Uppuma Kozhakattai or steamed rice dumplings is typical breakfast fare in Palakkad Iyer homes. These dumplings are made from soaked and coarsely powdered rice. The powdered rice is cooked to a dough like consistency with some spices, then rolled into dumplings. These egg sized dumplings make for a healthy and filling meal.
Kozhakattai (also spelled Kozhukattai) is a generic name for any steamed dumpling in my native cuisine. Usually Kozhakattai brings to mind the more popular festive sweet dumpling filled with a jaggery-cardamom-coconut mixture. This Kozhakkattai is made during the festival of Vinayaka Chathurthi. Uppuma Kozhakattai though also a steamed dumpling, is savoury. It is shaped after making an “Uppuma“, which is some what like a polenta made from coarsely powdered rice.
It is a slightly time consuming process to make these steamed dumplings but not difficult. You can make them in 2 or 3 stages which makes the whole process much easier. I make them for breakfast of course, but often serve them for dinner as well. The dumplings can be partially cooked and shaped half a day or a day head and then refrigerated. Then steam cook them just before you’re ready to serve them.
We usually make Uppuma Kozhakottai with raw (unprocessed) white rice. You can also make it with unpolished red rice for a more nutritious steamed dumpling. The brown coloured Uppuma Kozhakottai in the picture above have been made with Rajamudi rice which is a heritage Indian rice. These steamed dumplings can also be made with boiled/ parboiled rice. the process is lightly different and the taste subtly different, but is material for another post.
Uppuma Kozakkottai is usually served with a coconut chutney and/ or sambhar. I’m including the recipe for one of the coconut chutneys I make for breakfast. The chutney I make often depends on what I have on hand. This particular recipe is a bit different from the traditional coconut chutney we make. The addition of the onion and carrot gives it a mild sweetness and also means using less of coconut in it. You can further cut down on the amount of coconut, by almost half, by substituting some toasted/ browned split gram (“pottukadalai” in Tamil).