The very first memory if having a steaming hot dimsum was in a restaurant in Bangalore just after I was married. I remember that I really loved the taste of the filling, combined with the soft elastic outer cover, almost stuck with the filling, and dipped in a red fiery sweet sauce in a teeny white ceramic cup, I was transported to heaven. It always strikes me as to why appetizers always taste way better than the main course, and the reason why we only get to sample one or two??? The next time around, it was at Mainland China, Chennai. I remember the plate of steaming hot dumpling served with the fragrant Black Pepper Sauce. This time around I had been craving for this dish as usual and I decided it was really time to try it on my own. It is a slightly labour intensive procedure but the end result is definitely worth the effort. As a starter for a small party or at a dinner for friends, it is better to make the stuffing ahead and simply assemble it before hand. Easier said than done right???
INGREDIENTS FOR OUTER DOUGH:
2 Cups All Purpose Flour/ Maida.
1 Tsp Sesame Oil.
1 Tsp Salt.
INGREDIENTS FOR FILLING:
( I grated all the veggies in a mini food processor so the filling was very finely chopped. )
1 Cabbage julienned.
1 Carrot grated finely.
1/4 Cup fresh Sweet Corn kernels.
1/8 Cup Shredded Paneer.
6 Garlic Pods chopped finely.
2 Inch Ginger chopped finely.
1 Bunch Spring Onions chopped finely.
1 1/2 Tsp Pepper Powder.
Salt to taste.
3-4 Green Chillies Chopped very fine.
1 Tsp Sesame Oil.
Finely Chopped Cilantro.
For the outer dough mix all purpose flour, sesame oil, salt and water to make a pliable dough. Keep covered until assembly.
To prepare the filling, take a wok and allow to heat. Add the sesame oil and the chopped ginger, garlic and green chillies.
Allow a few minutes for the oil to get perfumed with the ingredients in it.
Now add the thinly chopped cabbage, carrots and the sweet corn. (I was out of paneer to I made my dumplings without them.)
Optionally you could run the veggies through a food processor and mash them up roughly to get a homogenous mass. I am guessing the guys at Mainland China do that!!!!
Allow all the veggies to mix in with each other. They should not be overcooked at this point as they will anyways getting steamed inside the filling.
Add pepper powder and salt and finally the shredded panner. Mix thoroughly.
Garnish with finely chopped cilantro.
This step alone could be prepared ahead and stored in an air tight container.
ASSEMBLING THE DUMPLINGS/DIMSUMS.
Roll out 4-5 balls with the all purpose flour dough and take out one. Keep the rest covered.
With a rolling pin make in to thin chappatis dusting with the flour.
Using a round cookie cutter or a steel tumbler, cut out rounds from the chappatis.
Flatten and roll out each little circle to make them thin and elastic.
Transfer the cover on to your left palm and spoon out some of the filling on to the centre.
Use sesame oil to line the inside of the top semi circle of the dumpling.
Use your fingers to pleat and pinch the edges together to form a closed dumpling.If this is too challenging, simply make the dumplings in to “half moons” ( bring the edges together) or “big hugs” ( almost like a kozhakattai.)
As you make each dumpling, transfer them directly to the idli plates generously brushed with sesame oil and arrange on them neatly so they do NOT stick to each other.Keep these dumplings covered too.
Once you have completed making the little dumplings, steam in medium heat for about 8 minutes.
Switch off and transfer to a casserole and serve HOT with Tomato Sweet & Spicy Dipping Sauce.
Keep the dough and dumplings covered at all times as they dry up very fast, as its the quality of maida to harden with exposure.
While making the fillings, you can also try stretching the little dough circles that you have cut up. If the consistency is just right, you might be able to make them a little longer just by stretching. Else you can always use the help of the rolling pin.
I served them up in Manchurian Sauce as a gravy side dish with Indo Chinese Fried Rice.
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.
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.