Festival Recipes, Palakkad Iyer Recipes, Snacks, South Indian, Tiffin, Vegan

Uppu Kozhukattai – Savory Modak

Life in the village is more joyful during festival times. You get to taste pooja offerings from temples and neighbors. I used to particularly look forward to Ganesh Chathurthi when one of my favorite items was made – Kozhukattai. I cherish the sweet ones. Along with the sweet ones, mami (my neighbor) would make savory kozhukattais too. As a kid, I was not fond of savory items. With Ganesh Chathurthi approaching, I remembered and missed mami’s Uppu Kozhukattai (savory kozhukattai). A bit of googling and checking for recipes and I made my version of uppu kozhukattai. This is offered to Lord Ganesh on his birthday along with the sweet kozhukattai variety. The salty ones are shaped differently so that it is easy to distinguish between the two varieties. I warn you that you need to have at least an hour and a half in hand to make these steamed delights. So here is uppu kozhukattai.

Ingredients:
For Dough:
Appam/Idiayappam podi (rice powder available in leading markets) – 2 cups
Water – 2-1/2 cups
Salt  as needed
Sesame oil – 1 tsp

Soaked dal and chilliesFor Filling:
Urad dal (Black/white) – 1/2 cup
Chana dal – 1/2 cup
Green chili – 1
Dry red chili – 1
Hing – a pinch
Jeera – 1 tsp
Grated coconut – 1/2 cup

Dill leaves finely chopped (optional) – 1/4 cup
Salt as needed
Oil (coconut/sunflower) – 1 tsp
Curry leaves – 1 sprig

Method:
Soak the dals for one hour. Grind along with the chilies, hing, and salt to a coarse paste. Use very little water. The paste should not be watery. Make lemon-sized balls out of this coarse paste. Place in an idli stand and steam in a cooker for about 15 mins. Turn off and take out the steamed dal. Let it cool for couple of minutes. Use your hands to crush them into small pieces. Ensure that there are no lumps.

crush the steamed dal

Keep a wok on fire, pour oil and splutter mustard seeds. Add curry leaves and then add the crushed steamed dal pieces and stir for 2 minutes. Turn off fire. Crush jeera and add this and grated coconut to the cooked dal mixture. If you are adding dill leaves, add them now. Mix well and keep aside.
Tip: Always make the filling first then make the dough for the outer covering. This ensures that the rice dough does not get dried up.

Take the rice powder in a wide vessel. Add salt. In a pot, boil water to boiling point (bubbling hot). Carefully add small quantities of boiling water to the rice powder. Stir using a flat ladle, mix well, to make a soft, smooth, elastic, half-cooked dough. Be very careful with the amount of water you add. Towards the end, use your hands to roll the dough into a tight yet smooth, elastic, and pliable mass. Cover the vessel in which the dough is kept with a clean and moist cloth. This is to avoid the surface drying up.

Grease your hands lightly with some sesame oil. Take small lime-sized quantities of the rice dough and use your palms to make small rounds. Use your fingers to flatten the balls to make small cups (about 2 inches diameter). When you flatten to make cups, make sure that the thickness of the dough is even. Take about a teaspoon of the steamed dal filling and place it towards one half of the flattened dough. Take the other half of the flattened dough and carefully bring the edges together to seal and make a half moon shaped stuffed pouch that is sealed from the edges properly.

Repeat to make more such kozhukattais. I find so much joy in making kozhukattai. It takes so much care, focus, and attention to make a good looking kozhukattai. What else can be a better gift to God and your loved ones than your time and attention?

When you have finished making all of them, place them carefully in a steamer/pressure cooker (without weight). It is okay if they are placed one on top of the other but ensure none of the kozhukattai touches the edges of the steamer. Steam in medium heat for about 10-15 mins. Open the lid. Well-cooked kozhukattais will look glossy but would have turned pale in color. Take out from the steamer and wait to cool (2 mins). Kozhukattais will be sticky if you handle them immediately after taking out of the steamer. So ensure that you wait for a couple of minutes.

DSC08959

Soft uppu kozhukattais are ready.

Notes: It is very important that you use the right kind of raw rice powder for this recipe. Otherwise, your kozhukatai might break or become hard. It should be raw rice that is finely powdered and not a coarse powder.
Always make the filling first then make the dough for the outer covering. This ensures that the rice dough does not get dried up.
Remember to lightly grease the steamer plate/idly tray in which you arrange the kozhukatai for steaming. This ensures that they don’t stick to the plate.
After the kozhukatais are steamed, turn off the heat and take out the plate/idly tray of kozhukatai. Let it cool off a bit. Wait for a couple of minutes before you touch them because they would be delicate due to all the steam and and heat and tend to break easily.

For modaks that will stay soft and fresh for more than 24 hours, you can follow another method to make the dough. This is explained here.
You can also make a different filling by substituting the urad and chana dal with mung dal.

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Breakfast, Festival Recipes, Palakkad Iyer Recipes, Snacks, South Indian, Tiffin, Vegan

Ammini Kozhukattai (Steamed rice balls)

Soft and chewy steamed rice balls with a tadka and grated coconut. An easy and yummy snack item also made during Ganesh Chathurthi. This dish is also made on the occasion when small children start crawling and crosses the doorstep (vashal padi). Kids of this age would be teething and Ammini Kozhukkattais are a safe option to bite into, any day much better than plastic teethers.

Ingredients:
For Dough:
Rice flour: 1 cup
Water: 2 cups
Salt as needed
Sesame oil: 1 tsp

For Seasoning:
Coconut oil: 1 tbsp
Mustard: 1 tsp
Urad dal: 1tsp
Chana dal: 1tsp
Curd chili/Red chilies: 1 or 2
Curry leaves: few
Asafetida/hing powder: ¼ tsp
Grated coconut: 1 tbsp (optional)
Milaga podi/Gun powder/Chutney powder (optional) – 2 tbsp
Salt to taste

Preparation Time: 25 mins
Cooking Time: 25 mins
Makes 2 cups of ammini kozhukkattai

Method:
Heat a teaspoon of sesame oil in a wide pan. Add one cup of water and salt and bring to boil. Mix the rice flour with a cup of water and add to the boiling water. Keep stirring continuously.

When you can the dough leaves the sides of the pan and forms a thick lump, remove from the stove.

Alternatively, you can make the dough by adding boiling hot water to the rice powder, stir, and make the dough. This method is effective but you need to ensure that the water is boiling hot. The idea is to ensure that the dough is half cooked at this stage. If not, the dough will not become soft and pliable to work on.

Let the dough cool for 10 minutes. Smear a little oil in your palms and knead the dough. Take small quantities of the dough and make small marble-sized balls.

Place the rice balls in an idli tray and steam in a steamer or pressure cooker for 20 minutes. Allow to cool.

Heat a tsp of oil in a pan and crackle mustard, urad dal, chana dal and the curd chillies. When the mustard crackles, add hing and curry leaves. Add the steamed kozhukatais and stir for 5 minutes. Stir carefully ensuring that the kozhukatais do not break. Add freshly grated coconut and milagi podi (optional). Turn off and serve with coconut chutney. This is a healthy breakfast/snack item as it is steamed.

Notes:
Remember to lightly grease the steamer plate/idly tray in which you arrange the ammini kozhukatai for steaming. This ensures that they don’t stick to the plate.
After the kozhukatai are steamed, turn off the heat and take out the plate/idly tray of kozhukatai. Let it cool off a bit. Wait for a couple of minutes before you touch them because they would be delicate due to all the steam and heat and tend to break easily.

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Festival Recipes, Palakkad Iyer Recipes, Snacks, South Indian, Sweets, Tiffin, Vegan

Modakam, Madura Kozhukkatta (Sweet Dumplings)

Sweet dumplings, a favorite of Lord Ganesha, a special offering on Ganesh Chathurthi.

modakam

DSC08971Ingredients:
For Method 1 (Best results):
Raw Rice – 1 cup
Water – 2 cups
Sesame oil – 1/2 tsp
Salt a tiny pinch

For Method 2 (Easier/Faster):
Rice Flour – 1-1/2 cups
Water – 1 -1/2 cups
Salt a tiny pinch

For Filling:
Jaggery – 3/4 cup
Water – 1/2 cup
Coconut (grated) – 1 cup
Cardamom – 1 teaspoon
Sesame seeds – 1 teaspoon (optional)

Preparation Time: 1 hr
Cooking Time: 20 mins

coconut

Method:
Let’s make the filling first. Dissolve the jaggery in water and place it on the stove. Let the jaggery melt. Strain this solution to remove impurities.
Heat this in a thick bottom pan until the jaggery syrup becomes frothy and thick. Add grated coconut. Mix well until the mixture turns thick.
Turn off and add cardamom powder and sesame seeds.
Tip: Always make the filling first then make the dough for the outer covering. This ensures that the rice dough does not get dried up.

Now, to make the dough for the outer covering, follow either of the two methods.

Method 1: Wash and soak the raw rice in 1 cup of water for at least 3-4 hours. Drain the water and set it aside. This water can be used while grinding.
In a mixer, blend the soaked and drained rice into a smooth paste. You may add small quantities of the water that was used to soak the rice. You need to ensure that the ground rice is a very smooth and lump-free paste.
Heat a heavy bottomed wok and add a cup of water into it. Bring it to boil. Add a speck of salt and 1/2 a tsp of oil to this water.
When the water is bubbling and hot, turn the flame to low and gently pour/transfer the finely ground rice batter. Keep stirring while you do this. Parts of the batter starts to thicken and you would need more strength to stir the mixture. Keep stirring, turning the batter to all sides. Do not take your attention away even for a second or the batter will stick to the bottom of the vessel. In about 3-4 mins, you will notice that the batter has become a thick and soft lump.
Turn off the fire. Close the vessel with a lid and keep it aside for about 5 minutes to let the dough be cooked in residual heat inside the vessel.
After 5 minutes, remove the lid and using the ladle, mix the dough well and transfer it to a large bowl/plate. Use your hands to knead the dough while it is still warm. Grease your hand with a dab of sesame oil and knead the dough to a smooth and pliable dough. Cover with a wet cloth or air tight lid. This is to prevent the dough from turning dry.

Notes: This dough gives the best result and the modaks made from this dough retain moisture and stay soft and fresh for more than 24 hours.

Method 2: Take rice flour in a wide vessel.
In a pot, boil water to boiling point (bubbling hot). Carefully add small quantities of boiling water to the rice flour. Ensure that the water is boiling hot when you add it to the rice flour. Otherwise the dough will not get cooked properly.
Stir using a flat ladle, mix well, to make a soft, smooth, elastic, half-cooked dough. Be very careful with the amount of water you add.
When the dough is tight and soft, stop adding water. Use your hands to roll the dough into a tight yet smooth and elastic mass. Ensure that there are no lumps in the dough.

Notes: This dough is easier to prepare. The modaks made from this dough are soft when fresh but tend to get slightly harder after 5-6 hours.

To make kozhukattai/modak:
Smear sesame oil or ghee on your hands. Take some rice dough (medium lemon sized) into your palm. Make a small ball of the dough and flatten them into small cups using your thumbs.

rice-cups

Take a spoon of the coconut jaggery filling and place it in the middle of the flattened dough.

filling-in-cups

Cover the sides while ensuring the filling is safely cocooned with the soft rice dough covering the filling from all sides.

close the cup

Repeat to make more.

Mould and filling

Place the dumplings in the steamer/idli tray of a pressure cooker (without weight) and steam for 10-15 mins. Remember to lightly grease the steamer plate/idly tray. After 10-15 mins, turn off the stove, carefully take out the plate/tray of modaks. Wait for a couple of minutes before you touch them because they would be delicate due to all the steam and and heat and tend to break easily. Let them cool off a bit and take out gently and place on a serving plate.

Health Benefits/Alerts:
This is a delicious and healthy dessert as it is steamed and oil usage is minimal.

Notes:
Always make the filling first then make the dough for the outer covering. This ensures that the rice dough does not get dried up.
Remember to lightly grease the steamer plate/idly tray in which you arrange the modaks for steaming. This ensures that they don’t stick to the plate.
After the modaks are steamed, turn off the heat and take out the plate/idly tray of modaks. Let it cool off a bit. Wait for a couple of minutes before you touch them because they would be delicate due to all the steam and and heat and tend to break easily.

Trivia:
The filling by itself is delicious and hard to resist. Modakam moulds are available in the market these days. Those of you who have trouble making the rice cups can try out the modakam mould.

Addendum: An alternative way of making the rice dough yields excellent results but is slightly

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