To my friends from Malaysia, I have a question for you, putu bambu means bamboo cake...right?

I discovered these treats while visiting the night market in Chow Kit. Funny story, apparently Chow Kit is the redlight district of Kuala Lumpur, but I had no idea. I actually didn’t find this out until the day before my scheduled return to Vietnam. Earlier that day, I took the train to Subang Jaya to buy baking supplies and then waved down a taxi afterwards to take me to the train station to go back to KL. The taxi driver, who at first thought I was a native, but later found out I wasn’t because of my “American” accent; asked where I was staying. I told him Chow Kit, and his reactions were, what? You? I asked him why he’s so surprised. It was then that he told me to be careful as Chow Kit is the hub for drugs, violence, and prostitution. He told me I was very brave. Heheheeh In Chow Kit’s defense, I stayed there for 3 days, walked around its streets at night by myself and never once did I not feel safe.

Back to the main story. I was walking around the night market which is just a few blocks from my hotel. The cakes are so unique I had to stop for a taste even though I already stuffed from eating Satay earlier (more on that later).

The cakes are made from what looks to be coarsely ground rice. Bamboo molds are stuffed half full with the rice. Palm sugar is added and then more rice.

The Cakes are steamed for a few mins.

The finished product is a soft, tender, slightly spongy cake. It’s served with grated coconut, and a spoon full of palm sugar.

It goes to show, sometimes the simplest ingredients can become the tastiest creations. So forget the dough improvers, dough softeners, and sponge gel/stabilizers, stick with tradition!...It's yummy! :p

Comments (9)

On 8:16 AM , Anonymous said...

yes, you're right - 'bambu' is bamboo. a lot of Malay words just sound like misspelled English words, as my Australian fiancé would say.

"puttu" on the other hand, is more accurately known as rice cakes. it's an indian dish, btw.

there are other variations of this 'puttu'
puttu herba (herb rice cakes)
puttu piring (literally, saucer rice cakes)
and the savoury types, puttu mayam (spring hoppers)

glad u enjoyed ur stay ^_^ look forward to your other entries of your travel here.

On 7:45 AM , SteamyKitchen said...

I've never had this before, but it just sounds so wonderful. Can't wait to take a trip to Malaysia.

On 8:31 PM , Hun said...

Rice cake... it is made of rice flour that has been steamed first, then re-steamed in the bamboo to get that piece of goodness. You should try putu piring! It's just as delicious.... putu piring uses the same rice flour but is steamed in muslin cloth and in the middle of this rice cake, there is a spoonful of palm sugar. I love these.

On 1:14 PM , wildtomato said...

Thank you for creating this blog! I just returned from Vietnam and I've been trying to identify so much of the stuff I ate. Your blog has been useful as a research tool, and hopefully I'll be able to try out some of these recipes soon.

On 2:47 PM , Anonymous said...

u were very lucky that nothing happened to u while u were walking at nite by yrself. even for local esp. female they r told not to go out at nite by themself cos of the robberies / rapes.

On 2:13 PM , Beau Lotus 涟 said...

Another version of the steamed rice cake is flat and we call it Kueh Tutu (from the sound made by the steam as it cooks the cakes). The rice flour contains some sugar and sometimes even pandan extrait. We fill it with sweetened coconut, crushed peanuts or if you're like me, I just love it plain. It is not something that you can make easily in your own home though - as the success of the cakes depend on the steam and you'll need a special tutu machine with high-power steam to cook it through within minutes so that the cake is compact yet soft and smooth - and certainly not lumpy. Welcome to street food south of Vietnam, it'll be a whole culinary adventure for a talented and curious cook as yourself :-)

On 3:49 AM , X fm said...

I'm from Indonesia and in here putu bambu is a traditional snack, you can find this snack from big city to small village. It made from fresh rice flour and palm sugar

On 8:45 AM , Anonymous said...

The Vietnamese vision of this cake is delicious too, its call Banh ong


On 11:48 PM , J.C. said...

Oh, you were in Malaysia? I am from Subang Jaya. Glad to read about your adventure in Malaysia. Chow Kit is known to be a notorious area with locals. I am glad to learn that you had a positive experience there.

Thanks to Lily Wai Sek Hong that I stumbled upon your blog. I love cooking and recently began to venture into cooking Vietnamese & Korean dishes for dinner.

I have seen putu bambu being sold in our Ramadhan Bazaar in SS18 Subang Jaya. Fyi, I have never tried it before..haha..Would like to try it out after reading this posting. I have eated putu piring since young and it's yummy. I assume putu bambu is similar to putu piring but it is cooked in a bamboo.