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.

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

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.


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, Everyday Simple Recipes, Indian, Snacks, South Indian, Tiffin, Vegan

Steamed Red Poha Dumplings

A simple steamed breakfast/tiffin item that I learned from this blog.

aval kozhukattai

Red beaten rice flakes (aval/poha) – 2 cups
Grated coconut – 1 cup
Oil – 1 teaspoon
Mustard – 1/2 teaspoon
Chana dal – 1 tablespoon
Urad dal – 1 tablespoon
Asafoetida powder – 1/4 tsp
Curd chillies/green Chilies/dried red chilies – 2
Curry Leaves – 1 sprig
Salt to taste

Wash the poha and soak it in clean water for about half an hour. Drain out all the water and keep aside.

Red Poha Kozhukattai doughHeat oil in an iron wok and add mustard. When the mustard starts to crackle, add chana dal, urad dal and asafetida powder. If you are adding curd chilies, add at this stage. When the dals turn light brown, add chopped green chilies/red chilies and curry leaves. Add the wet poha, add salt and mix well. Add grated coconut and mix. Ensure that you keep the flame low.

When the mixture cools down a bit, take a lemon-sized dough and make smooth round/oval balls (kozhukattai). Keep the balls in an idli plate and steam cook for about 5-7 minutes.

Serve with sambar or any chutney.

P.S.: You may use normal poha (white poha) also for this recipe. You would need to cut down the soaking time because white poha flakes are usually very light and soak easily.

Breakfast, Everyday Simple Recipes, Snacks, South Indian, Tiffin, Vegan


What your mother cooks for you always holds a special place in your heart. Everyone has a long list of items that they love about their mother’s cooking. I have my list of items too, right from the jeeraka vellam (jeera/cumin seeds flavored water) that she makes to unni appam, elai ada, avilu vilayichathu (sweet beaten rice), ada dosa, uluva dosa, uthappam, sambar, and the list grows. She has a very bad sweet tooth which she has passed on to me. So when making evening snacks, mostly she would stick to something sweet and she has ample support from me.

My mom’s sweet unni appam is well known among the friends and family circle. She had a salt equivalent to the sweet unniappam. This used to be made when she had exhausted options/ingredients. She would mix a little bit of churned curd to leftover idli batter, add some chopped onions, some garnish of curry leaves and coriander and fry this batter in oil. For lack of a better word, we used to call it morappam. Morappams had long been forgotten after I moved out of my parents’ home. It took me a trip to Chennai to revive the morappam memories.

The best thing about visiting a new place is getting the feel and taste of the local culture and cuisine. During my recent trip to Chennai, I gorged on fried paniyarams (the humble household morappam), Vazhappoo Vadai (Banana flower vadai), adai and avial, and other local specialities. Well, adai and avial has already been posted in Samagni. Adai and avial as a combination was new to me. When I thought about it, I realized it is a very clever combination of vegetables, dal, and carbs, a wholesome meal.

I tasted 2 varieties of paniyaram – one plain and the other spicy. I am told there are sweet paniyarams as well. Somebody please share the recipe for sweet paniyaram and vazhapoo vadai please!

Paniyarams are made in a frying pan that has pits. Batter is poured into these pits and steamed or fried. Made out of idli/dosa batter with or without extra ingredients, they taste great by themselves or when eaten with spicy chutney. They are a perfect monsoon snack and quick and easy to make.

Spongy Paniyaram

Idli batter – 250 gms
Onion – 1 big (finely chopped)
Green chilies – 2 (finely chopped)
Coriander – a bunch (finely chopped)
Curry leaves – 2 stalks (finely chopped)
Tomato – 1 (finely chopped) This is optional

Add a teaspoon of oil in a small kadai. When the oil gets heated, add mustard seeds. Once they crackle, add the finely chopped green chilies and shallots. Sauté for 2-3 mins.
Turn off the fire and let it cool a bit.
Once this seasoning cools down, add it to the idli batter along with chopped curry leaves and coriander leaves. Mix well.

Refer here for idli batter recipe.

Pour half a teaspoon oil into the paniyaram mold pits. Mix the batter well and pour small quantities of batter into the mold pits.

Cook them in a paniyaram mold

Cook in medium heat for a minute or more. When the sides turn brown, flip over using a wooden/steel stick. Ensure that both sides are cooked properly. Remove from fire. Serve hot with chutney.

This is the steamed variety hence healthier. If you would like your paniyarams deep fried, you could fill the paniyaram mold pits with oil and deep fry the batter. This is tastier and crispier.

Crunchy Paniyaram made from adai batter

I tried making paniyaram with adai batter and it turned out to be excellent. While paniyarams made with idli batter are spongy, adai batter paniyarams are crunchy and crispy. Do try them out or else make a trip to Chennai.