Patole: Rice and coconut dumplings in turmeric leaf

Aai’s picture, courtesy: Nirmala Purushotam

My maternal gran has been one of the biggest influences to my culinary obsession. As a kid, I would be perched atop a tall stool in her bright and airy south Bombay kitchen while she made the silkiest, thousand-layered ghadi-chi-poli. She would send me out to the living room as she roasted the semolina for sheera, training my senses to identify the perfect stage from the heady aroma wafting from the kitchen. It was she who taught me to save coriander stalks and add them in a tadka for daal. I owe a huge chunk of my ability to understand textures, aromas, and food pairings to her.

Aai (my maternal gran) always kept an immaculate kitchen, employing her Gandhian ways in keeping just as much as she needed—no indulgences. And yet, she could serve up the most glorious of meals to sudden guests. To this day, she regularly checks the kitchen for unnecessary extravagance that could potentially be wasted. Not that we always listen to her. Wink.

One of my favoritest things in Aai’s kitchen is this beautiful, ancient, brass steamer. As a kid, I remember how she would get a small charcoal stove going in her kitchen balcony, buying small amounts of kerosene and charcoal from the maid and the dhobi. On top of the reddening jewels of charcoal would sit this gleaming steamer, containing rice or sweet potatoes or whatever else she needed to steam for the day. It would sit there for over an hour, gently cooking its contents in the smoke-scented steam in its belly. The flavor of plain rice steamed in this was something else entirely.

As I saw Amma’s turmeric plant bending over with the weight of the fresh leaves of the season, I thought it was a perfect opportunity to get out the old steamer and make some Patole. These sweet, rice and coconut dumplings come from the western coast of India, and are made in the monsoon because that’s when the turmeric leaves are fresh, the new rice is sticky, and something warm and comforting is welcome. As the dumplings steam gently, the aroma of the turmeric leaf steeps into the rice flour batter, and makes it a perfect carrier for the sweet, modak-like stuffing inside, made from freshly grated coconut and jaggery. Eaten piping hot with a spoonful of freshly made ghee, it can soothe the most frazzled of nerves, and give you a mother’s reassurance about everything that’s going to be alright.

Patole
Ingredients:

  • 10 turmeric leaves, washed and destalked
  • 1 large cup of freshly grated coconut
  • ¾ cup of jaggery, chopped
  • ¼ tsp. green cardamom seeds, powdered
  • 1 cup of fine rice flour
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ½ cup of water

Method:

  1. Place the coconut and jaggery in a thick-bottomed saucepan and cook on medium heat until well combined. The jaggery should melt and the mixture should be dry to look at, but it should have some moisture in it.
  2. Add the powdered cardamom and combine. Keep aside.
  3. Get your steamer ready.
  4. Meanwhile, combine the salt and rice flour in a mixing bowl and make a thick batter, using as little water as possible. The batter should not be runny.
  5. Place a turmeric leaf horizontally on a chopping board. Spoon over some of the batter and spread it into a thin layer all over the leaf.
  6. Spoon the coconut filling onto one half of the leaf.
  7. Fold the other half over the filled half and press slightly. Place in your steamer and allow to cook for about five minutes.
  8. Unfold on a serving plate and serve piping hot, topped with ghee.

Comments (27)

  1. Aparna August 26, 2011 at 3:48 am

    SKK, BEautifully written. <3

  2. Ms.Chitchat August 26, 2011 at 7:38 am

    Enjoyed the write-up as much as the recipe, thanks for the illustrative clicks too.

  3. Anjali August 26, 2011 at 8:28 am

    Saee that steamer is called "Dhapa" in Koli and it was used in my home in the village for modaks! I can smell those patole right thru the pics.

  4. Nupur August 26, 2011 at 9:42 am

    What a delightful post, Saee. I truly enjoyed reading it- that steamer is a marvel and I am inspired by your Aai's Gandhian ways in the kitchen. Patole are a delicacy- one has to be lucky to get to eat them.

  5. Bong Mom August 26, 2011 at 10:04 am

    What a beautiful post. I haven't had a Patole, but that steamer is a killer and your grandma is so sweet

  6. Sayantani August 26, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    the last click almost took my breadth away. such a beautiful leaf pattern on the patole. your dadi is very sweet. love her Gandhian approach…

  7. Rushina August 26, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    Thats a truly beautiful post Saee! Thanks for the windo into your relationship with your grandma!

  8. Nithu August 26, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    beautiful memories. I am always drawn toward these kinda interesting old type vessels. Looks awesome. Nice pictures.

  9. Anonymous August 26, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    That steamer is a treasure!!! I really enjoyed reading about ur Aai (who reminds me so much of my own aaji) and the lip smacking Patole. I remember having it ages ago and the memory is still clear in my mind. I so agree with Nupur, 'one has to be really lucky to get to eat them'.

    There is a very popular mexican delicacy called 'Tamales', these are steamed in corn husks. The covering is made in a similar way using corn flour and the filling is usually of meat.

    – Priti

  10. Desisoccermom August 26, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    Have to agree with Sandeepa and Nupur. That is a beautiful post with so much love and respect for your Aai coming through in those patolas. BTW, I am Maharashtrain and I have never heard or eaten patolas but they sound wonderful. Kind of like ukdiche modal but a more rustic version of it. Never knew turmeric leaves could be used for cooking. Heck, I don't even know what a turmeric plant looks like.
    As to your Aai's gorgeous steamer, I love it. I hauled my Aaji's chaha sakharache dabbe all the way from India when she put her old ones away. All banged up and missing their original knobs, I still think they are priceless.
    Now that I have found your blog, expect long comments like this every time you post. 🙂

  11. Kalyan August 27, 2011 at 2:13 am

    Your granny looks really beautiful.

    That's a very granny quality I guess 🙂

  12. Anonymous August 27, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    Beautifully written. I remember my Mom making them when I was a child. I think she used the cooked modak dough to make these. At first I hated the turmeric leaf flavor, but gradually acquired a taste for it.

    You are lucky to have a lovely Aaji !

  13. Nags August 27, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    we make something similar in kerala although in banana leaves. never heard of using turmeric leaves for this! loved all the pics 🙂

  14. Anonymous August 31, 2011 at 2:37 am

    The batter can be done with wheat flour as well and patolyo turn equally delicious.We make them that way for Ganapati in Goa.They can be consumed as upvaas food when rice is forbidden.

  15. Mints! September 7, 2011 at 9:59 am

    Oh such a lovely post!! I also have similar memories from my ajji's kitchen. I love patolya but its hard to find turmeric leaves here so I use banana leaves or kardali leaves 🙂

    I love the modak patra!!

  16. Shoba Shrinivasan September 18, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    Wow,

    First time on your page and I was amazed to see such an authentic recipe. The steamer all polished and kept clean over the years has been serving your grandmom`s kitchen so lovingly. I never knew you could use turmeric leaves. Do they have an inbuilt flavor? Lovely steamed and healthy dish!

    Shobha

  17. Priya Sreeram August 6, 2012 at 8:48 pm

    such a lovely post saee and all the fond rememberances is making me nostalgic !

  18. Pingback: How to make Ghee: A step-by-step recipe

  19. Swetha Adappa August 2, 2013 at 7:44 pm

    The dish looks so delectable ! And the steamer is such a beauty 🙂

  20. Prashant August 3, 2014 at 1:36 am

    Where can we find this in mumbai. I love it very much, would be vrry great ful if someone can tell me as to where can we find it in mumbai

  21. shubhangi February 26, 2015 at 9:57 am

    i want to buy big modakpatra. can anybody suggest where can i buy?

    prashant if u r asking about patole. u can get it with us in navi mumbai.also ukadiche modak n other konkani traditional sweets.

  22. Sachin Patwardhan August 20, 2015 at 12:06 am

    My search for Patole brought me to this website. Really superb blog. Would have loved to see your style video of Patole. Best wishes.

  23. bhakti August 20, 2015 at 4:29 am

    its very difficult to find haldi leaves in Europe, is there any substitute for these leaves??, i love patolya, and missing it 🙁

  24. saraswathi chandramo September 1, 2016 at 10:18 pm

    can you tell me where I can get a similar modak patra in brass

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *