Pillayar Chathurthi, Ganesh Chathurthi or Vinayaka Chathurthi is being celebrated today. The Gods we worship have different names in different parts of India. Pillayar in Tamilnadu is also called as Ganesha or Vinayaka, followed by a list of many other names. Different names don’t interfere in the festivities on the street and inside homes. What the elephant-headed God, being Pillayar or Ganesha likes is fixed – Kozhukkattai in Tamil and Modakam in Sanskrit. Different Forms of Modak are the most important preparation of Pillayar Chaturthi.
Added to the well popularised Modakam in the God’s hands, is a long chain of local ingredients – fruits, vegetables and grains that come up during the season.
In Tamilnadu, what Lord Ganesha is simplified in the poetic verses – ‘Appamodu Aval Pori’ – which gives the best three things that he likes to eat –
a. Appam/Deep fried Rice flour-jaggery Dumplings (the altered version being made with wheat flour and sometimes banana too)
b. Aval – Flattened Rice
c. Pori – Puffed Rice.
This also shows the socioeconomic connection behind these religion based celebrations. The major crop of the area – Rice and its different versions, has been adapted as ‘Festive Food Essentials’. I often think, if Ganesh Chathurthi had been celebrated elaborately in the northern parts of India – Wheat based specialities would have been his favorite, wheat being the major crop of that part of the country.
Now, the core ingredient of Kozhukkattai or Modakam is the rice flour. What enters into the beautiful rice cover can be optional. Coconut – Jaggery is the ultimate killer combination of all kozhukkattais according to me. The next classic filling is the Sesame Seed – Jaggery combination. The nutty flavor that the sesame seeds give and the traditional sweetness from jaggery can also be a low-fat version for those who feel coconut or fried coconut is rich in cholesterol (not me). Apart from this stuffed modakams, there are also varieties of non-stuffed stuff – pidi kozhukkattai or plain sweetened or salted steamed dumplings pressed with the impression of fingers – that aid additionally as quick and easy evening snacks.
Coconut-Jaggery Kozhukkattai and Pidi Kozhukkattai – Sweet and Salt and Spicy versions, have already been posted. It’s time for Ellu Kozhukkattai or Sesame Seed-Jaggery filled Dumplings this time.
Ellu Kozhukkattai/Rice Flour Dumplings with Sesame Seed and Jaggery
a. Ingredients specified below makes 20-25 dumplings
b. The V -Part demonstration is for precise comprehension alone – otherwise these dumplings are quite easy to make
Part I – Making Rice Flour at home
The core ingredient Rice Flour can be store-bought which comes out well, but the snow-white colour of home-made rice flour is something beyond comparison. For those who prefer home-made rice flour, please refer https://dosaikal.com/2016/08/29/uppu-seedaisalted-rice-ball-crispies/
Part II – Making the Rice Dough which is the outer covering
- arisi maavu/rice flour – 1 1/2 cup – app. 200 gms
- thanneer/water – boiling hot to make a stiff yet soft dough
- uppu/salt – 1/2 tsp
- nallennai/gingelly oil – 2 tsp
- Boil water in a vessel;
- In a bowl, mix rice flour and salt;
- Pour boiling hot water on it and mix well with a ladle immediately before lumps form;
- Add the gingelly oil for smooth consistency.
Part III – Making the filling
- ellu/sesame seeds (white or black) – 100 gms – app. 1 cup
- vellam/jaggery – 200 gms – app. 1 cup
- thengai thuruval/grated coconut – 1/2 cup – app. 50 gms
- chukku podi/dry ginger powder – 1 tsp
- elakkai podi/cardamom powder – 1/2 tsp
roasted sesame with jaggery water…
mixed with coconut, dry ginger powder and cardamom powder..
and shaped to be filled..
- Dry roast clean/non-muddy sesame seeds till golden.
- Separately dry roast coconut – for 10 mins – with the coco-nutty stickiness intact.
- Dissolve jaggery in just enough hot water and filter the mud that is present.
- In a pan, heat together sesame seeds, grated coconut, jaggery water, dry ginger powder and cardamom powder.
- Let the mixture thicken, ready enough to make small stiff balls.
- Make equal sized balls for filling.
Part IV – Making Kozhukkattai/Dumplings
(for step-by-step procedure for keeping the filling inside and closing kozhukkattai please refer – https://dosaikal.com/2011/09/14/modhakam-pillayar-chaturthi-special/
- Make small equal sized balls for the outer covering.
- Keep a bowl with 3 tsp gingelly oil for greasing palm – this helps the rice dough not sticking to the palm.
- Grease palm with gingelly oil.
- Take one rice ball and press it flat in the palm and fill it with one sesame jaggery ball.
- Cover it well and make kozhukkattai/dumpling.
- Make all dumplings to be steamed.
ready to be steamed
Part V – Steaming Modhakams
- Take an Idli Kopparai/Idli Cooker or any Steamer.
- Boil water in the base of the steamer.
- Oil the moulds and place the kozhukkattai/dumplings.
- Place the mould in the steamer and steam for 15 minutes.
- Kozhukkattais are ready to be served.