Saturday, September 11, 2010

Kozhakattai -- Modakam -- Steamed sweet rice dumplings

Happy Ganesh Chathurthi! It is the birthday of the Hindu elephant-headed god who is prayed to before starting anything new because he will remove the obstacles from your path.

In South India, devotees make kozhakattai during this festival because it is Ganesha's favourite sweet. It's a delicious steamed sweet rice dumplings stuffed with a caramel flavoured coconut mixture made with jaggery, an unrefined sugar. It has a sweeter, more intense flavour than molasses brown sugar. Its distinctive shape, a round ball with a pointy top which is called a mooku, nose, is the most fun part to make.

1 cup long grain rice
1 1/2 cups water (approx., add slowly because you may need less)
pinch of salt

1 cup fresh grated coconut
1/2 cup jaggery
1/4 tsp cardamom powder
1/2 tbsp ghee

2 tbsp oil in a bowl (to rub on hands when forming your modakams)

Soak the rice for an hour and grind very to a smooth consistency with a little pinch of salt, like dosai batter. Too much water will make the dough loose and sticky. If that happens add a little rice flour to thicken it up.

If you are pressed for time and can't soak the rice, just use rice flour the proportion is one cup flour to one and a half cup hot water. It may go up or down depending on the kind of rice used to make powder.
Put it in a pot on low heat and stir it until it forms a tight ball.This dough will lump up first and get hard to move around and will stick to the sides of your pot. You have to scrape it fast and try to bring it all together till it is sort of shiny and oily looking. Keep the ball in the pot and close it tightly as the steam will cook it more.

Filling (poornam)
To make the filling, dissolve the jaggery in little bit of water and stir it on medium heat until it starts to bubble. Be careful as it will splatter. Add the grated coconut and keep on stirring until all the water has evaporated and it comes together and forms a ball. If it is too runny add some ground almonds while stirring. Take out of pan and keep in a plate to cool.

Making your modakams
Take the dough and knead it until soft and roll into a 1/2" diameter cylinder. Pinch off a 1/2" size piece of dough and roll into a ball. Pinch the sides of the ball and press your thumbs into the center to form a bowl. Place a piece of the coconut jaggery mixture into the middle and close the dough around it and form a little "nose" at the top.  Steam it for five minutes. When the dough becomes shiny you know it is done.

May Ganesha bless you and your loved ones!


Suja Sugathan said...

Happy Ganesh Chathurthi..
looks so yummy, beautiful clicks

Vidhya said...

First time here. You kozhakattais look really yummy. said...

Yum! thanks for posting this for our reference!

Anonymous said...

I did not have any Kozhukattai this year too...

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