Thengai Poornam Kozhukattai is a popular offering on the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi, in South India. It refers to a sort of steamed dumpling, for lack of better words. The outer shell is made using rice flour, and the sweet filling within is made with coconut and jaggery. In today’s post, let me share with you all my family’s way of making Thengai Poornam Kozhukattai.
Ganesh Chaturthi recipes on my blog
Different kinds of modak (‘kozhukattai‘ in Tamil) are prepared for Ganesh Chaturthi, as it is believed that they are one of Lord Ganesha’s favourite foods. There are several other special dishes also prepared for the occasion. Kara Ammini Kozhukattai, Pidi Kozhukattai, Vella Payaru, Vellai Kondakadalai Sundal, Peanut Laddoo, Wheat Dalia Pidi Kozhukattai, Fruit & Nut Chocolate Modak, Corn Dalia Pidi Kozhukattai, and Pottukadalai Maa Laddoo are some festive dishes from my blog that you might want to check out.
About Thengai Poornam Kozhukattai
These kozhukattai with the sweet coconut filling are a heritage offering to Lord Ganesha, especially in Tamilnadu. Just a few ingredients are required to make them, and they taste absolutely wonderful.
Making the kozhukattai is not a very difficult task per se, but they do require practice to get them perfect. I have shared detailed notes here, to explain the process as clearly as possible, to help achieve the best of results.
Thengai Poornam Kozhukattai Recipe
Here is how to go about making them.
Ingredients (makes about 12 pieces):
For the filling:
1. 1 cup fresh grated coconut
2. 1/2 cup jaggery powder
3. About 1/2 cup water
4. 3/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
5. 3/4 teaspoon ghee
For the outer covering:
1. 2 cups water
2. A pinch of salt
3. 1/2 teaspoon oil + more as needed for greasing hands and steaming vessels
4. 1 cup rice flour
We will start by preparing the sweet coconut filling.
1. Take the jaggery powder in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in 1/2 cup water or just enough to cover the jaggery. Place the pan on high flame, and allow the jaggery to melt completely in the water.
2. When the water comes to a rolling boil, reduce flame to medium.
3. At this stage, add the grated coconut to the pan, stirring constantly. Mix well. Cook on medium flame for 3-4 minutes. By this time, the water will dry out and the coconut mixture will start thickening.
4. Add in the cardamom powder and mix well. Cook for a minute or so more or till the mixture starts comes together as a solid mass.
5. Still keeping the flame at medium, add the ghee to the pan. Mix well, and switch off gas. Do not cook further as that will make the mixture rock-solid. It will thicken some more upon cooling.
6. The coconut filling is ready. Set it aside and allow to cool completely.
In the meantime, we will prepare the dough for the outer covering.
1. Take 2 cups of water in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in a pinch of salt and 1/2 teaspoon oil. Place the pan on high flame and allow it to come to a rolling boil.
2. At this stage, reduce the flame down to low-medium. Add in the rice flour little by little, stirring constantly with one hand. The rice flour will immediately soak up all the water. Break up lumps with the back of a ladle and cook the dough on low-medium flame for about 2 minutes.
3. Now, turn the flame down to the lowest and allow the dough to cook covered for a minute. Switch off gas. Mix in the oil.
4. Let the dough stay in the pan, covered, for some time till it cools down enough to handle. Don’t let it cool down completely – let it get just warm enough to handle comfortably. At this stage, knead the dough well to a smooth, soft texture without any cracks. Keep it covered till you need it.
Now, we will start preparing the kozhukattai.
1. When both the rice flour dough and the coconut filling have completely cooled down, we will start preparing the kozhukattai. Grease your hands well with oil and pinch out a small portion of the dough, keeping the rest of it covered. Shape a thin bowl out the dough, using your hands.
2. Place a couple of tablespoons of the coconut filling in the bowl. Do not overstuff it – use just enough filling. Gather the dough on the sides little by little and form the shape of a modak/kozhukattai as shown in the step-by-step pictures.
3. Prepare kozhukattai out of all the dough and filling, in a similar manner. Keep ready.
4. Heat water in an idli steamer and allow it to come to a boil. Grease the idli plates with oil and keep them ready.
5. When the water in the steamer starts bubbling, place a greased plate inside. Arrange a few kozhukattai atop the plate, without overcrowding.
6. Close the steamer and cook on medium flame for 10-12 minutes. You will know the kozhukattai are done when they start looking glossy. Remove them onto a plate. Replenish the water in the steamer if needed, allow it to come to a boil, then cook a few more kozhukattai in a similar manner. Repeat until all the kozhukattai are steamed and ready. Serve within an hour or so, as they tend to become dry with time.
Tips & Tricks
1. This recipe uses a little amount of ghee and is, hence, not vegan (plant-based). If you want to make vegan kozhukattai, substitute the ghee with coconut oil or sesame oil.
2. The above recipe is completely vegetarian and gluten-free.
3. I have used organic country (Nati) jaggery here, which gives the coconut filling its deep brown colour. You may use regular jaggery instead, too. The colour of the filling depends upon the variety of jaggery you use.
4. I have used an idli steamer to cook the kozhukattai. You may steam them in a vegetable steamer or a pressure cooker too.
5. Do not overcrowd the steamer while cooking the Thengai Poornam Kozhukattai. Cook them a few at a time.
6. Do not steam the kozhukattai for more than 10-12 minutes as that might render them hard.
7. Adjust the quantity of jaggery you use as per personal taste preferences.
8. Traditionally, rice was soaked overnight, then ground into a batter and cooked to make the outer covering for these kozhukattai. Considering that it is a very tedious process, most families these days use rice flour instead (home-made or store-bought). I have used store-bought rice flour from a brand called Anil.
9. Always keep the rice flour dough covered, to prevent it from drying out. This will help in preparing perfect, crack-free kozhukattai.
10. Don’t overcook the coconut filling. This can cause the filling to become very hard and chewy.
11. I have shaped the kozhukattai using my hands. You may use a mould to do so.
12. The coconut filling can be prepared a day in advance, while it is best to make the rice flour dough fresh.
Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!