Kozhukattai / Pidi Kozhukattai – A low oil, gluten free and steamed Breakfast Option from the South Indian Cuisine.
Brown Rice Pidi Kozhukattai
(A traditional South Indian breakfast made with coarse rice flour and few spices, steamed and served as rice balls or Dumplings. Vegan and Gluten Free)
The recipe in discussion here today, the Brown Rice Pidi Kozhukattai, was documented by me atleast 4-5 years ago when blogging was not even the faintest idea I had in mind. Cooking, however, was and continues 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 South Indians some rice for a day, we tend to get cranky or atleast I do.
My Ma always discussed with us 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 (Maternal Grandfather) 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 steel 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 in a stone grinder. 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, the Brown Rice Pidi Kozhukattai is one breakfast or south indian tiffin 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!
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 Pidi Kozhukattai (Steamed Rice balls)
Prep Time (4 hours soaking time + 15 mins of prepping the dish)
Cook Time 30 mins
Serves 2 to 3 nos.
- 1 cup Brown Rice
- 1 tsp chana dal
- ½ tsp mustard seeds
- 2-3 green chillies finely chopped
- 1-2 whole red chillies broken
- 2 tsps coconut oil
- 2 cups of water for soaking + 2 cups for cooking rice + water as required for steaming
- Sprig of curry leaves
- Salt as per taste
- Wash the Brown Rice under running water 2-3 times and then soak it for atleast 4-5 hours.
- 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.
- Once the rice has drained all the moisture, grind it in a mixer grinder into a coarse powder and keep aside.
- Heat a kadhai or non-stick pan, add oil followed by mustard seeds.
- Once they crackle, add chana dal, red and green chillies, curry leaves.
- Once the chana dal turns slightly brown, add the 2 cups of water along with salt and allow it to simmer.
- Once it reaches a boil, slowly add the coarsely grounded rice while stirring the mixture continuously to avoid lumps.
- 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.
- Allow it to cool for 15 minutes before dividing into equal portions, pressing and shaping them into balls.
- 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.
- 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.