Thursday, September 1, 2011

Steamed Sweet Coconut Parcels (Kozhakkattai)

Today is ’Vinayaka Chathurti’ or Ganesh Festival. Legend has it that Lord Ganesha is very fond of a sweet dish called ‘Kuzhakattai’ (in Tamil), and so is everyone in South India! On this day, these sweet parcels are prepared and offered as prasad to the Lord. This is one of the few sweet dishes, which is both tasty and healthy, as it uses very little oil and only unrefined sugar. So you can indulge without feeling guilty!

People assume this dish is very difficult to prepare, but my version, which I learnt from my mother, is fool proof and simple.


For the parcel casing:
·         2 cups uncooked rice
·         ¼ tsp salt
·         2 tsps oil
·         3 cups water (for diluting mixture)

For the filling
·         2 cups shredded coconut
·         1 ¼ cups powdered jaggery
·         ½ tsp powdered cardamom
·         ¼ cup water

Preparation time: 1 hour
Cooking time: 5 mins
Makes  30 parcels.

Method :

Parcel Casing
  1. Soak the rice in water for 2-3 hours.  Grind to a smooth paste in a mixer.
  2. Dilute with water until it reaches the consistency of buttermilk (thin pouring consistency).
  3.  Add salt and mix well.
  4. In a pan, pour in the water and rice mixture and a little oil . Stir well and heat the mixture stirring continuously for about 5 mins until it forms a thick dough like ball.  
  5.   Cover and set aside.

Sweet Filling:
  1.  Heat the water in a saucepan, and add the powdered jaggery.
  2. When the jaggery has melted completely, add the desiccated coconut and stir for 4-5 mins, until it forms a thick mixture which is sticky to the touch.
  3.  Remove from the heat, add the powdered cardamom and mix well.

Assembling the Parcel:
  1. Rub a little oil onto the palms of your hands, and form small balls of dough, kneading them thoroughly.
  2. Make a cup like shape with the balls of dough.  Start from the outside of the ball and work inwards, gently pressing down the dough with both thumbs. This may sound difficult at first, but it comes with practice! See pictures below.
  3. Place 1 tsp. of the filling into the cup, and close the parcel by pinching the rim of the cup to form a peak, as shown in the pictures.
  4. Steam the parcels for 5mins. Enjoy warm or cooled.

A variety of other fillings also work well inside the parcels.
Your comments are most welcome. 

Happy Vinayaka Chathurti!

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