Brown Rice (Arisi) Kozhukattai / Pidi Kozhukattai

Brown Rice Arisi Kozhukattai (Steamed Rice balls / Dumplings)

The recipe in discussion here today was documented by me atleast 4-5 years ago when blogging was not even the faintest idea that I had in mind. Cooking, however, was and continued to be a passion and when group members asked for a recipe, I always had the habit of typing in a word document and then sharing it with them for convenience. Little did I know that when I would start blogging, well it would be a year this month, all this would come handy. Nothing you do, goes waste – I am a firm believer of that logic!  

South Indians proudly endorse all their breakfast specials loaded with carbs. I am one of them, if I may say so, very proud of my traditions and food culture. Idlis are considered one of the best breakfast in the world when combined with a cup of sambar and chutney. What are the main ingredients of Idli? Rice and Urad Dal. Why then are they considered healthy? They are steamed, use very little oil, have the goodness of carbs, protein, little fat. So, do I hear, Rice is bad for health? Nah! Frankly, don’t feed us rice for a day, we tend to get cranky or atleast I do.

My Ma always told me about her folks i.e. my grandparents and their eating habits while I was growing up. My grandparents were early risers and as early as 4 am. Well they also slept early, say by 9 pm max. My Thatha woke up at 4 am, had his bath, followed by pooja and then had his first cup of Filter Coffee followed by Tiffin or Breakfast. He then left for work, carried a steel tiffin carrier that had Sambar sadam (Sambar rice), Thayir sadam (curd rice), One curry or poriyal and some papads or pickles on the side. Lunch was around 10 am and the afternoon tea was at 2 pm which was again served with some light tiffin which is either the leftover idlis of the morning turned into upma or fresh breakfast etc or sometimes it was murruku or thengoyal (the dry deep fried snacks) etc for the kids of the house which my Grand Mother made very well. By 7 pm, dinner was done and dusted and by 8 pm the kitchen was closed for the day. 9 pm it was time for half a tumbler of milk and sugar followed by bed time. My Grandparents never heard of rotis or Chapatis until they shifted their base to Mumbai after Thatha’s retirement. The entire food was rice based, they had papads and pickles all home made, deep fried snacks etc but were healthy as a horse. Difference – They walked from their home to office, my grandmother had to wash clothes with her hands, grate the coconut, idli and dosai batter for a family of 6 people. All meals were freshly cooked as there was no refrigerator for storing the leftovers. Grinding the masala was done on the ammi kal or grinding stone which made her shoulder and arm muscles strong. No Television so no distractions during meal time and the most important thing, no pollution. Such lovely days which my Mom always missed. They didn’t have a luxurious life but there was love and good food.

Coming back to the post, this is one breakfast option that is slightly difficult to make early morning from scratch as it doesn’t involve any dough or batter. However, if you are like me, who goes to any lengths to cook this at home just because they taste delicious, you wouldn’t mind the slightly lengthy process. Trust me, piping hot kozhukattais and unlimited portions of thengai chutney or coconut chutney ensures a great start to the day. Right since childhood, this has been my favourite at home. My mom made these pretty well and unlike me, she was generous with the drizzling of coconut oil and the grated coconut. If she were alive, she would definitely cringe at the fact that there is no coconut in the kozhukattai in my version and would lecture me on how to exercise and not cut down on food. God I miss her constant push! 

Since normally they are made with white rice (short grain variety here – Ponni Rice, Sona Masuri or Kolam are good options), the soaking time is around 2 hours followed by the other process as mentioned in the recipe below. Since I used Brown Rice, I have increased the soaking time to 4 hours and it resulted in very soft kozhukattais which no one at home could recognize, apart from the brownish tinge, that they were not made from white rice. So, if you want to plan ahead and make this without much fuss, opt for bulk soaking, grinding and storing in the refrigerator (stays only for 2 days max in freezer) you can make this very easily. Read the recipe and make it once, I am sure, you will love it!

Arisi Kozhukattai 3.jpg

So, Live a simple life, work hard, be content and eat well – Calories will never do you any harm! It is my Ma’s funda and the lady was rarely wrong about things in life.

Recipe for Brown Rice Arisi Kozhukattai (Steamed Rice balls)

  1. 1 cup Brown Rice
  2. 1 tsp chana dal
  3. ½ tsp mustard seeds
  4. 2-3 green chillies finely chopped
  5. 1-2 whole red chillies broken
  6. 2 tsps coconut oil
  7. 2 cups of water for soaking + 2 cups for cooking rice + water as required for steaming 
  8. Sprig of curry leaves
  9. Salt as per taste

Method –

  1. Wash the Brown Rice under running water 2-3 times and then soak it for atleast 4-5 hours.
  2. Drain the water and then spread it on a soft cotton cloth (on the kitchen platform) to drain all the excess moisture. It takes around an hour for the water to drain.
  3. Once the rice has drained all the moisture, grind it in a mixer grinder into a coarse powder and keep aside.
  4. Heat a kadhai or non-stick pan, add oil followed by mustard seeds.
  5. Once they crackle, add chana dal, red and green chillies, curry leaves.
  6. Once the chana dal turns slightly brown, add the 2 cups of water along with salt and allow it to simmer.
  7. Once it reaches a boil, slowly add the coarsely grounded rice while stirring the mixture continuously to avoid lumps.
  8. Keep stirring the mixture until the moisture is absorbed by the rice flour and the mixture reaches a slightly tighter than an upma mixture consistency.
  9. Allow it to cool for 15 minutes before dividing into equal portions, pressing and shaping them into balls. 
  10. In the meanwhile, prepare a steamer or in my case, I use a pressure cooker and the greased idli moulds with stand to place the rice balls for steaming.
  11. Steam it for atleast 15 minutes and allow it to cool completely before opening the pressure cooker. Serve it piping hot with chutney and sambar or any accompaniment of your choice.

Recipe Notes –

  • Since we are always short of time and cannot follow a lengthy procedure for everyday cooking, the soaking and grinding process can be done a day earlier and stored in the freezer for atleast 2 days.
  • Since it is coarse rice flour and not finely powdered, the mixture tends to get spoiled fast if kept for longer (even in the freezer). So, this is an ideal weekend meal.
  • Traditionally, a cup of grated coconut is added along with the rice flour and tastes great. However, since we go easy on coconut consumption too and have paired it with a coconut chutney which balances the taste.
  • Also, I have used a very small quantity of coconut oil for the tadka or the tempering as it is a steamed snack option and doesn’t need too much oil, which is one of the positives about this dish.
  • You can make this with millets too.

Vidya Narayan

37 thoughts on “Brown Rice (Arisi) Kozhukattai / Pidi Kozhukattai

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  1. Must be super yummy Vidya. I will try it one of these days and I will have some coconut added 😊
    And lovely narration of the grandparents routine 👍

    1. Thank you Sir for stopping by and providing your wonderful feedback. And about the coconut, my mom does the same, add more and trust me it does taste delicious and soft. Do try and let me know how you liked it. Would be happy to hear.

  2. Nice reading about your grand parents’ life back then, it seems to be more or less similar to my grandparents’ life as well ! Love your delicious pidi kozhukattai with coconut chutney!!

    1. Aren’t we South Indians a bit similar in our routines? especially the earlier generations were very disciplined. Thanks and glad you could relate it and also loved the dish.

  3. I also get amazed, when I think about our grandparents, they made every meal fresh from scratch with no kitchen appliances for at least minimum 5 people. Nowadays I get tired when I cook three simple meals per day, with the use of all kitchen appliances. I guess, that is the reason they were fit and healthy. I am not a morning person. So my day is totally depends on the time I wake up.

    Lovely dish, thank you for sharing. I love the way, you describe the recipes.

    1. Tell me about it Malini, we are such lazy souls who have the latest appliances yet crib about cooking more than 2 things on the menu and these guys cooked for an entire lot and that too not in advance (no freezing or storing). Something to learn and ponder. Glad you like the write ups and this is so encouraging to hear.

      1. Very true, dear 🙂 I shared your recipe on “It’s all about Vegetarian / Vegan Food” group on Facebook. Hope you don’t mind. I created this group to collect healthy vegetarian recipes. If you are interested, please join.

  4. Loved reading about your grandparents routine and can so relate to it. Makes me so hungry to see your brown rice Kozhukattai, they look so delicious. I have tried it with rice powder in my recipe here, https://stirringmyspicysoul.com/2017/11/12/spicy-kozhukattai/, it tastes yummy too. I had to figure out a shorter version coz I do not have the time to do it from scratch.Sure to visit your blog again as I see some of my favorite forgotten recipes posted here. Thank you & Happy blogging !

    1. Hey, Yes rice powder is an easy option but I somehow prefer this long method, will check out the recipe on your blog as well though. Thank you for appreciating my work and will keep in touch. Best wishes!

  5. Nice post Vidhya…love your beautiful read❤ and such an yummy dish, love the way how u made with brown rice 🍚 looks really delightful ✌

    1. Thanks dear, you can use a vegetable oil too but then i recommend adding grated coconut say 1/2 cup to 1 cup rice while making the upma mixture. Of if you want to skip coconut as well, just make it simple and serve with chutney. It won’t have a coconut flavour and aroma to it without the oil or the grated coconut.

  6. We don’t use much brown rice in our day-to-day cooking. I’ve only used it once to create a risotto, and I sometimes use it to make dosa and pulao. Your brown rice pidi kozhukattai sounds so delish – I’ll definitely be trying it out. 🙂
    Love the picture, too – love how it is very everyday, yet gorgeous!

    1. Thank you Priya. I try and use all possible healthy produce that’s within my budget and great for everyday consumption. Brown Rice helps you stay full and I tend to use it more during the first half as its full of fibre. The main meals include hand pound rice or sometimes the simple and basic white rice too. Glad you liked the concept and styling. Thanks so much.

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