Thursday, January 2, 2014

Upma Kozhukattai / Pidi Kozhukattai

My maternal grandmother was a force to be reckoned with.  Her name was Lakshmi, but everyone called her Echchi.  We called her Echchi Patti.  She was a career woman before it was cool to be a career woman.  She valued education and instilled that appreciation for education in her children and grandchildren – or at least tried to.

She was a teacher, and never let us forget it.  She watched us like a hawk and could easily see through all our flimsy excuses.  If school ended at 3:00 and you were expected home at 3:45, she would start waiting by the gate from 3:30.  You better have a good explanation if you are late! 

Pidi Kozhukattai
Upma Kozhukattai

She mostly stayed with my aunt’s (mom’s sister) family.  Once my nephew was born, though, she stayed with us a lot, so that she could help take care of him.

My mom worked till she was 58 – so most often, when my brother and I got home, there was no one around.  It was a treat when my grandma stayed with us.  I did not have to warm up the milk to make Bournvita for my us, and we did not have to have just Marie biscuits or some other cold snack. When we got home, she would have something delicious waiting for us.

She had a standard repertoire and we would get some version of her comfort food for tiffin.  I did not appreciate the delicacies she made back then, but now wish she was still around so that I can learn some of them from her.

She would make arisi upma or the more elaborate pidi kozhukattai on several occasions.  I was not too fond of these growing up, but now, love the simplicity of the dish.  It is a traditional South Indian “tiffin” – one that you won’t typically find in restaurants.

You can eat these in a couple of bites, and since they are already flavorful, you really don't need chutneys to go with it.  It is really easy to gobble up quite a few of these without realizing how many you have eaten :)

Here is my Patti’s recipe for pidi kozhukattai.

Here is what you need:

  • 1 cup toor dal
  • 1 ½ cups idli rava (broken rice)
  • 2 tsp. oil
  • ½ tsp. mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp. channa dal
  • ¼ tsp. hing
  • 3 red chilies, broken
  • 2 green chilies, chopped
  • few curry leaves
  • salt to taste
  • ¼ cup grated coconut (optional)
  • 1 tsp. coconut oil
  • non-stick cooking spray

Here is how I made it:

  1. Coarsely powder the toor dal. Mix this with the idli rava. Set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a wok or kadai.  Add mustard seeds, channa dal, and hing.
  3. When the mustard seeds sputter, add the red chilies, green chilies, and curry leaves.
  4. Gently add 5 ½ cups of water and salt to taste.
  5. When the water comes to a boil, add the coconut and the idli rava mixture, stirring constantly making sure that there are no lumps.
  6. Cover and cook till all the water is absorbed.
  7. Heat the coconut oil and mix it in with this upma.  Turn off the heat and let it cool.
  8. Grease a few idli plates with non-stick spray.
  9. Make oblong balls of the upma with your hands and place them on the idli plates – two to three to a mould.
  10. Steam in a pressure cooker for about 10 – 15 minutes.

Serve with chutney of your choice.  I served mine with Vathal Kuzhambu.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for serving this Meenakshi! It was wonderful, and so was the vathal kuzhambu!


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