer wooden stick or a longer spoon
- A regular large steamer to steam the flour (If applicable)
Instructions to prepare steamed flour:
If you are unable to buy steamed wheat flour around your neighborhood, here is the way to steam the flour. Before steaming the flour we have to pack it in either a paper cone or a cloth-bag. Preferably, you can take a thick cotton cloth (Amu redi kallak) and place the flour on top and make a bundle. Here, you can also use a clean cotton pillow cover. However, most commonly, people use a large sheet of regular paper or a newspaper to do the packing. They, place the flour in a paper cone and enclose it by folding in the opening of the cone inwards. However, it is preferred to use a blank paper instead of a newspaper to eliminate the risk of harmful chemical contamination that would cause by the ink of the printed papers.
Now, once the flour is packed appropriately, place it in a steamer and steam for about 10 minutes. Then, take the bundle safely off of the streamer and let it cool down for few minutes in the packing until it reaches a level that you can safely handle the packing. Now, gently open the pouch and you will find a solid ball of flour. Now, you need a sifter and rolling pin. If you do not have a rolling pin, use a regular glass bottle. Now, take the ball on to a dry surface or a board and used the pin or the bottle to roll and regrind until it turns to a fine flour. To be clear, take small portions from the ball and crush and sift to get the flour.
Remember, if you are planning to save a portion of steamed flour for later use, it is important to keep it refrigerated to prevent spoiling of the flour.
Before making the dough, put 1-1/2 cups of flour aside for glazing. Now, pour the flour into a large bowl and add 1tsp of salt and mix well with fingers. Personally, I test the salt at this level before adding water. Take a pinch of flour mix and taste and see. Remember, the taste of the salt that you are going to have at this point might elevate once the water is added so be careful. Also, I like to note that you will only have to play with salt at your first time. Once you will find your taste, you know how to do it perfectly, next time. Ok back to the recipe. Now, add hot water little-by-little and start mixing with a wooden stick or the rear aspect of a longer large spoon. The final product should be at a soft-but-little-stiffer consistency. After, when you feel like the temperature of the dough is at a safe level to touch, gently mix and handle the dough with your fingers.
Now, once the dough is prepared, you will need a clean and a dry surface to make the Pittu-pebbles. First, sprinkle bit of steamed flour on to the surface and with hands spread the flour all over the working surface area. Now, load the Pittu-presser or the string-hopper-presser-with-pittu-nozzle with an appropriate portion of the dough. Now, gently press the dough on to the floured surface while moving the presser around.
Then, take more steamed flour and sprinkle over the pressed long noodles-like strings. Now, here is where you need your fine motor skills of your fingers. Then, gently lift the strings up a bit with your fingers and simply drop on to the same surface.
Each time you do it you will see that the stings are breaking down to smaller pieces. If you feel like you need more flour, just sprinkle some more in. Because, it is important that these pieces won’t stick to each other. It is the flour that is responsible for that task. Now, once the strings are broken into smaller pieces, transfer them gently to the sifter and start sifting. Remember, you can sift on to the same surface so that you don’t have to re-flour the surface for the next batch. Now, continue to do this with the whole dough. Frankly, though this sounds like it consumes lot of time, it really does not. So don’t be scared.
Once you have made the Pittu peddles, fire up the cooker and let the water of the steamer reach the boiling point. Then, fill the Pittu-steaming-chamber with the pebbles and place the chamber on the steamer and leave the top open. Now, once you see that the steam it coming out of the top of the chamber, close the opening with the lid and cook for approximately for 2 minutes. Then, take the chamber safely out of the steamer and using a long stick or a spoon push the Pittu out of the chamber. Now, once you make the first Pittu, you can see whether it is over cooked or semi cooked so that you can adjust your cooking time accordingly. Personally, for the size of the Pittu-steamer I have, I only cook for around 2 minutes after seen the first steam-flares from the top.
Note: traditionally, soon as you take the cooked Pittu out, little bit of slightly-salted-fresh-coconut-milk is pours or sprinkled on to the Pittu pieces. However, it is important to remember that if you are planning to keep the pittu pieces for few days in a fridge, you shouldn’t be doing that as it might drive the Pittu to be spoiled sooner. But, if you intend to consume all that cooked on the same day, it is advisable to pour little bit of coconut milk soon as you take them out as it improves its taste a bit.