Tag Archives: Kozhukattai

The South Indian Tiffin

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“Tiffin-ikku yenna panrathu?” is what my grandmother usually says the second lunch is over at our house in India!. It is translated from tamil as “What shall we make for Tiffin?”. Tiffin is a well known term in the foodie world as a light snack/meal from the Indian subcontinent. My family tell me it’s a term derived from the English slang tiffing, which meant “taking a sip”, but this term is no longer used in the English common language. However like verandah, pyjamas, rickshaw, curry and junk, tiffin is an India-derived noun that now has a permanent place in the current English language; and I feel we should be thankful that this Indo-Anglo word gives rise to such delicious dishes!

In South India, Tiffin is often referred to as a snack in between meals or a light dinner. A South Indian Tiffin includes items like, Dosa, Idli, Kozhukattai etc. In North India this term usually means a packed lunch for working men, women and school children and these lunchboxes are known as tiffin carrier or a tiffin box. In Mumbai and other big cities you can’t miss the Tiffinwalla’s carrying many tiffin boxes to various offices and it’s quite amazing to see the technique of carrying so many of these containers all by just one person!

In our household, dinner is nearly always light and so tiffin could many different things! One type of South Indian tiffin which is very healthy and fairly quick to prepare is the “Kara Pidi Kozhukattai”. Usually this is made from rice flour or rava (semolina) which is mixed with some tempered spices and then formed into handmade balls. The imprints of the cooks fingers when these balls are made are a special mark of this healthy tiffin 🙂 The balls are then steamed until cooked through and served with either a chutney or a spicy & tangy gravy like “kuzhambu” or “Gotsu/Gojju”.

My version of this South Indian tiffin uses Oats  instead of rice flour, as well Wheatgerm/bran which are the most nutritious parts of the wheat grain and are not used as much as they could be, in my humble opinion. This tiffin could be made with other additional ingredients like peas, cabbage & carrots is great served hot with a spicy Gotsu/Gojju. ‘Gotsu’ is the term you will hear a lot in Tamil Nadu and ‘Gojju’ is used in Karnataka, but they both mean the same type of dish. They are made slightly differently in different households, and my recipe was passed down to me from my grandmother and mother.

Here are my versions of Oats Pidi Kozhukattai and Gotsu and I hope you enjoy them!

What’s your favourite tiffin? Please let me know in the comment box below, thank you! 🙂

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Filed under brunch, indian, Lunch, recipe, south indian, tiffin, vegetarian

Ganesh Chaturthi

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These sweet delights are a typical offering made in Hindu households to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi/Vinayaka Chaturthi. They are known as ‘Modak’ in North India and ‘Modakkam’ or ‘Kozhukattai’ in South India and Sri Lanka. They are usually offered to Ganesha (the Hindu God who is said to help remove all obstacles and difficulties), before a pooja and then eaten afterwards by those who have attended the event. This is a favourite in our house during these celebrations aswell at other occasions and have to be strategically made in secret so that members of the household don’t eat all the sweet pooranam before you have a chance to make the Modakam’s! 🙂 Ganesha is also my personal favourite Hindu deity, bearing the head of my most favourite animal; the elephant. There is something about this Deity that, for me, brings hope and helps me get through difficult times. I can’t really describe in words how or why Ganesha makes me feel this way – he just does – and I am always drawn to anything related to Ganesha or elephants. 🙂

This year, the celebrations of Ganesh Chaturthi falls on Friday 29th August. I hope to go to India one day and witness this amazing festival that brings family and friends together.

For those who are not familiar with this snack, it’s basically like a steamed dumpling with a sweet or savoury filling. I like both recipes but have written the sweet version here. Although you can use soft brown sugar in this recipe, I prefer using Jaggery/Gur (unrefined cane sugar) as it gives a different taste and texture to the Modakams. Jaggery can be found in many Asian stores in Western countries nowadays, or online, so it’s worth getting it if you can. It can be kept for a long time if you keep it in an airtight container.

In Sri Lanka they often use red rice flour, which is not only healthier, but gives a great taste too. You can mix 1 cup of red rice to 1 tablespoon of steamed plain flour and then follow the same method. I am not keen on the bigger sizes of Modakam as I tend to be a bit clumsy and the filling just falls out everywhere when I bite into it! So I usually choose to make the bite-size versions. Find the recipe here.

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Filed under Food, Ganesha, south India, Uncategorized