Sunday, September 12, 2010

Ammini Kozhakattai

This Saturday morning at my house was filled with hectic activity for Vinayaka Chathurthi celebrations - for the revered elephant headed Hindu god Ganesha, symbolizing prosperity and removing all obstacles to success. This was my maiden attempt at making Ganesha's favorite food - the "Modaka" or "Kozhakattai".

Kozhakattai is a steamed dumpling : a cute little package with a rice flour wrapper and a little something inside. They are stuffed with "Poornam" - a sweet filling made of coconut and jaggery, or sesame and jaggery, or a savory lentil mixture. They all taste delicious, in my opinion.

Now making Kozhakattais is no walk in the park.. I'm sure everyone has had their share of doughy kozhakattais, or ones that develop an unsightly crack after steaming and oozing the stuffing. Anyone who has tried making Kozhakattais will tell you that the trick lies in making soft and pliable dough. I'm far from perfecting the kozhakattai dough, so I'll steer clear of blogging about it for now. What I wanted to write about today(finally!) was actually a tasty by-product of Ganesh chathurthi. Usually families are left with extra kozhakattai dough and end up making Ammini Kozhakattai that evening for that forgotten meal : "tiffin".

The dough is shaped into little balls, steamed, then sauteed with seasoning. It isn't everyone's cup of tea - my significant other R doesn't seem to enjoy it very much, but I like it. It reminds me of my childhood. I was left with a whole lot of leftover dough, so made some Ammini Kozhakattai. I combined some of the leftover filling of the "Uppu Kozhakattai"(the savory kind) with the steamed rice balls and that added some crunch and extra flavor. Making the "Ammini Kozhakattais" is a fun activity, and the entire family can be involved in rolling out these tiny balls. Also, it is much easier to roll out these "Collateral Kozhakattais" as R calls them, compared to making the regular kozhakattais, so I might make more of these than the regular ones!

Rice flour dough balls, ready to be steamed
Steamed balls, sauteed with mustard, green chillis, asafoetida, curry leaves and the lentil mixture(optional).

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Coffee Banana Icecream

A couple of years ago, when my dear friend H gifted me an ice-cream maker as a wedding present I was thrilled with the possibilities... home-made ice-cream during the summer, philadelphia-style, without nasty preservatives. Since then, I've experimented with simple ice-creams, adding fruits on hand with cream, milk and sugar. I've tried coffee ice cream before.. it was simple enough - mix cream/milk/half-and-half with instant coffee and sugar, and churn away. The last time I went for a mocha flavor and added chocolate shavings toward the end of the freezing process.

An unusual combination struck me this time . I love bananas (Ahem! Is there a monkey gene somewhere trying to express itself?)  - I love most fruits and all the unique flavors but the banana is my comfort fruit, if you know what I mean. Anyway, I decided to throw in a mashed ripe banana with the coffee and I loved it. I can see people going "yuck!" at this combination, but if you like bananas or have an adventurous palate, I'd say this is worth trying.


3 C Half-and-half (or any combination of milk and cream you prefer)
3/4 C Sugar (Will reduce this to 1/2 C next time, and yes, there will be a next time!)
4 T Instant Coffee
1 large Banana, mashed
1 T Honey

Chill the half-and-half thoroughly. Mix together the sugar, coffee and one cup half-and-half, until the sugar and coffee dissolve completely. Add the rest of the half-and-half, and stir until thoroughly combined. Freeze, following the ice cream maker's instructions. Meanwhile, mash one large banana with the honey and add in the final stages of churning. Freeze at least for an hour before serving. I can see toasted almonds being a nice garnish for this ice cream.