Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Steamed Sweet Dumplings "Kozhukattai"/ "Modak"

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Reason for 2 weeks of "non-existent" state -- 9 days of vacationing in scorching Florida, 2 days of recovering/relaxing, 2 days of suffering from bellyache and bathroom breaks because of these little dumplings. No, no they weren't a bad batch. They were so good that they promptly made me forget "All things in moderation" and turned me into a glutton.Ate a dozen of them and my belly simply couldn't deal with it.LoL. Kozhukattai as we call them in our tongue, is a dumpling that is made with rice flour dough and plenty of choices for fillings. This time though filling was made with sesame seeds and jaggery. Oh, this was made on Vinayaka Chathurthi(The "Elephant-Headed" God's Birthday, God of Goodwill and Prosperity) and relished by my folks.But mostly by me.
Story of how Lord Ganesha got his Elephant-Face -Once upon a time Goddess Parvati wished to take a bath. She created a boy from the dirt of her body and asked him to stand guard outside while she cleansed herself. Meanwhile, Lord Shiva, who frequently goes away for long periods of time to meditate and such returned home. When he tried to enter the house, the boy prevented him from doing so. In anger, Shiva(Who BTW is The Destroyer) cut off the boy's head. When Parvati saw this, she burst into tears. In order to console her, Shiva sent out his troops to fetch the head of anyone found sleeping with his head pointing to the north. They found an elephant sleeping thus and brought back its head. Shiva then attached the elephant's head to the body of the boy and revived him. He named the boy Ganapati, which means commander of his troops. He granted him a boon that everyone would worship him (Ganesha) before beginning any work. Hence, all Hindus worship Lord Ganesha prior to beginning anything auspicious.  
Significance of Lord Ganesha's Form - Ganesha's head symbolizes the Atman or the soul, which is the ultimate supreme reality of human existence, and his human body signifies Maya or the earthly existence of human beings. The elephant head denotes wisdom and its trunk represents Om, the sound symbol of cosmic reality. In his upper right hand Ganesha holds a goad, which helps him propel mankind forward on the eternal path and remove obstacles from the way. The noose in Ganesha's left hand is a gentle implement to capture all difficulties.
The broken tusk that Ganesha holds like a pen in his lower right hand is a symbol of sacrifice, which he broke for writing the Mahabharata(Epic). The rosary in his other hand suggests that the pursuit of knowledge should be continuous. The laddoo (sweet) he holds in his trunk indicates that one must discover the sweetness of the Atman(Soul). His fan-like ears convey that he is all ears to our petition. The snake that runs round his waist represents energy in all forms. And he is humble enough to ride the lowest of creatures, a mouse.

Now lets move on to the recipe-
Recipe Yields 25-30 Kozhukattai/Modaks
  • 1 1/2 Cups Rice Flour
  • 1  tsp Olive Oil or Ghee (Ghee is better)
  • 2 Cups Water
  • 1/8 tsp Salt
For the Filling:
  • 3/4 Cup White Sesame Seeds
  • 1 Cup Jaggery Shavings(Un-refined Brown Sugar, available at Indian Stores)
  • 1/4 tsp Cardamom Powder
  • Modak Mould (optional)
  • Wooden Spatula with a smooth cylindrical handle
  • Dry roast the sesame seeds on medium flame until they turn light brown in color.
  • Grind the Sesame Seeds along with Jaggery Shavings and Cardamom powder to a coarse powder.Set aside.
  • Bring the water to a roiling boil along with salt and oil.
  • Add the rice flour to a thick bottomed pan. 
  • Pour the boiling water little by little while continuously stirring the flour with the "wooden handle" of the spatula until a nice, firm,lump-free dough is formed. DO NOT make it runny. Close the pan with a lid.
  • Cool the dough until it can be handled with hand and knead it to make it a smooth dough.
  • Take a small amount of dough and make a smooth ball, about the size of a marble. There are a couple of ways to make these dumplings - Garlic Bulb shaped or Empanada Shaped. For Garlic Bulb Shaped Dumplings: Using both hands make a cup with marble-sized dough and fill it with a tsp of the sesame-jaggery filling. Bring the edges together and seal it shut. If using Modak Mould, press the bulb shaped dumpling to give it some nice ridges. For Empanada Shaped Dumplings: Pat the dough to form(Oil may be used to help it stretch out) a nice flat circle and add 1 1/2 tsp filling in the center. Fold and press the edges to seal it tightly. Using the forefinger to make indents at the edges.
  • Steam the dumplings for 10 minutes in a bamboo/ghee-greased stainless steel steamer and serve when warm or cold.
Makes 25-30 Sweet Dumplings.

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    1. Welcome back Lassie. Hope you are feeling better now. Kozhukattai looks super good and perfect !!

    2. wow, they have come out so well, i never knew there was a mould. I always thought people did it with hand and admired their perfection :)

    3. is there a reason why kozhukattais are served on this occasion? I wud have seen it on almost all the blogs i follow...needless to say I love em:)

    4. @AnOpenBook: Dunno for sure. But Lord Ganesha holds a sweet in his hand and it could be a ladoo or a modak. Maybe thats why.

    5. Wow..i love that mould ..Love its color too...Perfect looking kozhukattais Lassie

    6. Welcome back CL! Hope you are feeling better now.

      Those modaks look so cute and yumm!

    7. Dear, Kozhukattai looks very perfect..I have never used moulds..delicious kozhukattai..

    8. These look delicious. I have never seen them before. Very interesting information about the Hindu religion:)

    9. I never see the Modak moulds and never knew also that modaks can be made with the help of the moulds...thansk for th info...hope you are doing well now....

    10. These sound dangerous. And by dangerous I mean absolutely mind-blowingly delicious!

    11. Dear Lassie
      How are you?
      I never knew, there were molds for Modak too!!!
      Very nice description and photograph too. I am just forgetting to go to face book to see the daily pictures. Will see all at one go.
      Have a nice day

    12. Thanks for sharing the story of Lord Ganesha...I had never heard it...but I had always wondered about His elephant head...I like the mold you used for your dumplings, they look very nice.

    13. How are you dear? Feeling better now? I was amazed by the perfect shapes and I saw that you have used moulds. Well that doesn't take your creditability :-) Looks superb.
      Enjoyed reading the post
      Hamaree Rasoi

    14. oh they look great my bro in law loves these thanks for traveling with me LOL Rebecca

    15. Hey! What do I say??? My heart just went out for those amazingly tempting modaks...... The captures are so so yummilicious!!!!! It had been long since I came along.... But now after my trips & still busy days, I have managed to make it upto your space & few others..... I missed & still miss those days when I frequented.... Hugs)))))


    16. CL, wat a prefect looking modaks..feel like grabbing some..

    17. hope you are better by now. the modaks look so perfect and like others I also never saw moulds like this. Happy festival to you too.

    18. Hope you are better now..lovely modaks..looks so cute and yummy
      loved reading your post.

    19. J'adore ces raviolis mais je n'ai jamais osé en faire à la maison.
      Merci pour la recette.
      See soon.

    20. Aww so pretty..wish I could grab one such mold :-)

    21. Gorgeous modaks CL .It brings back my memories back home eating a handsful of them eventhough i made it for ganesh chaturthi,missing few things hmmmm :(

    22. haila we do get Modak mould, they are just perfect for me. The modak looks too aweee....ha ha now i know why could resist eating more...i would have done the same trust me, even though it had after effects :)

    23. I could have easily eaten a dozen of these dumplings too. Hope you are feeling better.

      I live in Florida and I can vouch that it is sweltering. Looking forward to cooler autumn weather.

    24. I love the cute shape of these dumplings and they sound just scrumptious!

    25. ils ont une très jolie forme et doivent être drôlement délicieux!!!
      bravo pour la réalisation
      bonne journée

    26. WOW - I could vey easily also have about a dozen of these in one sitting. They looks so delicious. As does everything else on your blog. Came acorss it today and I'm looking forward to coming back for more.

    27. This looks YUM! I mean really they look so cute and festive. I got many south Indian friends, and I'm putting this on my list of demand for them to meet. And if they don't agree I have your recipe.

    28. Hi ur modhaks looks so yummy!!!!!!!!!

      Please tell me where did u buy th modhak mould?

    29. @Aish:
      It was from Chennai. I forgot the name of the store but it was a pot and pan store. Plenty of stainless steel pots and pans and modak molds, in Anna Nagar. Hope this helps.

    30. Absolutely beautiful. Nicely done... hope u enjoy eating them,.eat one extra for me too.

    31. Happy Ganesh Chathurti, modakam looks so lovely!


    Thanks a bunch for your valuable comments and continued support.They are very much appreciated. Yes,like "Rain on Dry Land" and like "Oasis in Desert Sand".
    XoXo, Cool Lassi(e)