For the curry, soak the green gram overnight. In the morning, rinse the green gram well and transfer to a pressure cooker. Pour in about 3 cups of water and pressure cook for 12-15 minutes. Turn off.
When the pressure dies down, open the cooker, and mash the dal coarsely. Set aside.
While the green gram cooks, heat up a kadai/wok and add oil to it. When the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds and let them crackle. Then add the curry leaves. Throw in the chopped onion and green chillies till the onions are translucent.
Add the tomatoes and fry till they turn soft. Add in the spice powders , turmeric, red chilli, ground masala powder and salt and pour a cup of water. Mix well. Let the mixture come to a boil.
Add the cooked and mashed green gram and mix well. Pour more water if it is too thick. Bring to a boil. Turn heat down to low, cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes. Stir in between at intervals. Switch off. Keep hot while making the puttu.
Take the puttu flour in a large bowl. Pour water -1/4 cup at a time into the flour and mix with your hands. Stop adding water when the texture of the puttu mixture resembles wet sand.
If you grab a handful and compress with your fingers it should make a dumpling but should fall apart soon after. This is the right consistency. Cover the bowl with a plate or wet towel.
Pour 3-4 cups water into a steamer or pressure cooker and close it. Turn heat to high and wait for the steam to escape through the vent.
Meanwhile fill the puttu steamer. I used a bamboo steamer. You can use the stainless one too. Place about 2 tsp of grated coconut as the bottom most layer of the puttu.
Use the stick that comes with the steamer or a long handled spoon to gently pat it in an even layer at the bottom of the puttu vessel. Now fill in puttu flour mixture loosely up to almost the half the height of the puttu vessel.
Again use a long handled spoon to gently even the layer. Don't press down. Now place another 2-3 tsp of grated coconut and pat down gently. Fill again with puttu flour mixture to about 2 inches below the top edge of the puttu maker.
Top with 2 tsp of grated coconut. Done. You have 3 very thin layers of grated coconut and 2 tall layers of puttu starting and ending with grated coconut.
When the steam starts coming out of the vent, place the steamer over the vent. Your steamer should have a provision at the bottom – a hole at the base that fits snugly onto the cooker vent.
Place a small plate to cove the top of the puttu vessel if you are using a bamboo one like me that doesn’t have a lid.
In about 2-3 minutes, the steam should have made its way to the top of the puttu, cooking the puttu in the process. The top of the puttu vessel should be hot to the touch. Remove the puttu vessel and let cool slightly.
Then use the long stick that comes with the puttu vessel to push the puttu (through the hole at the bottom) on to a plate or banana leaf. Serve hot with Cherupayar curry or egg curry. Enjoy!