I used to make fun of my older cousin who couldnt spell 'zh'. I used to make him say all the words that had the 'zh' in it and we younger cousins had much fun in those 5 minutes till he got fed up. I thought the letter 'zh' or (ഴ) was special to Malayalam and not in other South Indian languages especially Tamil where instead the 'lla' sound was used. That was before I discovered Kozhukkatai. These are steamed rice dumplings popular in both sweet & savoury versions and belong to most South Indian cuisines whether you call them undi, modak, kozhukatta or whatever.
Right from the beginning I didn't like the name or the dish either -both sweet and savoury versions. So the dish never featured in the regular menu. I could manage the sweet ones sometimes but never the savoury ones. But as my tastebuds developed and so did the health fad, I found them a perfect fit within the diet plan. They are not made of fatty all purpose flour, but rice flour. (BTW, they are leaner, healthy cousins of momos). They are steamed and not deep fried. So I started making these and had fairy good ones using the rice flour. But the original ones are usually made by soaking and grinding rice. One such recipe I had bookmarked from Solai's Kitchen. I served it with Tomato Chutney or tomato thuvayal from her site to get a Chettinad Special Tiffin.
Kozhukattai /Steamed Rice Dumplings
Par Boiled Rice / Idly Rice: 1.5 cups
Salt: as per taste
Oil: 2 tbsp
Mustard Seeds: 1 tsp
Urad Dal : 1 tsp
Chana Dal: 1 tsp
Dried Red Chillies: 6 +/- broken
Fresh CurryLeaves: few
Fresh Grated Coconut: 1tbsp
Soak the rice in enough water for an hour. Grind to a courser paste in a mixer adding just enough water and salt. Add 1 cup more water to this. Keep aside.
In a deep pan, heat oil and add mustard seeds. When the mustard splutters add the urad and chana dals and let it brown. Add the curryleaves, red chillies and saute for a minute, then add the fresh coconut and saute for another minute.Then add the ground batter to the pan. Start stirring to prevent it from sticking to the bottom and burning. Continue cooking the batter and stirring with a ladle/spoon till the batter starts thickening and everything is mixed well. Remove from the stove when the batter is of a thick consistency and you can roll out balls out of it. Allow the batter to cool for a few minutes.
Make shapes or balls of the batter or kozhukattais. Steam these in a steamer/idly pot for exactly 5 minutes. Take out and serve warm with chosen side dish. These are flavoured and can be eaten without any accompaniments. I loved the dumplings as such also though.
Tomato chutney is often an accompaniment to this dish. I tried out the combination and it was gr8. I had tried the chutney or thuvayal recipe from Solai and it was also perfect for the regular breakfast items as well.
Tomatoes: 4 medium chopped
Red chillies: 3 +/- as per taste
CurryLeaves: handful divided
Oil: 1 tbsp divided
Mustard Seeds: 1/2 tsp
Urad dal: 1/2 tsp
Salt: as per taste
Chop the onions nd tomatoes into small pieces. Heat about 1/2-1 tsp oil in a deep pan and add few curryleaves and chillies.Saute for a second and add onions. Saute till they turn pink and then add the chopped tomatoes. Let it cook they the tomatoes are pulpy. Then remove from gas and blend to a fine paste when cooled a bit.Do the taste test and adjust the salt and other ingredients as needed.
Heat remaining oil in another pan and let mustard splutter and the dal brown. Add in the remaining curry leaves and then take it off the stove. Excess oil can be added to the chutney which will help keep it fresh for a longer period of time.
So enjoy filter kaapi with your tiffin while a hot plate goes to Tried & Tasted -Classic Chettinad Kitchen, an event by Lakshmi.