Uppu Kozhukattai is the prasadam for Vinayaka Chathurthi along with the Vella Kozhakattai and Ammini Kozhakattai. I love the Uppu Kozhakattai as its almost like a paruppu usili filled in the rice balls and then steamed in the pressure cooker. The Uppu Kozhukattais, I always felt were comparitively more easier to make as one makes the balls ahead and then stretch the outer dough over the balls to cover it.
As always the first part is the Outer Dough which is the base of the whole preparation. Keep this prepared Outer Kozhukattai Dough covered tight to preserve the moisture and warmth as this is imperative for easily working on this dough.
Soak the Bengal Gram and Urad Dhal for about 3 hours just as you would for Paruppu Usili.
I have used the proportion of 1/4 cup of bengal gram to 1/2 cup of urad dhal. If you want more numbers, you can extrapolate it to double the quantity.
Grind the bengal gram and urad dhal in the mixer with salt, green chillies and curry leaves with as little water as possible. The water added is important as this affects the final consistency of the urad dhal crumble.
It should not be ground too smooth but a little short of that, a little coarse. Add hing and a spoon of oil and mix it in well.
Place a seasoning kadai on the stove, add oil and mustard, When the mustard splutters, add it to the ground paste. Mix and in a few minutes add the grated coconut. (This is optional).
Grease 1 or 2 idli plates and fill the firm ground paste in the idli plates. Steam in the pressure cooker for 12 – 15 minutes. Switch off gas and remove the plates and allow to cool.
Transfer the cooked dhal idlis to a plate and pour 1 spoon of coconut/gingely/canola oil on them and slowly crumble them with your oiled fingers.
Try to do this when its still warm.
Now with the help of a oil greased hands again, press the crumbles in to 1 inch balls. Keep covered in a container to retain the moisture.
Follow the usual procedure of making little cups with the Outer Dough.
Place a urad ball in to the little modhak cups.
Close like a coconut and make a little tuft resembling a coconut.,
Keep your hands oiled when you are working with the Outer Dough.
Place the prepared modhaks in greased idli plates and steam in the pressure cooker for 12 minutes.
Switch off stove, and after a few minutes transfer to a casserole.
If you are not able to shape the crumble in to balls, do not fret. Simply pop a spoon, and fill in your modhak cups with the crumble and continue as usual to seal them. Making them in to balls makes it more easier to handle as there is no binding agent as such except the urad dhal.
Ammini Kozhukattais – I have no clue about the origin of that name and how we came about calling that delicacy that. I know that whenever we set out to make Uppu Kozhukattais and Vella Kozhukattais, we would normally have the outer dough leftover and so amma would always make these mini delicacies!!! In my heart, I am guessing she would purposely have more of the outer dough so we could make this !!! We have this scooped up in a little container, and eat them just like that. Many times I also love to have it as a side for curd rice along with pickle. The preparation is hardly more than 2-3 steps so here goes.
The outer dough of Kozhukattais have negligible salt. So take the dough and add sufficient powder salt and mix it in by kneading well. If you feel the dough is a little dry, add a few drops of coconut oil to your hands.
Make a smooth ball.
Greasing your hands, shape it in to smaller balls, say, the size of naphthalene balls and keep covered in a bowl.
Complete the dough by making small balls and arrange on greased idli plates.
Steam them in the pressure cooker without weight for 10 minutes on high. As they have already been cooked once, it will cook in steam pretty fast.
Once the cooker is switched off, wait for a few minutes and collect all the balls on the serving bowl.
In a seasoning kadai, add 2 spoons of oil. When hot, add broken urad dhal, mustard, green chillies, hing and curry leaves.
Drop over the kozhukattais and mix well.
Delicious Mini/Ammini Kozhakattais are ready to be served.
Serving Suggestions & Hints:
It`s a great dish to make along with your kids, as they love to roll the dough in to small balls.
Since it does not need a filling, there is no hard and fast rule on the shape.
Easy to make with rice flour and hence a very healthy fast preparation.
Cooked twice so its healthy for the toddlers as well as for older people.
These kozhukattais are best eaten plain all by themselves.
Another option is to soak it in steaming hot rasam and serve them as Rasam Balls or with Molagapodi and Gingely Oil.
Every year Vinayaka Chathurthi is celebrated all over the world as the day on which Lord Ganesha, the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi bestows his presence on this earth. Vinayaka Chathurthi in my home essentially marks the beginning of good times and of course all other festivals. In Madras, the entire shopping streets are filled with colourful umbrellas and lovely colourful statues of Ganeshas in all sizes and colours. Many people also prefer to buy the plain Ganeshas made of clay and decorate it with flower garlands. Amma and me used to go to PondyBazzar and she would let us choose the idol and the accompanying umbrella to go with it. One time I had a foldable umbrella that I had got during the chathurthi celebrations and refused to part with it for months!!! We would also get as assortment of fruits like wood apple, jamun fruit, apples etc and the signature pooja element which was a lovely green banana leaf, filled with “Arugampullu” and pink flowers. Laden with all this, we would come home excited to set up the mandal for the Lord.
Amma would have already cleaned and decorated the spot with lovely “maakolams“. Maakolam is different from the regular kolams that we use everyday outside out homes. Its simply rice soaked and ground to a fine paste and used to decorate the floors during weddings and festive seasons. The Kolam would be dry and Madurai amma would first place a wooden platform and cover it with silk. She would then gingerly place the Lord on the platform, decorate his neck with little garlands made of flowers and then place a dhoti around him. We would then finally position the colorful umbrella and the stage would be resplendent with his form. The naivedhyam would be Vella Kozhakattais, Uppu Kozhakattais and of course Ammini Kozhakattais. The fruits would be offered to him and Madurai amma would then start the pooja.
In the evenings, we would some times watch the procession of the Ganesha moving towards the beach. Many times, we would visit the nearby temples and get his blessings. Last year I made my own umbrella for the Lord, using sticks and colorful yarn. I also decorated my little silver Ganesha, in my pooja room with a cocktail umbrella!!!
There are essentially two ways of making the dough…One is by soaking the rice and grinding it, which is pretty elaborate but very tasty, and the other is using rice flour. I shall explain both the procedures below.
KOZHAKATTAI DOUGH BY SOAKING RICE:
1 cup of raw rice.
A pinch of salt.
Water as required.
Soak the raw rice for 2-3 hours and grind in the mixer or grinder to a smooth batter. It does not matter how much water you use as it gets cooked in it finally.
Pour the batter in to a kadai. Make sure that there are no clots and add 1/2 -3/4 spoon of salt and a spoon of coconut oil.
Switch on the stove setting it on medium low and keep stirring to avoid clots.
After a few minutes, you will find that the water content is rapidly used up to cook the rice batter, and it slowly thickens.
After a few more minutes, it will thicken and be cooked. The signs for that is you will find that when you stir, it comes together as a ball.
Also the whiteness of the raw rice will give way to a very slightly off white cooked rice ball.
Immediately transfer to a bowl and add a spoon of coconut oil.
With your hands, knead the ball inside the bowl by smoothing it and bring it together. This step is very integral as this is what binds the dough and takes away the stickiness.
This is a VERY IMPORTANT step and many people fail at this point not doing this. Please use gloves if needed and keep kneading the dough until you feel its a pliable dough that can be shaped easily with no dryness and no cracks.
At this point, the dough should be able to seamlessly shape in to a ball.
Set aside in the bowl and cover with a lid.
KOZHAKATTAI DOUGH USING RICE FLOUR:
1 cup Rice Flour.
2 cups of water.
A pinch of salt.
2 -3 Tsp Coconut Oil.
Gloves if required to knead slightly hot/warm dough.
Bowl to knead the dough.
Ktchen Towel/ Damp Paper Towel.
Please measure all ingredients ahead and keep everything required close at hand.
In a kadai, pour the water, add coconut oil and salt and allow to boil.
On spotting the first boil, immediately, simmer the stove and add the measured 1 cup of rice flour in to the water.
Use a whisk and remove all the clots quickly. This step is very helpful to act quickly so you have no clots.
With a spatula, rapidly stir in the mixture as if will thicken using the water to cook the rice.
As before, keep stirring until you see that the water is all gone and the entire batter scoops up in your ladle as a single mass.
Stir for a few more minutes until you are satisfied and the batter does not stick. This would happen ONLY if the water is not used up so do not fret.
Transfer to a bowl, add 1-2 Tsp of coconut oil and knead well to form a homogeneous ball.
This is a VERY IMPORTANT step and many people fail at this point not doing this. Please use gloves if needed and keep kneading the dough until you feel its a pliable dough that can be shaped easily with no dryness and no cracks. Add 1-2 Tsp oil if you require.
Keep this dough covered with a damp kitchen towel and cover the bowl with a lid. This is required to keep the dough moist and not dry out.
Now you are ready with the outer dough to start making Sweet and Salty Kozhukattais.
Pidi Kozhukattai is one of the oldest tiffin items that I remember my grandmother Maduraiamma making for me when I would come from school all hungry and ravenous. I would be waiting to eat the lovely white steaming hot balls of rice, smelling of hing and coconut and smother it well with her delicious Molagai Podi dripping with Idhayam gingely oil. YUM!!! Of course Madurai amma was always liberal with her use of coconut oil and coconut, but what I use is a definitely calorie scaled down version of the same. It`s very fast and simple and needs very little time for preperation. This is her recipe which she passed on to me through my amma, and here it goes for all of you…:)
Boiled Rice -2 cups
Coconut – 1/4 cup
Urad Dhal, Bengal Gram, Mustard, Curry Leaves, Red Chillis.
Soak boiled rice for two hours along with 2 green chillis.
Grind coarsely in the mixie along with salt and green chiilis adding only adequate water.
Add 2-3 spoons of oil to a kadai. Then slowly add the urad dhal and bengal gram and allow to wallow for a few seconds. When you begin to see them browning, add quickly the mustard and allow to splutter and finally add the curry leaves, red chillis and hing.
Immediately add the ground rice mixture and the dessicated coconut to the seasoning in the kadai. Keep stirring for a few minutes till you see the rice mixture slowly getting cooked and growing harder.
When you find it comes to a soft “upma” consistency, switch off the stove.
Grease the idli plates and shape this “upma” in to balls with your palms. Arrange the balls on the plates and stack the plates one above the other.
Steam the kozhukattais in the cooker just like the idlis – Switch on the stove on max till you see full steam and then simmer for 8 mins.
Switch off and allow to cool for 2-3 mins as the steam may harm your fingers.
Remove from plates and serve HOT with molagai podi or tomato chutney or hot tomato gravy.
Hint: This could be made more healthier by additionally soaking 1/2 cup of old fashioned oats along with the rice. The oats does not alter the taste but you also get your daily dose of fibre. Another option is to add “Flax Seed” or Powdered Flax.