The months from August till December are dangerous months for ‘weight-watchers’ for Indians. It is sadder when you are the kind whose weight gain shows up as inches round the middle! Lord Ganesha who is said to have a huge belly, and a good appetite has his birthday celebrated in a big way with many ‘offerings’ or ‘prasadam’. Oddly enough, this is the only festival that has a good amount of lean recipes too!
If you loved dumplings and had to abandon the thought of steamed dumplings because of gluten-intolerance, or coeliac disease, this festive delight is your answer. Known by various names such as kadubu, kozhakottai, modak or modakam, steamed dumplings are said to be Lord Ganesha’s favourite snacks and to celebrate His birthday, various types of kozhakottais are made. The most popular is the vella kozhakottai which consists of a jaggery and coconut filling inside the classic, steamed rice flour pockets. In Tamil Nadu and Palakkad Regions we also make a savoury equivalent which is not found in most other parts of India.
These gluten-free, savoury, steamed dumplings are called uppu kozhakottai. The covering remains the same – pockets made from dough out of cooked rice flour. The traditional recipe makes use of urad dal (adad dal/husked and split black gram lentils/ullundu/uzhundu). This time I decided to try a new variation. Instead of urad dal I used mung dal (moong dal/ mug dal/ split, husked, mung beans/payatham parippu). The taste, I felt was even better than the traditional fare.
Would you like to try one too? My sister uses the GF covering to make Chinese steamed dumplings and momos. If you are gluten intolerant and you have landed here, you might like to try this next time. If you do, tell me about it! Did you like it? If not, tell me what went wrong. The recipe is easy as long as you follow the proportions of rice and water correctly. Minor differences may arise depending on the variety of rice used but I am sure you will be fine!
If you like the traditional fare – Click here for the recipe of uppu kozhakottai made with urad dal. Most of the recipe below is copied from my earlier recipe as the covering remains the same. It is the filling that is new here.
Dish: Uppu Kozhakottai (Koyo-ko-tie) ~ Gluten free, steamed, savoury dumplings
Serves : 15 pieces
Raw rice (I use Kolam) – 1.5 cups
Water – 1.5 + 1.5 cups
Sesame oil – 3 tbsps. oil (can use sunflower/any neutral oil)
Salt – 1/2 tsp.
Mung bean lentils (Moong dal/Mug) – 1/2 cup
Water to cover the dal
Coconut oil – 1tbsp.
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp.
Chana dal/Split bengal gram – 1/2 tsp.
Green chilli – 1
A sprig of curry leaves
Fresh grated coconut – 3tbsp., just for the crunch and sweetness
Salt to taste
Pick, wash and rinse lentils.
Drain completely and add just enough water so that the mung beans cook without having any residual water after cooking. I added just enough to cover the beans. I normally use a pressure cooker and cook dal along with rice, which means, I cook for three whistles. Moong beans cook fast so you have to ensure that they are just cooked and not mashed through.
Let the cooked lentils cool to room temperature. If there is any liquid discard through a strainer.
Heat a tablespoon of coconut oil in a wok (or any other neutral oil if you like).
When hot, add mustard seeds and let them splutter. Reduce heat, add chana dal. Saute till pink.
Add curry leaves, and when they crackle add the cooled lentils.
Toss lightly, adding salt and let the mixture go absolutely dry. Mix with a delicate hand ensuring that the bottom does not burn.
Crush the green chilli with a little coconut and all it to the mixture alongwith the rest of the coconut. Toss well, lightly and let the mixture cool while you prepare the covering.
Soak rice in 1.5 cups of water for at least an hour.
Grind to a smooth paste with the water used for soaking. Do not add more water.
In a heavy bottomed vessel or wok, heat the oil. Add 1.5 cups of water and salt and bring it to a boil. Add a tbsp. of oil (optional).
Now pour the rice paste into the water stirring all the while to avoid lump formation.
You will not be able to avoid the lumps completely but keep stirring and if any lumps form on the sides of the vessel, scrape it back into the center.
Cook, stirring till all the liquid forms into a rough ball, leaving the sides of the vessel. It will take about 10 to 15 minutes on medium flame.
Cover with a tight lid and let the dough cook in residual heat without disturbing for another 10 minutes.
After 5 minutes, remove the lid and let the dough cool till warm enough to handle.
Turn onto a large ‘paraat’ or plate or working space. Grease hands lightly and knead the dough till firm, smooth but soft enough to shape.
Making kozhokottais or pockets: (Picture tutorial here)
Pinch a ball of dough about the size of a table tennis ball. Roll it between your palms to a smooth sphere. Flatten lightly and keeping it on a clean surface, keep pressing with light fingers to form a disc about 5 to 6 cms in diameter. The disc should be about 2mm in thickness.
Place a tablespoon of the filling in the center. Fold to a semi circle and press the sides of the semi circle to seal the opening.
Similarly form the rest of the kozhokottais.
Place the kozhokottais on a greased plate, plantain leaf or turmeric leaf, in a steamer and steam till the covering turns translucent and cooked. About 15 minutes.
If you do not have a steamer, heat water in a pressure cooker. Place a deep vessel filled upto 1/4 of its height with water. Now place the plate of kozhokottais over the vessel. Cover the cooker and steam for 15 minutes with the lid on and no weight, on moderate heat.
When cool enough to handle, remove the plate from the steamer/cooker. The kozhokottais are now ready to be served.
Traditionally had without any accompaniment and yet tastes good, but I like it with a dash of spicy szechuan sauce.