Modhagam / Modak / Kozhukattai is said to be the most favorite offering (naivedhyam in tamil) of the benevolent Elephant-God, Vinayaka, remover of all obstacles (according to Hindu mythology). His birth is celebrated as a popular festival, Vinayaka Chaturthi, all across India. Different states of India submit different offerings for this day, however, this recipe below is a popular South Indian special, called Mothagam or Mothagam Kozhukattai 🙂 . This can be made with a variety of fillings using lentils, dry fruits, khoya, and even chocolate powder! However, I am today going with the most traditional of all fillings, fresh grated coconut and jaggery. Utterly, utterly delicious melt in the mouth soft wrapper that gives way to a sweet, velvety filling !! 🙂
Since this is made with rice flour, jaggery, coconut and ghee (clarified butter made from cow’s milk), this is vegetarian. Vegan, if you omit the ghee. This is also a relatively healthy sweet , because this is steamed. Also jaggery is a very natural as well as healthy sweetener compared to refined white sugar. Please do try this, do not be put off by the number of steps; it is really easy to make with basic ingredients, and you get the hang of the shaping and filling once you do 2 or 3 dumplings. Read on for the recipe 🙂
For the Thengai Poornam (filling)
- Fresh grated coconut – 2 cups
- Fresh grated jaggery – 1 to 1.5 cups
- Elaichi powder – 1/2 tsp
For the rice flour dumplings (outer covering)
- Idiyappam or kozhukattai flour (I used Anil brand) – 2 cups
- Water – 1.5 to 1.75 cups per cup of flour (adjust as needed)
- Salt – 1/2 tsp
- Ghee – 1 tsp
- Dissolve the grated jaggery in about 1/2 cup of water (or even lesser, just about enough to immerse it).
- Heat this mixture. Once it starts frothing, strain this mixture using a strainer to filter out all impurities from the jaggery syrup.
- Put this stained syrup back on the heat, and let it boil till it becomes thick and syrupy , for about 4-5 minutes on a medium flame.
- Add the freshly grated coconut and mix well.
- Allow this mixture to cook for another 2-3 minutes, while stirring continuously on medium flame.
- Let it cool to room temperature, this takes about 20-30 minutes. Once cool, the mixture tends to thicken slightly more.
- Now you should be able to divide into equal portions and shape this into small lemon-sized balls for the kozhukattai.
- Heat water (in the ratio mentioned above) until its boiling. Its important for the water to boil, so that it cooks the rice flour evenly and completely when it hits the water.
- Add the rice flour while stirring continuously, so that no lumps are formed. Switch off the stove once the flour is incorporated well.
- Transfer this flour to another wide vessel. Let this mixture cool for about 5-7 minutes.
- While still warm, knead the dough with your hands , adding a little ghee (about a tsp) during the process if required. This helps you knead easily and the dough will also be softer.
- Once the dough becomes non-sticky and a smooth ball, let it rest. Cover with a clean and damp muslin cloth to prevent the dough from drying out.
- Grease your palms and fingertips generously with ghee. Roll out lemon-sized balls of the rice flour dough.
- Use your fingertips and thumb to stretch the dough, flattening it.
- Placing your thumb at the centre of the flattened dough, form a cup-shape by constantly flattening the dough further using your other 4 fingers, all the while keeping your thumb at the centre.
- The 4th picture shows the depth of the wrapper, this is necessary to hold the filling.
- Add your filling to the cup-shaped rice flour wrapper.
- Bring all the sides together and close the kozhukattai 3/4th.
- Now pinch further and close the dumpling, stretching out the centre to form modakam (it is kind of like a mountain peak’s shape).
- Grease the idly steamer plates with ghee / oil (if using idly steamer).
- Place one dumpling each in each cavity of the idly steamer, do not overcrowd (if using idly steamer, or else just ensure enough space between the dumplings).
- Steam without whistle for 10-12 minutes, until done.
- Your dumplings take on a shine, and look translucent, once they are done.
- Just remove the lid of the cooker and allow them to rest for 5 minutes. Do not try to remove immediately. They will be extremely soft, hence they could break.
- You can remove them with a spoon, and serve warm.
Do try this and let us know how it turned out!! 🙂