Zulfiker’s Amina Puttukada has 61 varieties of puttu, including special ones for each of the political parties.

Three plates with leaves carrying colourful puttu
Features Food Tuesday, December 01, 2020 - 19:34
Written by  Cris

The rice mill business was not doing so well. Zulfiker, a native of Kuttichal village in Kerala’s Thiruvananthapuram, needed another plan. Everywhere he looked, there’d be ‘choodulla’ (hot) porotta and ‘choodulla’ dosa for sale. When he looked at his mill, he realised he could take the rice out and make some ‘choodulla’ puttu (steamed rice). The 2015 Aruvikkara bye-election was around the corner and with the thought that he can open a shop with something special for the polls, Zulfiker made ‘Sabari’ puttu, short for KS Sabarinath, the Congress candidate who was making his political entry. He was contesting for the seat vacated by the death of his father G Karthikeyan. Zulfiker’s tri-colour puttu, matching the colours of Congress symbol, clicked! Soon, other political parties wanted colourful puttu, representing their parties. Zulfiker was only happy to oblige. No surprise then that his ‘Amina Puttukada’ soon became known as a ‘political puttu kada’. 

“That was five years ago,” says Zulfiker.

It is election time again in Kerala — the local body polls are only days away – and once again, Zulfiker’s colourful puttu dishes are in demand. “For this year’s election, I have added a dish called Sundari puttu (beautiful puttu), representing an independent candidate who is contesting,” Zulfiker says. He has called it Sundari since the candidate is beautiful, Zulfiker adds with a smile. Sundari puttu has six varieties – carrot, beetroot, corn, red rice, pachila (medicinal shrubs) and rice.

Zulfiker does not use artificial colours. “The yellow comes from corn, the black is from ragi, the orange from carrot and the pink from beetroot. For green, I use pachila that are used for the treatment of new mothers,” says Zulfiker, whose Amina Puttukada is located in Kuttichal, a village 30 km east from Thiruvananthapuram city.

Zulfiker with his natural colours

The dark pink is used for the Communist party, the green for the Muslim League, the tricolour for the Congress and the carrot-orange for the BJP. 

There are about 61 varieties of puttu in Amina Puttukada, including non-vegetarian options such as ‘egg roast puttu’, ‘irachi puttu,’ ‘chicken puttu’ and ‘beef puttu’. For children, he makes chocolate puttu, boost puttu, milk puttu and so on.

“Anything is a challenge. Whatever is asked, I try to make it,” Zulfiker says.

“I wanted to make some difference, not just through the colour of the puttu. This is such a healthy option for people with diabetics and high cholesterol since puttu needs no oil. And for diabetic patients, for whom rice is not good, there is puttu made of wheat, broken corn and so on,” he adds. 

Watch: Zulfikar push out his puttu



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