A popular offering to the elephant-headed Lord Ganesha on Ganesh Chaturthi, the Pidi Kozhukattai is also a very healthy snack. With the goodness of rice and toor daal, it is a steamed snack made with minimal oil. It is a simple thing to make, but quite delicious and filling, which makes it great as a lunchbox filler.
Pidi Kozhukattai is a traditional Tamilnadu preparation, wherein rice flour or broken rice is first cooked in boiling water along with a few other ingredients, then allowed to cool and shaped into dumplings with the hands, after which they are steamed. Fingerprint marks on the Pidi Kozhukattai are its distinguishing feature, which lend the dish a certain rustic charm. This is how the dish gets its name too – ‘pidi‘ in Tamil roughly translates into ‘hand-held’. These steamed dumplings are often also called ‘Upma Kozhukattai‘, referring to the coarse grinding of rice in the mixer that the recipe calls for, similar to the making of Rice Upma, another common Tamil Nadu snack.
These dumplings can be either sweet or savoury, with different families making big and little variations of their own. Today, I present to you the savoury version, called Kara Pidi Kozhukattai, the way my family makes it. I made these for the Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations in our apartment this year, and they were a huge hit.
Here is the recipe for these Kara Pidi Kozhukattai, on popular demand. 🙂
Ingredients (makes 25-28 pieces):
- 2 cups raw rice
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 4 tablespoons toor daal
- 4 cups water
- 2 tablespoons oil + a little more for greasing the steaming plate
- 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
- 3-4 pinches of asafoetida
- 2 sprigs of fresh curry leaves
- 2 green chillies, chopped into large-ish pieces
- Salt to taste
- 1/4 cup fresh grated coconut
- Take the raw rice and toor daal together in a large mixer jar. Add in the black peppercorns. Pulse a few times, for a couple of seconds each, stopping in between to mix up the ingredients in the jar with a spoon. Stop when the ingredients are ground to a well-crushed, slightly coarse texture like rava. Keep aside.
- Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a pan. Add in the mustard seeds and let them pop. Tear the curry leaves roughly with your hands and add them in. Add in the asafoetida. Let them stay in for a couple of minutes.
- Add 4 cups of water to the pan, along with salt to taste. Keep on high flame and bring to a rolling boil.
- Now, add the chopped green chillies and fresh grated coconut to the boiling water in the pan. Mix well.
- Keeping the flame on medium, slowly add the ground rice-black pepper-toor daal mixture to the boiling water in the pan. Stir constantly to avoid lumps forming.
- Keep cooking on medium flame, stirring constantly, till all the water is absorbed. Switch off the flame when the mixture comes together, and starts getting dry.
- Let the cooked mixture cool down considerably, covered.
- When the mixture is cool enough to handle, we will begin shaping pidi kozhukattai out of it. For this, make medium-sized oval dumplings out of the mixture, as shown in the picture above. Keep aside, covered.
- Use a little oil to grease a colander to steam the pidi kozhukattai in. Arrange as many pidi kozhukattai in the greased colander as you can, in a single line, keeping a little space between them. Keep them ready.
- Take about 1 cup of water in a pressure cooker base. Place a stand over the water. Place the cooker on high flame. Let the water in the base start boiling. Now, place the colander with the pidi kozhukattai over the stand, cover the cooker, and steam for 10 minutes without putting the weight on.
- Allow the cooked pidi kozhukattai to cool down slightly, and then gently transfer to a vessel/serving plate using a spoon. Handling them straight out of the cooker might cause them to break.
- Cook all the pidi kozhukattai in a similar manner. Serve hot or at room temperature, with some simple coconut chutney.
- Adjust the quantity of black peppercorns you use, depending upon how spicy you want the pidi kozhukattai to be. You can even skip the green chillies altogether, and use only black peppercorns to add spiciness. If using green chillies, make sure you use slightly big pieces that can be easily spotted and not bit into accidentally.
- The rice and toor daal mixture can be ground as coarsely or as finely as you desire. I prefer not grinding them finely, but to a well-crushed, coarse texture that is akin to rava.
- Chana daal can be used in place of toor daal. Both versions are equally tasty.
- I use Sona Masoori raw rice to make these pidi kozhukattai. 4 cups of water for 2 cups of Sona Masoori raw rice is the rice:water ratio that works perfectly for us.
- Adjust the quantity of grated coconut you use in the kara upma kozhukattai, depending upon personal preferences.
- Here, I have ground the raw rice and toor daal without washing them. If you want to wash them, drain out all the excess water after you do so, then sun-dry them for about 10 minutes on a cotton cloth. Proceed with making the pidi kozhukattai the same way as above, once the washed rice and toor daal are completely dry.
- A colander works best for steaming the upma kozhukattai. This ensures even cooking.
- Stop cooking the rice-toor daal-black pepper mixture when it starts to come together and lose moisture. Do not overcook it, as this will cause the pidi kozhukattai to get quite dry. Keep the cooked mixture covered till you use it.
- Gingelly oil or coconut oil works best in the making of these upma kozhukattai.
- These upma kozhukattai can be made ahead and refrigerated. You can remove them from the refrigerator an hour or so before serving, then steam them well in a pressure cooker.
- Traditionally, when these upma kozhukattai are made for the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi, they are made without tasting. They are first offered to Lord Ganesha and then partaken of.
Did you like this recipe? Do tell me in your comments!
I hope you will try out these Kara Pidi Kozhukattai too, and that you will love them as much as we do!