Two more days and Singapore will be 45 years old. In the midst of the celebration, one restaurant with a penchant for local history since its establishment in 1924, aims to bring back the Putu Bola to the plates of diners, as a living memory of a disappearing national heritage.
Through the Putu Bola, Mr. Nadarajan, Managing Partner of the Ananda Bhavan restaurants, aims to revive the nostalgic times with the older generation and even spark new interest with the younger crowd.
In his welcome keynote, it was fascinating to realise that the simple humble white rice ball when eaten with brown, red sugar, and dessicated coconut was once the staple for many families in Singapore during the 1970s. As said by Mr. Nadarajan, Putu Bola was made from the remaining flour used to create the Putu Mayam (string hoppers), and was a “poor man’s dish” with what I believe has a very rich impact on society.
The Putu Bola, Kopi-Tarik, and even a smorgasbord of Indian Vegetarian cuisine, I think its time to visit Andana Bhavan.
Chefs Mr Selvam and Mr Sarathi were at the media event and together they demonstrated how the Putu Bola was created. A simple mix of rice flour, dessicated coconut together with a sprinkling of salt were used to create the base mix. And after which, all work is dependent on the hands. (I have included the Putu Bola recipe at the end of the article)
For me, I found the Putu Bola to be mildly flavoured with the dessicated coconut within entertaining with hints of sweetness. More flavour is created when coating the ball in either more dessicated coconut or with red or brown sugar. Strangely enough, even though this is not a usual cuisine for my palate, it was surprisingly familiar. Somehow, when one realises the history behind this dish, the simple rice ball was actually another man’s survival.
The chefs creating the Putu Bola
Tiers of Putu Mayam were also demonstrated and created.
Malai Kofta, Mixed Vegetable Pakoda, Vegetarian Samosa, Mini Spring Rolls
At the media event, there was also a spread of Ananda Bhavan’s Indian Vegetarian Cuisine. My table all agreed that if there were someone to cook Indian Vegetarian food everday for us the way this restaurant did it, we would have no issues in turning into vegetarians. It was fascinatingly tasty, savoury and with a generous stuffing of ingredients.
Three types of na’ans were presented to us. Butter, Garlic and Sweet Na’an. Nicely done and a very good staple with the sauces.
These were stuffed bread which were very good. I would have gone back for seconds if i was not so full.
And I have to admit that I am very impressed with the Indian Desserts crafted and served during our session. A total of 10 different varieties and each one of them in a unique sweetness (ranging from mild to extremely sweet) with varying textures and colourful hues.
There were :
- Pista Burfi
- Gulab Jamun
- Gova Laddu
- Badam Roka
- Orissa Malwa
- Nei Urundai
- Badam Roll
- Chocolate Burfi
- Besar Peda
Mr. Nadarajan during his welcome keynote
I seldom visit Indian Vegetarian Restaurants as it just never did occur to me. But with the impressive spread presented by Ananda Bhavan, I think that there is much more for me to explore. And Indian Vegetarian cuisine would be a great starter.
It was a great experience trying out the Putu Bola and relieving its memories. The restaurant will only be bringing it back on the 8th and 9th of August, so for those wanting a slice of history, perhaps you should take a bite out of the humble rice ball before it disappears forever.
Putu Bola Recipe (courtesy of Ananda Bhavan Restaurant)
- Rice flour, 500 grams
- Desiccated coconut, 450 grams
- Salt, 2 grams
- Red Sugar and desiccated coconut, to serve
- Add 100 grams of water to 500 grams of rice flour
- Loosely knead the mixture
- Sieve the mixture and steam it for 10 minutes
- Add the fresh dessicated coconut to the steamed flour and shape into balls of about 80 grams each.
- Steam the mixture again for another 10 minutes
- Serve the Putu Bola with red sugar and dessicated coconut.
Many Thanks to Mr. Nadarajan, Managing Partner Ananda Bhavan Restaurant for hosting and conducting this media session cum demonstration. Also, thank you Anu Ramasamy, Senior Account Manager Fulford Public Relations, and James Lin, PR Coordinator, Business Development Fulford Public Relations, for the invitation.
95 Syed Alwi Road (besides Mustafa Center)