Pittu - A Popular Food Item in Sri Lanka
Pittu - Introduction
Pittu is a popular and frequently prepared food item among Sri Lankans, both Tamils living in Northern and Eastern parts of Sri lanka as well as Sinhalese living in the rest of the areas of the country. This item is prepared in some parts of South India too, but it does not seem that it commands such an important place in the food habits of people there. Traditionally the main ingradient of "Pittu" is rice flour, but kurakkan flour or wheat flour also can be used. In fact wheat flour was introduced in Sri Lanka only during the second world war. The other ingradient is scraped coconut. Now wheat flour also mixed with rice flour or kurakkan flour in the preparation of pittu.
Flours used need to be roasted first. Boiled water and required amount of salt are added to this flour and made it into a fairly tight mix. This mix is then broken into small pieces of approx. 2mm. to 5mm. diameter in size. This done either by hand, or an empty codenced milk container is used to break the flour mix in to pieces. This granular flour mix is steamed with scraped coconut inter-layered.
Steaming is done in a special cylindrical mould. Thraditionally, this mould was made out of hollow bamboo (see the picture below). Now, moulds made out of aluminium together with purpose made pots are available. In northern Sri Lanka, a conical mould woven out of leaves of Palmyra Palm. In this case, scraped coconut is not inter-layered, but mixed evenly with the granules of flour mix. In the last case, the mix can even be steamed in a normal steaming pan.