Sweet Kozhakattai (Modak)

Srilatha Dessert, South Indian Leave a Comment


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Sweet Kozhakattai (Modak)
Sweet kozhakattai (modak in Hindi) is a delicious sweet dumpling made of rice flour outer cover, filled with a sweet coconut and jaggery mix, and steamed. A crowd pleaser, it's especially a favorite of Ganesha, the God who removes obstacles in Hindu mythology, it is offered in odd numbers on Ganesha's birthday, celebrated all across India on Ganesh Chathurthi day. This festival also officially marks the beginning of the festival season for Hindus all over the world, sometime in August, and ending with Navratri around November time frame. There are different versions of this sweet - steamed (this recipe), fried, filled with a sweet filling, or a spicy filling, simply made spicy with chili powder and made into tiny balls and steamed, it's a versatile dish. In this recipe, we will see the simple sweet-filled kozhakattai, as it's called in Tamil language. It's made in most regions in India, known as modak, and kadubu in Kannada language in Karnataka.
Course Dessert
Cuisine Indian, South Indian
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 7 minutes
Passive Time 1 hour to soak the rice
Servings
kozhakattais
Ingredients
Filling (Pooranam) Ingredients
Course Dessert
Cuisine Indian, South Indian
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 7 minutes
Passive Time 1 hour to soak the rice
Servings
kozhakattais
Ingredients
Filling (Pooranam) Ingredients
Instructions
  1. To make the outer covering, we need to soak the rice for an hour or so, and grind it into a batter, in the consistency of dosa batter. I completely forgot to take pictures at this stage, so just take my word for it ok? Soak the rice after washing in water for about an hour
  2. While the rice is soaking, let's make the pooran (filling)
  3. Heat a pan, and add 1 tablespoon of water, and add the jaggery
  4. When the jaggery melts (about 3-4 minutes), strain it through a sieve to remove any impurities and add back to the pan
  5. Now add the coconut, and start mixing
  6. Initially, it'll be a bit liquidy, butkeep stirring until it comes together without sticking to the sides
  7. Remove the pooran to a plate and let it cool; when cool enough to handle, make it into small gooseberry sized balls, and keep ready
  8. Now, grind the batter to dosa batter consistency
  9. Heat a kadai/vaanali, add 1/4 cup of water and a couple of spoons of oil
  10. To the batter, add a tsp of oil, and two tablespoons of milk, a pinch of salt, and mix well
  11. When the water in the pan is hot, add the batter and stir on low heat until it becomes a non-sticky dough like consistency; remove to a plate to cool, and when cool enough to handle, knead it really well like chapathi dough
  12. Keeping the dough covered in a wet cloth/napkin so it doesn't dry up, pinch off pieces of dough, and make smooth round balls of a small lime sise
  13. Now we have the outer covering and filling ready
  14. Grease both your hands generously with oil, and start making the outer covering Watch video attached to see how to make form the dumplings
  15. Take each of the dough balls, and start pinching a half inch width all around, making it like a disc, with your thumb and forefinger
  16. Now with your thumb, make a dent starting at the center, turning the dough ball and making it into a flat/hollow cup
  17. Place a filling bit inside
  18. Gather the dough around to make a small beak-like dumpling, and seal
  19. Make all the kozhakattais this way, and place in an idli steamer plate
  20. Heat water in an idli pot/pressure cooker (about 1 inch of water), place the idli plate on it, and steam for 7 minutes
  21. Turn off the heat, and remove to a serving plate
  22. Delicous kozhakattais are ready to be devoured!
Recipe Notes

Alternative method to making the outer cover:
You can use store bought rice flour. To make the dough, heat 1 cup of water (for 1 cup of rice flour), add a tablespoon of oil, a pinch of salt, and mix the rice flour gently into the water, and make the dough, on low heat. Dough will come together in a few minutes. Turn the heat off, and cool it before kneading. Proceed with the rest of the steps as above.
I always used to make it like this, but always ended up with dry, cracking shells. My friend told me to try this recipe, and I am glad I did because we ended up with the best, moistest kozhakattais!

I have some good memories of those days before my marriage, when every ganesh chathurthi, all of us girls would help mom make these delicious sweets in the tens, as we were a big family. Mom always made the maavu (outer covering), and the filling, and our job was to put them together.

A story:
When we were kids, my mother used to tell us a story, a famous story about this delicous dessert. It was about a man who's newly married, goes to his mother-in-law's house (minus the wife), and she serves him kozhakattais. Our man, who has never had them before, loves them and asks her what they're called. Since it's a strange and new name, he recites it on the way back to his home so he'll remember to tell his wife so she could make them for him. He reaches a stream, and a man before him jumps over the stream while saying "Athiribacha". Our idiot also says the same term to jump across the stream, and forgets kozhakattai, instead, reciting athiribacha all the way home. He goes home, and tells his wife that she should make him...athiribacha.
The poor wife has no clue what he's talking about, and tells him she doesn't know how to make it. He thinks she's lying to get out of making them, beats her, and goes out in a huff. The wife sits at home crying her eyes out, wondering what kind of an idiot she's married to. The husband comes back home eventually, just in time to listen to his neighbor asking his wife why her face is swollen like a...that's right, a kozhakattai! And our man jumps in joy. "That's it, it's kozhakkatai". He apologizes for hitting her, and the long-suffering wife makes them for him after this, and all is well!
We used to listen to stories like this, and didn't think anything of them. Only now, I wonder what kind of message stories like this are propagating for generations, making wife-beating an accepted norm!

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