Putu piring



Putu piring is a round, steamed rice cake filled with melted palm sugar or gula melaka, and eaten with freshly grated coconut.1 It is a popular local Malay snack.

Description
Made of ground rice flour, the putu piring cakes are shaped by conical moulds into circular mounds.3 A spoonful of gula melaka (palm sugar) is placed in the centre and then covered with a second layer of rice flour.4 The mould is turned upside down and placed on a cheesecloth lining a small plate for steaming. Each mould is then covered with a conical lid and steamed for a few minutes.5 When cooked, each piece is removed from the mould with the help of a small square piece of banana leaf.6 Before eating, the putu piring is topped with freshly grated coconut that adds a savoury punch to the sweet cake.7 If the flour was sieved beforehand, the putu piring would literally melt in the mouth.8

Putu piring can be eaten hot or cold. It is usually eaten as a breakfast item but is also served on festive occasions such as the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.9

History
Putu piring has the same ingredients as putu mayam (southern Indian string hoppers) and is served with the same toppings.10 Piring is Malay for “saucer”, probably a reference to the miniature plates on which the dish is cooked.11 Putu is probably derived from a Tamil word for something made with flour and coconut.12 One of the main challenges in preparing putu piring was the purchase of its steamer. In the past, putu piring steamers and moulds had to be custom-made and specially-ordered from metal and copper shops.13


Variations
Putu bamboo or putu bambu got its name from being shaped by hollow bamboo or cylindrical containers made of wood. Its ingredients are the same as putu piring but the preparations and final product are different. Here, rice flour is packed into a bamboo cylinder before adding gula melaka and desiccated coconut to it. The mixture is steamed and when ready, removed from the bamboo and wrapped in coconut leaves.14 In Indonesia this dish is known simply as putu and is still sold by itinerant vendors. Putu is steamed in a mobile steamer that is carried either on foot, by bicycle or on a horse-drawn cart.15

Putu piring is often mistakenly referred to as kueh tutuThe latter, which is of Chinese origin, has a peanut or coconut filling and is smaller in size than putu piring, which has only gula melaka as filling. Another difference is that kueh tutu is eaten without grated coconut.16



Author

Bonny Tan




References
1. Gwee, T. H. (2006). A Baba Malay dictionary: The first comprehensive compendium of Straits Chinese terms and expressions. Tokyo: Tuttle Pub., p. 115. (Call no.: RSING 499.28321 GWE); A tart of multiracial origins? (1987, July 2). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. Oon, V. (1984, February 12). Try a perfect telly snack. Singapore Monitor, p. 31. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Mowe, R. (Ed.). (1999). Southeast Asian specialties: A culinary journey. Culinaria: Konemann, p. 138. (Call no.: RSING 641.5959 SOU); Chia, F. (1994). The Babas revisited. Singapore: Heinemann Asia, p. 174. (Call no.: RSING 309.895105957 CHI); Eckhardt, R., & Hagerman, D. (2005, September 26). Streetside sweets: Putu piring. Retrieved 2016, October 17 from EatingAsia website: http://eatingasia.typepad.com/eatingasia/2005/09/streetside_swee.html
4. Mowe, R. (Ed.). (1999). Southeast Asian specialties: A culinary journey. Culinaria: Konemann, p. 138. (Call no.: RSING 641.5959 SOU); Bagaimana membuat putu piring… (1975, October 13). Berita Harian, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Eckhardt, R., & Hagerman, D. (2005, September 26). Streetside sweets: Putu piring. Retrieved 2016, October 17 from EatingAsia website: http://eatingasia.typepad.com/eatingasia/2005/09/streetside_swee.html
5. Mowe, R. (Ed.). (1999). Southeast Asian specialties: A culinary journey. Culinaria: Konemann, p. 138. (Call no.: RSING 641.5959 SOU)
6. Bagaimana membuat putu piring… (1975, October 13). Berita Harian, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Eckhardt, R., & Hagerman, D. (2005, September 26). Streetside sweets: Putu piring. Retrieved 2016, October 17 from EatingAsia website: http://eatingasia.typepad.com/eatingasia/2005/09/streetside_swee.html
7. Mowe, R. (Ed.). (1999). Southeast Asian specialties: A culinary journey. Culinaria: Konemann, p. 138. (Call no.: RSING 641.5959 SOU); Bagaimana membuat putu piring… (1975, October 13). Berita Harian, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Chia, F. (1994) The Babas revisited. Singapore: Heinemann Asia, p. 174. (Call no.: RSING 309.895105957 CHI); Eckhardt, R., & Hagerman, D. (2005, September 26). Streetside sweets: Putu piring. Retrieved 2016, October 17 from EatingAsia website: http://eatingasia.typepad.com/eatingasia/2005/09/streetside_swee.html
8. Foo, D. (2003, October 5). Fast food of the 1960s. The Straits Times, p. 41. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Oon, V. (1984, February 12). Try a perfect telly snack. Singapore Monitor, p. 31. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Faridah Begum. (2007, September 23). Aroma rasa: Heavenly putu piring. Retrieved 2016, October 17 from mStar website: http://www.mstar.com.my/artikel/?file=/2007/9/24/KOLUM/AROMA_RASA/AROMA_RASA_Heavenly_putu_piring
10. Chia, F. (1994). The Babas revisited. Singapore: Heinemann Asia, p. 174. (Call no.: RSING 309.895105957 CHI)
11. Faridah Begum. (2007, September 23). Aroma rasa: Heavenly putu piring. Retrieved 2016, October 17 from mStar website: http://www.mstar.com.my/artikel/?file=/2007/9/24/KOLUM/AROMA_RASA/AROMA_RASA_Heavenly_putu_piring
12. Tutu, kutu or putu. (1987, July 23). The Straits Times, p. 3; A tart of multiracial origins? (1987, July 2). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Bagaimana membuat putu piring… (1975, October 13). Berita Harian, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Chan, M. (1981, August 31). Treat yourself to a putu bamboo feast. New Nation, p. 15; Katrina Karim. (2002, October 5). Asian delights. Today, p. 23. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Faridah Begum. (2007, September 23). Aroma rasa: Heavenly putu piring. Retrieved 2016, October 17 from mStar website: http://www.mstar.com.my/artikel/?file=/2007/9/24/KOLUM/AROMA_RASA/AROMA_RASA_Heavenly_putu_piring
15. Webb, C. (n.d.). In pursuit of putu. Retrieved 2016, October 17 from Australia Indonesia Arts Alliance website: http://www.aiaa.org.au/newsletter/news12/cynthia.html
16. A tart of multiracial origins? (1987, July 2). The Straits Times, p. 1; Oon, V. (1985, February 3). Local snack delight with a difference. Singapore Monitor, p. 15. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



The information in this article is valid as at 2010 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

 

Subject
Snack foods--Singapore
Cookery>>International and regional cooking>>Malay
Cookery>>Types of meals>>Desserts
Ethnic Communities>>Food
Cooking, Malaysian
Ethnic foods