Putu Mayam (Rice Cake)
When was the last time you ate Putu Mayam?
In the Malayan languages, the word ‘putu’ is translated to ‘rice cake’, while the ‘mayam’ may have been derived from the word ‘mayang’ which is translated as ‘grated coconut’.
Best served cold, Putu Mayam is made of rice flour strands that have a soft, fluffy texture, and pairs well with freshly grated coconut and red sugar. Its appearance is like that of noodles, very much like the vermicelli noodles used for Chinese dishes. It is usually eaten for breakfast or as a snack.
The dish has been around in Singapore as early as the 1920s when street hawkers wrapped the dish in newspaper and carried it in a basket balanced on their heads. It used to be served with gula melaka cut into small blocks instead of the granulated sugar we see today.
Today, freshly-made Putu Mayam is not commonly found. Even though the dish looks simple, only a handful of stalls make it from scratch as it is a tedious process. The main ingredient for the Putu Mayam strands is rice flour. Rice flour is first carefully roasted with pandan before water is added to form a smooth, sticky dough. The dough is then set aside to rest. Upon order, the dough is filled into a hand wooden press with holes. A lot of strength is required to force the dough through the holes for the thin strands to form. Finally, the strands are placed on greased rattan trays or pandan leaves and steamed for 30 seconds.
A more traditional way of serving the dish would be to put it on a banana leaf to make for easier consumption without the need for a spoon and fork.
While it remains a dish sometimes served on Indian festive occasions such as Deepavali and Indian weddings, the Indian Muslim community has helped to make Putu Mayam a popular dish during Ramadan and other Malay festivities.
Where do you get your Putu Mayam fix?
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