Friday, 29 August 2014

Ammani/Mani kozhukattai (South Indian Gnocchi)

Today being Ganesh Chaturthi, traditionally, in Chennai every practicing household will make kozhukattai -  a sort of steam dumplings made from rice flour. The filling usually is either sweet (made from jaggery & coconut) or savory (made from urad dal). But what I love the most is the Mani (pearl) kozhukattai. My parents usually never made kozhukattai. It was our neighbor, who happens to be my best friend's grandmother, who made these regularly. I spent most of my waking time at their house more or less either playing with my friend or hanging out with her "paatti (grandmother)" in the kitchen. She was sort of a grand-mum for both of us. Whenever, she made these dumplings, she will always make extra flour for the outer shell just to make me these mani kozhukattai. Although, she is no longer with us, her memory lives on and I always remember her when I see/hear/eat mani kozhukattai. Over the years, I have slightly changed the recipe from using refined rice flour to healthier chemba (red) rice flour for the B vitamin content. Other than that, the spongy texture of the mani kozhukattai and flavor of the freshly grated coconuts still reminds me of the happy days singing old songs with "patti" in her kitchen while she cooked. Anyway, Happy Ganesh Chaturthi to everyone, and Happy Birthday to Ganesh and a special thanks to "paatti" for giving me such happy childhood memories.

You will need:
Idiyappanm rice flour - 3/4 cup
water - 1 to 1+1/4 cup
salt to taste
1 tbsp coconut/cooking oil
1/4 cup grated coconut
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp urad dal
a pinch of asafoetida
10 curry leaves (chopped/torn)
2 green chillies chopped (for adults)

This recipe uses store bought rice/idiyappam flour. Traditionally, the rice flour was made at home after washing, soaking and drying the rice. But now these idiayappam/kozhukattai flour is sold in packets at Indian grocers. Like, I mentioned earlier, I tend to use red rice since it is a good source of Vitamin B compared refined rice flour.

Here is the packet I used.

In a sauce pan add the water and salt and bring it a boil. Turn off stove. I another pan add 1 cup of water and whisk the rice flour and mix well without lumps. Add extra boiling water a little bit at a time, if needed, to make a firm paste. Let it cool. Mean while, grease/oil the steaming pans. I used idli pans for this. When the paste is cool enough to handle, knead into a smooth dough (Sorry no pics of these since my hands were full and I could not click).

Pinch off small pieces of the dough and roll it between your palms to make a small smooth ball. Hubby just got back home, yay!

Place the balls in the steaming pans.

Steam for 7 mins.

In a skillet, heat the oil, add mustard seeds and allow it to splutter. Add Urad dal and fry till golden. Add asafoetida and curry leaves.

Turn off the stove and add the steamed gnocchi and fry well and until coated well with the spices.

Add the grated coconut and stir gently to mix well.

After taking out the children's portion, you can add the chillies for adults and mix well.

Serve warm as a snack. It is a very healthy snack since it needs very little oil and is steamed. If using the chemba rice flour, you will have the added health benefit of Vit. B. Hope you have a lovely weekend and get to enjoy my favorite snack soon. Here I go to get my next bowl of childhood memories :)

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