Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Putu Mayam Man and the Monster

My Putu Mayam man did not have a fixed schedule. You never knew when he would come so I had a standing order with my grandmother, if the Putu Mayam man came while I was away, please get me two Putu Mayam with fresh grated coconut and extra Gula Melaka - a most delicious deep caramel flavored sugar made from the sap of the coconut flower- there is no real substitute for it. I admit I use dark brown sugar as a substitute these days but I am far from Malaysia and it is near impossible to get the traditional Gula Melaka wrapped in coconut palm. I digress......The Putu Mayam is a vermicelli like rice flour noodle, made by pressing the dough through a mold with tiny holes. The strings are swirled in a circular motion to form a nest. These nest are then steamed. The combination of the hot Putu Mayam, sweet freshly grated coconut and gula melaka is out of this world! Love it. I think I am going to have to try to make it one day - Lily to the rescue.

I spy a picture of Putu Mayam man - not mine!! Mine did not have a dapper tartan cap. However, he did come on a bicycle with his metal treasure chest of delicious treat. Take a look at him at http://www.flickr.com/photos/terrosa/3007193732/

Pictures taken from http://eatingasia.typepad.com

These pictures here shows a Putu Mayam man
pressing the dough out of the mould unto an upturned rattan basket. These Putu Mayam nests will then be steamed. He is serving the Putu Mayam topped with grated coconut - the green one is probably flavored and scented with Pandan leaves (screwpine), and gula melaka. Who remembers these delicious packets?

As I was driving back from dropping my son A at school today and thinking about the Putu Mayam man, I remember another Putu Mayam significant person. The Monster!! Were we just cruel when when we were younger??? The person my husband and I fondly call the "Monster" was the cleaning lady we had when we first got married and living in 10 Lorong Palas in Southern Park. "Monster" came to us via my mother-in-law, for whom she had been working. She came on Saturdays to wash our clothes and clean the house. I cannot remember why we started calling her the "Monster" but I can still picture in my mind, walking through the doors on Saturday, after grocery shopping and asking my husband, "is Monster here yet?" I think it was because Monster did whatever she wanted no matter what and how many times you told her the way you like things done. But she was trustworthy. We could leave her to the work (done her style) and just go out on our Saturday jaunts. What did we call her? Oh, how I wished I remember.... it will come to me. Come on, now people. We DID NOT call her Monster to her face. Besides, what is Monster in Malay? I can only think out names like hantu (ghost) and shiatan (devil). Help me out here, family. Ha, ha.... I do however see a picture in my mind of my mother-in-law scolding "Monster" ! There is no literal translation for that!!!! Love my mother-in-law.

As usual, I digressed. Putu Mayam man at 10 Lorong Palas had a habit of coming through the lane at the back of the house. We lived in what would be termed as town houses in this country. We call them terraced houses in Malaysia. Anyway, the back of these terrace houses rows faced each other. I guess he figured correctly, that housewives will be in the back of the house, cooking, cleaning or hanging out laundry and he would have better luck getting their attention coming though the back. I would tell her to hail down the Putu Mayam man if he comes by and get me some Putu Mayam. She took over from my grandmother on the standing order in my own household. I guessed after awhile, she noticed how much I liked them. One day, she surprised me. When I asked her if the Putu Mayam man had come, she said no but that she had made me some Putu Mayam. They were delicious!!! From that day onwards, she would treat me to Putu Mayam and other indian treats every now and then. Yes, my Putu Mayam Lady is also Indian.

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