Upma Kozhakottai ~ Steamed Rice and Lentil Balls
Upma Kozhakottai

Well! We just proved we are human. The team has been dysfunctional for sometime due to many things happening in our respective lives. In my case, I was on a blog break and connecting with the real world. It took me a while to dust lethargy off, but here I am, kick starting the winter with a traditional and healthy dish!

The advent of quick two minute recipes have put an end to some delightful and traditional recipes. These dishes end up being talked about but hardly ever made. Upma kozhakottai is one such Tamilian dish that seems to be fast receding into history. When my daughter took it to school for 'lunch', her friends found it new. Even those who belong to Tamil Nadu had never heard of it. I was surprised and I knew that the next time I prepared upma kozhakottais I would record the making in full detail because this dish is not only traditional but is very nutritious and easy to make. I took most of these pictures last year when I visited my parents. It is easier to take pictures of work in progress when someone else does the cooking. Some have been taken in my house.

Recipe: Upma Kozhakottai ~ Steamed Rice and Lentil Balls
Preparation Time : 1 hour including time taken to soak and grind rice and lentils
Serves : 28 to 30 Nos.
Recipe Level:Intermediate
Recipe/Post by: Sunshinemom


To grind:
Raw rice (any variety) - 1.5 cups
Tuvar dal (split pigeon peas), moong dal (split green gram) and chana dal (split bengal gram) - 1.5 tsp. each (optional but recommended)
Black pepprcorns - 8 to 10 Nos.

To season:

Upma Kozhakottai ~ Steamed Rice and Lentil Balls
Seasoning Ingredients for Upma Kozhakottai

Mustard seeds (Rai) - 1 tsp.
Split bengal gram (Chana dal) or Split black gram (Urda dal) - 1 tbsp.
Green chillies, finely chopped - 1 tbsp.
Ginger, finely chopped - 1 tbsp.
Curry leaves, finely chopped - 1 tbsp.
Asafoetida powder - A generous pinch
Salt - 2 tsp. or to taste
Coconut, freshly grated - 1 cup
Sesame Oil - 4 to 5 tbsps. (Any other neutral oil can be used though this is the traditionally used variety)


The Powder:
  1. Wash rice well and drain water out completely. Set aside for 15-20 minutes.
  2. Wash dal, drain and grind to a coarse powder separately or along with the rice and with peppercorns. In some regions dal is not used in this preparation. However, my mom's family has always used it because of the flavour and the nutrition. Measure the mixture in cups after powdering. The amounts of rice and dal used in this recipe yields about 3.5 to 4 cups.
Do not delete ~ For BC
Rice and Dal mix

The product:
  1. Heat oil in a heavy, wide wok. When oil is hot pop in the mustard seeds. As soon as they splutter add the dals followed by the green chillies, ginger and curry leaves. When the chillies turn a shade darker add asafoetida followed by salt.
  2. Add 6 cups of water. The water should be about 1.5 times the cup measure of ground mixture.
  3. Add the coconut and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 5 minutes, adding salt to taste.
  4. Add the ground rice and dal mixture in a steady stream into the boiling water, all the while stirring the water, so that lumps do not form.
  5. The mixture will start forming a batter. Keep folding and stirring till the mixture turns almost dry and forms a sticky dough. [Picture below]
  6. Cool the batter till you can handle it - to room temperature.
  7. Pinch some of the dough and form an oblong ball gathering it in your fist. Just bounce it lightly in your fist and apply a little pressure, shaping all the while into a neat rugby shaped ball. Repeat till all the batter is used up. The size depends on your liking. Mine measures about 2.5 inches in length and about 1 or 1.5 inches in width.
  8. Steam in small batches in a traditional steamer or cooker for about 10-12 minutes. On opening the steamer, if you find that the surface of the kozhakattais or balls are gleaming, consider them done.
  9. Serve with coconut chutney, molagapodi or sambar.
Do not delete ~ For BC
Batter formed after cooking rice and dal mixture

Special Notes/Tips:
  • The step involving grinding of the rice and dal can be done a week ahead. The powder can be stored to make kozhakottais as and when needed. If making ahead, do not soak the rice or dal as the moisture will lead to spoilage. However, I recommend making the fresh powder as the moisture helps in making a softer and tastier product.
  • The kozhakottais can be made with or without the dal. You can also use any one dal instead of the combination.

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  1. Pushpa // 18 December 2010 at 08:17  

    Upma Kozhakottai looks Yum!!

  2. Xiaolu // 18 December 2010 at 10:12  

    Gorgeous photos, Harini! Especially the top and bottom. I'm always amazed and delighted by the wonderful variety of dishes made using rice and lentils in Indian cuisine. Wish I could taste this right now!

  3. Archana // 18 December 2010 at 18:53  

    I am bookmarking this! it looks amazing!

  4. Hari Chandana // 19 December 2010 at 13:37  

    Sounds interesting.. nice and lovely clicks :)

  5. vasantha // 22 December 2010 at 14:01  

    harini this is my favourite.i often prepare using idli rava

  6. Harmanjit // 22 December 2010 at 17:25  

    Great dish! we would say. We need to preserve the traditional Indian cuisine which is healthy, nutritious & tasty at the same time! Even we were surprised by reading that even those who belong to Tamil Nadu had never heard of it!

    Thanks a lot for posting this recipe! Continue your good work!

    Soul Care,

  7. Chow and Chatter // 9 January 2011 at 02:59  

    lovely post your a credit to your State so well presented

  8. Sonia // 21 January 2011 at 19:39  

    A very new and different recipe. we had steamed idlis and dhokla but never upma....wow !!!!!!

  9. cajunlicious // 6 April 2011 at 22:29  

    Just found your wonderful blog! New follower!

    - Jessica
    (All Things Cajun)

  10. Shobha // 24 April 2011 at 04:12  

    Nice and different recipe.
    Please collect FOOD MAZAA AWARD from my blog, which is for all my blogger friends.

  11. Now Serving // 27 April 2011 at 01:07  

    I love this kind of upma kozhakattais- we make this too with arusi upma! mouth is watering for some now :)

  12. Zareena // 4 May 2011 at 21:57  

    Thank you Srivalli, Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving your lovely comment.
    I ate this upma kozhakottai once and it tasted lovely. I loved it a lot.