“Putu mayam in Malay or Idiyappam (இடியாப்பம்) in Tamil is a Tamil dish from southern India. It is popular in southern India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore. The process for making putu mayam (also known as string hoppers in English) consists of mixing rice flour or idiyappam flour with water and/or coconut milk, and pressing the dough through a sieve to make vermicelli-like noodles. These are steamed, usually with the addition of juice from the aromatic pandan leaf (screwpine) as flavouring. The noodles are served with grated coconut and jaggery, or, preferably, gur (date palm sugar). In some areas, gula melaka (coconut palm sugar) is the favourite sweetener. (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Putu_mayam)
Sarawak has a small population of Indian yet I have eaten this dish since I was a kid. I remembered there was an Indian uncle who cycled around the town and sold this Indian version of bee hoon or rice vermicelli. He would start singing “Mayam, mayam, mayam…..” in a unique tone. Occasionally, we would buy from him and to be very frank, I am not a fan of putu mayam but the shredded coconut and the white sugar that managed to impress me when I was young.
After I left Kuching, i have only eaten once or twice in Singapore. I remembered that once i bought from Mustafa supermarket that sells frozen putu mayam and another time in a Chinese kopitiam that sells putu mayam with orange sugar. This June 2016 trip when I was in Kuching, I was rather shocked that putu mayam has become very popular in Kuching. At least I stumbled twice in the market. They have impoverish the traditional white colour putu mayam with the addition of fresh pandan juice and hence the what is sold is light greenish in the colour.
When I posted the picture in my Facebook, the response is good and friends are requesting for recipe. This has never been in my recipe list but since readers are requesting, I thought I might give it a try and see if I can made it. Yes I make it and I am pleased with the texture and taste but it is all about hard work. It is rather difficult to press out the noodles. There are a few possibilities, one of them is the mould itself may not be that user friendly. Secondly, I have chosen the thinnest string and hence it become very difficult to press.
To make putu mayam, you will need a sppecial press. I bought mine in Kuching at a cost of less than RM30. I bought because besides putu mayam, i can use it to prepare chendol, muruku or even bee hoon as it comes with a number of pattern discs. This may not be the easiest one to deal with and though unsure, I believed those that have a handle and can turn clockwise may be much easier.
Idiyappam or putu mayam in India is just another type of noodle dishes. It is not necessary be a snack or dessert, it can be eaten with curry or even used for stir frying. However, in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, these string hoppers are sold mostly in the dessert form, served with shredded coconut and some sugar.
Readers may be wondering what is the orangey thingy in the picture. It is a type of orange sugar that was usually served with putu mayam in Singapore. Don’t asked me why but you can easily get this sugar in supermarket or provision shops. It remains a mystery to me that why is it served with this sugar as the sugar has no special taste or aroma. Is it because traditionally, they wanted to enhance the presentation that they used this sugar? As far as I can recall, there are no other recipes that requires the use of these sugar except putu mayam and apam beras sold in the pasar malam.
WHAT IS REQUIRED
Servings: 15 small putu mayam
- 200 grams of rice flour
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1 tablespoon of cooking oil
- 500 ml or grams of cold water
- 5 stalks of pandan leaves (optional)
STEPS OF PREPARATION
- In a pot, put the water, oil, salt and pandan leaves and bring to boil. Once it boils, add the rice flour, off the heat. Stir until well combined and once it is slightly cool, use hand to knead until it forms a pliable dough.
- Take some warm dough, insert into the presser’s cavity, use hand to press onto a steamer tray greased with cooking oil. Steamed under high heat for 2-3 minutes.
- Variation of recipe : You can substitute part of the water with coconut milk or pandan juice to make it tastier and more aromatic.
- In the event it is very hard to press, you can add some water to soften the dough.
- In choosing the pressing disc with various hole sizes. The smallest is for the putu mayam. However, it is rather difficult to press. Alternatively, you can use the one with bigger hole sizes.
It is an achievement to be able to share this recipe. In fact, I have not eaten this for many many years. The first bite really lighted up my day. I hoped this recipe will benefit those who have difficulty to buy this delicious snack. Lastly, it is worthwhile to buy the mould that can use for various recipes and don’t be deter by what I said, your mould may be better than mine that can press out easily.
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