Uppu kozhakottai with moong-dal | Payatham Paruppu Kozhakottai

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.


Harini is a vegan food photographer, writer and recipe developer. She also loves feeding birds, reading, watching crime thrillers, and travelling amongst other things.

Previous Post
September 9, 2011
Next Post
September 9, 2011


  • Kalyan

    Just mouthwatering…looks so easy to prepare and delicious!

  • Spice

    missed the most imp. part of comment, love your photography 🙂

  • Spice

    Harini, I’m not sure if I ever left comment on your blog but today I have to….few days back I saw these dumplings with urad dal filling on some blog but wasn’t sure about it….boiling rice flour without any lumps was kinda blocking me but your words “you will not be able to avoid the lumps completely” is making me bookmark this recipe, will give it a try sometime….though Indian festivals are not good for any ones waistline we here in USA def. miss this time of the year….

  • BongMom

    I have never had these but with all that yumness what is not to love

  • Sanjeeta kk

    Indian festivals are dangerous to waistline..and get really jittery when MIL discuss with her sisters to discuss & decide upon the number of sweets they all will be making for the festival 🙂 But this dumpling will surely save my waistline and love all the versions of Kozhukattais.

    • Admin

      Especially, Navaratri and Diwali! Lots of calorie laden sweets and so many savouries that are irrestible!! 🙂

  • Nishi

    I love this!!! Yours looks sooo mouthwatering and tepting harini. BTW Congrats for winning the DMBGiT. That shot really deserved the award 🙂

    • Admin

      Thanks, Nishi. Glad you thought so. 🙂

  • Simone

    O don’t talk about the waistline… I’m already dreading the effect of the coming months on mine. This is maybe something I should attempt to make instead of the usual heavy and sweet stuff we have here. Beautiful shots Harini!

  • Sharmilee

    Classic clicks and yummy kozhukattais

  • sreelu

    Harini, never heard or seen this recipe before, I agree come august till end of year can be brutal to your waist line 🙂

  • Vijitha

    Gorgeous click as always. Simple dish yet very exotic in taste. I love this kara kozhukatai.

    • Harini

      Thanks! I was trying hard to recall what else it is known as!! Kara kozhakottai! Thank you. 🙂

Leave a Reply