Muthira pachakaya puzhukku


Puzhukku is a dish made of starchy root vegetables and lentils swathed in a spiced coconut paste, with origins in the Palakkad region of Kerala. It’s a wholesome meal that can carry you through a busy day. In this version, green unripe plantain is paired with horse gram.


This recipe is from Why Cook, written by writer and publisher Archana Pidathala. In Why Cook, Archana engages with food as a way to interact with the world, chronicling stories and recipes from 16 women—friends of hers who are artists, musicians, farmers, and entrepreneurs—exploring why they cook.  The recipe was featured in the chapter on Vishalakshi Padmanabhan, founder of Buffalo Back Collective, and social activist.

Horse gram ¾ cup
Ginger, peeled and grated 1 inch
Raw plantains, peeled, washed, and cut into ½ inch pieces 2
Turmeric powder ¼ Teaspoon
Salt To taste
Fresh coconut, grated ½ cup
Shallots, peeled and roughly chopped 3
Garlic cloves, peeled 3
Green chillies, chopped 2
Black pepper 1 Teaspoon
Cumin seeds 1 Teaspoon
Curry Leaves 5-6
Coconut oil 1-2 Tablespoon

Pressure cooker,  grinder-mixer or food processor.


Wash the horse gram well and soak in water for 3-4 hours. Once soaked, drain the water.


Place the horse gram and ginger in a pressure cooker along with 2 cups of water. Pressure cook to 4-5 whistles or until the lentils are soft but not mushy. Once the pressure settles, open the lid and drain any excess water.


Place the plantain in a vessel along with the turmeric powder, salt and just enough water to cover the pieces. Mix and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes or until the plantain pieces are tender but hold their shape. Take the dish off the heat and drain any excess water.


While the plantain is cooking, grind the grated coconut, shallots, garlic, green chillies, black pepper, cumin seeds and curry leaves to a coarse paste in a mixer/food processor.


Add the boiled horse gram and the freshly ground coconut paste to the cooked plantain. Mix gently till well combined. Taste and add salt if required.


Drizzle coconut oil and mix one last time. Serve with rice or rice gruel and roasted papad.

Tips and Variations

You can also use yam, tapioca or taro instead of plantain and replace horse gram with green gram.

Vishalakshi Padmanabhan runs Buffalo Back Collective, which works with small and marginal farmers who follow sustainable agricultural practices. The collective, led by Vishalakshi, also runs an all-women bakery in Ragihalli. 


To know more about Vishalakshi and Buffalo Back, read this excerpt from ‘Why Cook’ by Archana Pidathala.

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