Friday, June 22, 2012

Kozhukatta ~ steamed, sweet dumplings

Before you even attempt to say that word up there in the title, let me just clarify and shed light on the fact that there are many pronunciations and sounds that do exist in the English dictionary, but really can't cover the vast number of enunciations in the Malayalam language. They are different and varied and sometimes one's tongue just does not twist and turn the way a Keralite's does when conversing.

So before you attempt to  erroneously say "kozee- catta", I will supply you with a solid, but not direct  English translation. For you see, there is no real translation to kozhukatta, which literally means "plump block". Not too attractive sounding, right? The elements that make this dish are anything but that horrendous definition. So nix it and know that a kozhukatta is a steamed dumpling with a sweet core.

In essence, dumplings  made of rice flour, set with a soft, moist coconut filling nestled into it's center.

As part of my ever growing to do list, I had always and very desperately wanted to make kozhukattas. Dissuaded from even attempting, I felt it would end up on my record of kitchen disasters, and believe me, there are many. So, I had in me the fear of trying the unknown.

Today, I charted that unknown territory. After taking out a tattered, very old, page- missing cookbook, where the author did everything from scratch, I found my kozhukatta recipe. Out of the 10 or so existing pages from my culinary print source, there it was, waiting for me to find it.

There are all but 4 ingredients to the dumpling recipe and each element counts for a lot. The two main  components of rice flour and water is what the dough turn out relies heavily on. Too much water leads to super sticky dumplings, that end up looking like loose jackets over the filling. Too much flour has you with a compacted dough bearing zero moistness. It really depends upon how much and how fast you add and stir in the flour to your moisture.

By now, you know I love coconuts. There is no help for me in this. I admit it, rightly nodding to my South Indian heritage. The coconut for the filling is grated, which if you have a grater and availability to fresh coconuts, good for you and those arm muscles. For the rest of us, there is the shredded, unsweetened alternate you purchase frozen or dried at many specialty stores. It's the easier, lazy man's standby, almost as tasty as it's fresh cousin.

What I fancy most about these plumped rice spheroids is that that they are a pretty healthful choice for a hunger induced nibble. The sweetened coconut, enhanced with cardamom, plays off the rice flavored overlay so deliciously well, I guarantee your first thought on tasting one, would perhaps be, "oh, delectable goodness, where were you all my life?" .

These are exactly the kind of specialty delights you'd serve to guests or bring along as hostess gifts. Singularly reckoned as the unsurpassed queen (or king) of the Kerala kozhukatta you'd be, and that's a totally good thing, yes, it is

Recipe adapted from Mrs. B. F. Varghese' recipes
  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp oil (canola)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • On high heat in a deep sided saucepan, bring water to a boil.
  • Add oil and salt.
  • Reduce flame to medium-low, add flour by half cupfuls stirring vigorously, all the while. Add enough flour until mixture pulls into a translucent dough, not too sticky, kind of elastic consistency.You may not need all the flour, so judge accordingly.
  • Remove from heat. Let cool completely.
  • In the meantime make the filling (below).
  • Take off pieces from the dough. Form  flattened circles from the dough using lightly oiled hands, about 2" in diameter. 
  • Place about a teaspoon of the filling in the center of the circle.
  • Bring all sides of dough together over filling, pinching together the the opening over the top of filling. Roll the dumpling into a ball carefully so as not to break the cover. Cover and pinch dough over any exposed filling.
  • On medium heat, and using a *steaming apparatus of your choice bring  water a fourth of a ways up steamer pot, to a simmer. Spray the steamer's surface with a non-stick vegetable spray to prevent sticking. Place as many dumplings as will fit onto surface, without touching each other. Cover and steam for 8-10 minutes over medium heat, light simmer. Remove the dumplings. Repeat until all are are cooked.
  • 1 cup grated fresh coconut or unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup sugar or 1/2 cup grated jaggery
  • 1 cardamom pod, powdered or crushed
Mix together coconut, sugar and cardamom pod. If using jaggery, use your hands to gently rub through with the coconut and to combine.
Note: For steamers, I use a steamer basket. I will mention I use the microwave when the recipe calls for steaming and today it duly popped out moist dumplings as well.
The coconut/ jaggery combination has been used in aval vilayichathu and is similar to the brown sugar filling in my nazook DB challenge recipe.
We love jaggery with these dumplings, not cloyingly sugary, but it lends just the right amount of sweetness.

* Update* I am sending this to my friend Julie, who blogs at Erivum Puliyum. A most fantastic spot is what Julie has over there at EP, where she cooks up many an ingenious and creative recipe, Indian and otherwise. She is hosting a series for Kerala Kitchen, a virtual cooking club, comprising a superabundance of shared deliciousness- recipes, all influenced by the flavors of God's own country, Kerala.  So, here goes my entry- The Kerala Kitchen- June 2012 . Thanks Julie! 
No need to fear~

"Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,”they said, and cried out in fear.
 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Matthew 14: 25-27 (NIV) 


  1. You have me dying for some desi sweets my friend, these look sensational :D

    Choc Chip Uru

    1. Thank you, Uru, knowing you, they'd probably be stuffed to overfill with chocolate.

  2. It is almost teatime here and I wanted some snack ideas.. going to make your plump blocks.:) .. We too love it with jaggery.. have a great weekend

    1. He, he, Reshmi....don't you just love them- plumped till they burst ;)

    2. You have a great weekend too!

  3. Iyoooooo vishakunne....Ennikum vene...Delicilous.

    1. Engane vishakan? With all grand items on your menu over there, Tina, I hardly think. Thank you much:)

  4. sweet dumplings are new to me. looks absolutely fantastic

    1. They are good, you''ll love them. Thanks so much, Kanan-regards to you.

  5. Me too love them a favorite too,angane kozhukattakku oru puthiya perum koodi kitti 'plump blocks'.. he he..:-)
    You can link this to The Kerala Kitchen event ongoing at my space,link is below:-)
    Ongoing Events at(Erivum Puliyum)-
    1. The Kerala Kitchen(June'12)

    2.EP Series-Basil OR Cardamom

    1. Ha, ha...I should take up a job as a translator (only to get fired ;)) Thanks Julie, and I will link it.

  6. Hey I'm getting used to your lovely words ;)... Grab your award ..

    1. Thanks so much, Reshmi, spoiling me with these awards, fun, indeed ;-))

  7. First time seen these type of dumplings. Thanks for sharing this recipe. Perfectly done. Inviting you to visit my space at your leisure.

    1. Your welcome and thanks so much. Will definitely check out your blog.

  8. hey tisa.. yummy looking kozhukattas... i love them... was planning to make some ..

    have shared an award with you.. check it out here..

    1. Thank you so much Renu, yes, you should make them, they're super yum!
      Sweet of you to think of me for this award. So, now I'll consider myself versatile, indeed-he, he ;-))

  9. Wonderful tempting "Kozhukatta". Loved your clicks as well. Adipoli .... :)
    First time here and following you.....Keep rocking... :)

    - Sarika

  10. I truly appreciate your adipoli words, Sarika and thank you much for the follow ;))


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