Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Kozhakattai / Modak / Rice Dumplings

Ganesh Chathurthi & kozhakattais are synonymous for me... I just love both the sweet & savory versions. There's a lot of information out there about this festival, so I am just going to post the recipes for making these delicious dumplings. Shall post the pictures after the festival.

Last year, for this festival, I was in Tokyo, Japan and we had a wonderful time with our friends at home. We organized a Ganesh Chathurthi / Farewell (to us) pot-luck (appetizers only!! - more about that in another post) party. I didn't have a wet grinder, nor did I have fresh coconut. The party was the next day and I was struggling to make the vella kozhakattais!!! Imagine my horror, when the first batch went into the cooker as modaks and came out as idlis!!! Made emergency calls to my mother and realized I was going about it all wrong (read how at the end of the post)!!! Once, that was taken care of making the rest (about 50) was a breeze!!! Needless to say, the modaks were the talk of the party - because they were delicious & of course, because of all my mis-adventures!!!

Rice - 3 cups
Oil - 2 tbsp
Salt - a pinch

Sweet Filling
Grated coconut - 1.5 cups
Jaggery - 3/4 cup
Water - 1/4 cup
Cardamon - a big pinch

Savory Filling
Urad Dal - 1/2 cup
Ginger - 1 inch
Green chili - 2
Curry leaves - 2 stalks
Salt to taste
Garnish - hing & mustard

Sweet Filling
Heat water in a pan, add the jaggery. When all the jaggery is dissolved, remove from stove, strain into another clean vessel.
Add cardamon and heat jaggery syrup for a minute.
Add grated coconut and keep stirring. Remove while it is moist.
Make equal-sized balls and keep covered.

Savory Filling
Soak urad dal for 1 hour.
Drain water completely and grind along with ginger, green chili & curry leaves to a thick and chunky consistency.
Garnish with hing and mustard
Make balls / discs and steam (in idli plates) for 5 mins.
Knead all the steamed balls / discs together.
Press into ovals about 1-2 inches long and 1-2 cm thick, keep covered.

Rice Dough
Soak rice overnight.
Grind to a smooth batter (thinner than dosa batter). Add about 1.5 - 2 cups water.
Add salt.
Heat oil in a heavy skillet, pour the batter in and start stirring. Keep stirring till the batter changes color & forms a ball.
Separate into 2 halves and keep covered.

Making Vella Kozhakattai
Take a dish with some water and add a tsp of oil to it.
Apply oil on your palms, take one half of the rice dough and knead well.
Make equal-sized balls - about the size of a small lemon.
Take a ball of dough and place in one palm, with the other (hand's) thumb make a hole in the center. Use your fingers to make a shape like a muffin cup.
Put one sweet filling ball into this cup, and seal. Close the rice dough cup towards the center, remove any excess dough. Form a small tail - kudumi.
Put in a greased (or non-stick) idly plate.
Steam for 5-8 mins.

Making Savory Kozhakattai
Take a dish with some water and add a tsp of oil to it.
Apply oil on your palms, take one half of the rice dough and knead well.
Make equal-sized balls - about the size of a small lemon.
Place a ball of dough in one palm, and with the fingers of the other hand make an oval shape.
Put a savory filling oval into this, and seal - sidewards, to form a half-circle.
Remove any exces dough.
Put in greased (or non-stick) idly plate.
Steam for 5-8 mins.

Kozhakattais are done if they look shiny. The dish with oil / water combination is essential to making these delicious dumplings. Wet your palms / fingers occasionally to make sure that the dough doesn't get sticky. Make sure that the rice dough and sweet & savory fillings are always kept covered, else they'll dry up.

There will be some rice dough extra. Don't worry, no need to waste it!!! Here's what you can do with it. Garnish the left-over rice dough with mustard, crushed red chillies and finely chopped curry leaves. Make small balls and steam for 5-6 mins. You have an instant snack!!!

For those looking to make modaks, but cannot soak & grind rice or do not get fresh grated coconut. Here's another way to make this -

Takes 2 cups rice powder & a pinch of salt, make thin dosa consistency batter, put on stove, add a little oil. Keep stirring till the batter changes color, thickens & forms a ball. After this follow recipe above to make the modak. (I poured boiling hot water into the rice powder and mixed it well to form a ball. Do this and you'll get idlis instead of modaks!!!)

If you are using coconut powder, frozen or dehydrated coconut, then soak coconut in hot water for 2-3 minutes, drain well and then follow recipe above to make the sweet filling. This removes the oil from the coconut, hence you get a fresher taste.

The modaks are participating in Krishna Jayanthi -Ganesh Chathurthi event hosted by Purva.


Anonymous said...

Hi Geetha,
My daughter called to talk to me (rather to get the method of preparing kozhakattais), but could not reach me. So, she surfed the net & found ur recipe. Ur style is simple and sincere. It inspires even people without an inclination, to try out ur recipes. My good wishes to you on this festive occasion.

Indian Khana said...

Hey Geetha, first time here and reading such a wonderful post...you have such detail method of making modak...thts really interesting...and Thanks for the wonderful entry

Purva Desai said...


Thank you for the delicious entry. Kozhakattai or Modak looks really lip smacking

Geetha said...

@anonymous - Thank you, glad ur daughter found my recipe helpful!!

Priti - thank you! and pls keep coming...

Purva - thanks!