Pillayar chaturthi is one of the most popular Hindu festivals celebrated in India. Indian festivals revolve around food. Every festival has its own set of food that goes along with it. The most important item prepared for this Pillayar chaturthi is sweet kozhukattai or modakam/modak. Every part of India makes modak in a slightly different way and there are several varieties of it. The recipe here is for the sweet kozhukattai that is made as a Neiveydhiyam/offering in southern India.
My mom, my Mil and almost everyone I know of have been making the sweet kozhukattai covering out of rice flour until few years back. My mother taught me this recipe to make the outer covering using ground rice batter and it makes THE SOFTEST KOZHUKATTAI you would have ever had. Do try to make this recipe this year for the Pillayar chaturthi and let me know how it turned out.
I make my kozhukattais very small (bite size). Why? Because that is how my paternal grandmother always made them. She was the best and fastest kozhukattai maker I have ever known of. She would make hundreds of kozhukattai’s within an hour and we would not even know how she did it. I follow my grandmother’s recipes and kitchen skills a lot in my cooking. Talking about her makes me miss her and home more than ever. So here goes my sweet kozhukattai recipe, a tribute to the greatest cook (and kozhukattai maker) My Grandmother.
Preparation time – 1 hr plus 2 hrs to soak the rice.
Cooking time – about 1-2 hrs (depending on how quickly you can make the mould)
Difficulty level – hard
Ingredients – (Makes around 50 small kozhukattai’s)
For the filling –
- Grated coconut – 1 and ¼ cup
- Jaggery (powdered) – ¾ cup
- Cardamom powder – ½ tsp
- Ghee – 1 tsp
For the outer covering-
- Rice (regular raw rice) – 1 cup
- Oil – 2 tbsp
- Salt – ½ tsp
Procedure – To make the puranam/sweet filling –
- Mix the grated coconut and the jaggery in a heavy bottom pan and cook on a slow flame. The jaggery would slowly melt and incorporate itself with the coconut. Keep mixing until it forms a ball like mass.
- Add the cardamom powder and the ghee and mix well. Take it off the flame and let it cool.
- Once it cools down to a tolerable temperature, make tiny balls out of it. The balls should be rolled tight and evenly. If for some reason, at this stage the ball does not form well because the puranam is too watery, get it back on flame and cook it down for few more minutes on low flame. Again repeat the same process and make the puranam balls.
- This can be made the night before the festival and left covered outside.
To make the outer covering –
- Soak the rice for couple of hours. Grind it into a very smooth batter adding the salt and enough water. The batter can be made the night before the festival and left inside the fridge. This has to be stored inside the refrigerator, or otherwise it will ferment and become sour.
- On the day of making the kozhukattai, remove the batter from the refrigerator. Heat a wide heavy bottom pan with about ½ cup of water and the 2 tbsp of oil. Let it come to a boil.
- Now add the batter to the boiling water/oil mixture and mix well. Keep the flame low and keep mixing. Slowly, the batter will start to thicken and it will form a ball like mass. Keep mixing to avoid the formation of any lumps. Once it forms a good ball like mass, switch off the flame and keep it covered for few minutes.
- Once it cools down a bit, slowly use your hands and mix it well. Keep your hands well oiled to avoid the batter sticking to your hands. Keep the covering always covered with a wet kitchen cloth or a tight lid.
To make the kozhukattai –
- Make small balls out of the covering. These should be larger than the size of the puranam filling balls.
- Now start making the cup to fill the inside with the puranam. To make the cups, start by pinching the outside of the ball. Once you flatten it all the way around, lay it on your palm and flatten the inside. This will take the form of a cup. Make sure your palms are well oiled (use gingelly oil); otherwise you will end up with a sticky mess.
- Once you make the cup, get the puranam inside it. Now close the cup and pinch the top of it to ensure that it sealed well. Do the same with the rest of the flour and puranam.
- Steam it in greased idli plates or idiyappam plates for 10 to 12 mins. Let it cool down a bit and then transfer it to a container. Do not pack it too tightly. Store it in a spacious container. To check for doneness, check the sweet kozhukattai for a shiny glossy look. Once they are glossy you know they are done.
Notes and tips –
- Do not add any water when making the puranam. The jaggery will let out enough water to make it into a semisolid mass.
- Making the kozhukattai with the ground batter ensures crack less covering. It is so smooth that making the moulds gets very easy. If you are having trouble making the cup for the mould, don’t fret. It takes a good practice and you will master it once you make it couple of times. At any cost ensure that the kozukattai is closed entirely, otherwise the filling will run all over the place when steaming.