Sunday, November 30, 2008
Recipe: Upma Kozhukkattai
When I wrote the recipe for sweet kozhukkattais, I had promised that the recipe for other kozhukkattais would follow and somehow I have not been able to post all of them yet, though I did post ammini kozhukkattai sometime back. Among the varieties of kozhukkattias, Upma kozhukkattais are the ones made quite frequently as a breakfast item or an evening snack or as a substitute for dinner on the days when rice was not eaten. The snack gets its name Upma kozhukkattai as the kozhukkattais are made from an upma made of rice rava.
When we were children, there was no concept of a breakfast in many Iyer households, instead there was a brunch, followed by a tiffin in the afternoon. The midday, around 2.30 – 3.00pm, was the busiest time of the day, when the afternoon tiffin had to be prepared, followed by night dinner, children came back from school and the cows returned home. There are many stories describing the busy scene of this time. There are also many stories with Kozhukkattais as the theme. I have also written a story which depicts both the busy evening and the kozhukkattias.
During those days, Kozhukkattai was not a regular tiffin item at our house. We usually had idli, dosa or adai. My chithappa (paternal uncle) used to refer to kozhukkattai as Emden (M10) referring to the bomb used in the World War I.
My mother used to say that once when kozhukkattai was made, it turned out very hard and hence my chithappa named it as Emden. Those days, kozhukkattais were prepared by using ground boiled rice, which were very sticky and turned hard if it was not cooked in right quantity of water. These days, we use rava made of raw rice or the commercially available idli rava.
However, kozhukkattai was a favoured tiffin item in my husband’s house. My astute and blessed mother-in-law used to make the softest kozhukkattai and I have learnt the art from her. However I restrict myself in the quantity of tempering oil used. The secret of petal soft kozhukkattais lies in the quantity of oil and coconut used, my mother-in-law used to say. Her kozhukkattais and upma were very famous among my side of the family even. "Patti makes the best Upma," my brother used to say, referring to my mom-in-law.
The rava required for the recipe can be prepared at home or one can use the idli rava available commercially. To prepare the rava at home: Wash and drain raw rice and dry it by spreading on a clean cloth. Dry grind the rice coarsely in a mixer, to rava (sooji, semolina consistency). If one spoon of toor dal is added to every cup of raw rice while grinding, it adds to the taste. If you are making the kozhukkattai immediately, the rice need be spread on a towel only until the rice is just dry. However, if you plan to store the rava, dry it in sun, until the rice completely dry and crisp.
Here is the recipe:
Rice rava: 1 cup
Water: 2½ cups
Grated coconut: 2 tbsp.
Curry leaves: a few
Urad dal: 2 tsp.
Chana dal: 2 tsp.
Red chillies: 2.
Hing powder: ½ tsp.
Coriander leaves: 1 tbsp (finely cut)
Salt to taste
The above are the usual ingredients for Upma kozhukkattai. For variety I always add either grated carrot or finely cut spinach while preparing the upma.
Use a thick bottomed pan. Heat the oil in the pan. When the oil is hot, add the hing powder, mustard, urad dal and chana dal. When the dals turn pink in color, add the broken red chillies and curry leaves and add the water and salt. When the water starts boiling add the grated coconut and finely cut coriander leaves (If you are using carrot or spinach, add these now). Add the rice rava and cook until all the water is absorbed. Remove from stove and keep closed for 10 minutes.
When the Upma is cool, mix it well and make small oblong kozhukkattais and steam them for 15-20 minutes. Absolutely delicious kozhukkattais are ready. Enjoy!
Kozhukkattais can be served with sambar, chutney or Podi. My favourite though, is kozhukkattai with rasam. My friend Lalitha says, kozhukkattais taste wonderful with Vattalkozhambu. Pick your choice and Enjoy.