Putu bambu is an Indonesian steamed rice cake originating from the Tamil puttu. It consists of rice flour stuffed with palm sugar and steamed in Bamboo tubes and then topped with grated coconut and sprinkle of sugar. It is quite similar to Putu Piring or Kueh Tutu in Malaysia and Singapore. They are made using a special mould.
Putu bambu are steamed in the bamboo tubes in Indonesia. Of course I couldn’t find the bamboo pipes here in the United States. The only reason I have these because I had my mom brought them over. She actually bought them from the Putu Bambu seller who custom made them for her. The bamboo pipes set comes with of course the pipes and the little coins.
The pipe has three spikes inside to hold the coins. I’m still wondering why they designed it like that. Why not just create the pipe that has a bottom. But I finally understand that they need the steam to go through from the bottom of the steamer and it’s easier to create it the way it is now.
I had failed probably at least 5 times making this putu bambu. The cake came out gummy and rubbery all the times (see my recipe notes). Until I finally tried the real Tamil puttu recipe and BINGO ! I was finally able to get the rice flour mixture to the right consistency. My recipe inspiration and how to steam it with idly maker and using puttu maker are from here.
Indonesian Putu Bambu (Steamed Rice Cake in Bamboo)
- 200 gr rice flour
- 140 ml water
- 120 gr palm sugar shaved/grated
- 150 gr finely grated coconut (thawed if frozen)
- Small pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
Prepare the topping by mixing the grated coconut and salt and steam for 5 minutes
Get the steamer ready with some water on high heat. Place the rice flour in a large mixing bowl. Adding the water a little bit at a time. I can't stress enough the importance of not dumping the water all at once. Continue until you use up most of the water (or all) and you get a fine powdery consistency (not large granules, that means it's too wet!). If you press your finger on the mixture, it will hold its shape and if you push it with your finger again, it will crumble. You know you have the right consistency if you can do this
If you use idly maker (I haven't tried this myself):
The process is very similar to using kueh tutu mold. Layer with flour mixture, then the gula jawa and then cover with more flour. The only difference is you don't need to remove any mold or flip over anything. It's probably much easier. Steam for about 10-15 minutes
If you use bamboo tube like I do:
Put some of the flour mixture inside the tube (with the coin already inserted inside the pipe), about 3/4 of the height of the tube. DO NOT PACK/PRESS the flour. It is supposed to be loose, then gently use your thumb to make a hole in the middle and fill it up with gula jawa and cover with more flour all the way to the top. Repeat with the rest
Place the tube in the steamer and steam over high heat for 20 minutes
When ready, push the Putu Bambu out. You can use a chopstick and slowly push the coin out and the Putu Bambu will slide out. Don't panic if it doesn't really hold its shape. Line your serving dish with banana leaves if you want. That's how it was served in Indonesia
Sprinkle with the grated coconut and salt mixture along with a generous amount of sugar on top of it. Ready to Chow 😉
1. The challenging part of making this putu bambu is really getting the right consistency of the flour mixture. If it's too wet, it will come out rubbery and gummy (I had that at least 3 times!)
2. I didn't prepare the rice flour from scratch. I use Thai rice flour (readily available at Asian grocery store or see affiliate link below) and I did not stir fry the flour anymore
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