Vella kozhukattai/Kolukattai recipe (sweet Modak) | Ganesh/Vinayaka Chaturthi
I have always maintained that when it comes to the language of Food, the borders of various countries start thinning considerably. There is always some kind of connection to some food you can relate to from another region. The ingredient might differ a little, the look sort of and taste a wee bit myriad. But in the heart of it, the basic technique and the concept might be so much the same - enough to point a finger at it and say -"Hey this sounds like our recipe for (so and so)". So if you are aware of the Japanese Mochi (esp. Japanese Daifuku )- then this Indian Sweet referred to as "Modak" in Hindi , "Kozhukattai/Kolukattai" in Tamil, 'Kadubu" in Kannada which is a dumpling with assorted fillings will ring a bell. While the Mochi uses a glutinous sweet rice flour to make this, Indians use regular rice flour. Rest of the process is also quite similar - while red bean paste is used a filling (along with few others depending on the type), the Indian version also has a traditional sweet filling (with jaggery-coconut being prominent) . The cover is then stuffed with this filling and steamed.
Vella kozhukattai/Kolukattai recipe (sweet Modak) | Ganesh/Vinayaka Chaturthi
The Indian version though quite enjoyed on and oft during the year (depends on how much that particular family LOVES this - like mine;))  is especially a MUST during the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi (also called as Vinayaka Chaturthi) which is considered to be Lord Ganesha's (the Hindu Elephant God) birthday. This sweet Modak is his favorite hence its prepared with much fun fare on his day. Though paradoxically (i never was a sweet lover), I would always choose to reach out for this sweet version than the savory ones. It was mildly sweet , may be that's why! My mother would end up making the sweet version more than the savory ones since it had more takers in the house. Just like any other (make it - most) Indian Sweet Recipes, this can be little tricky to make. Vella kozhukattai/Kolukattai recipe (sweet Modak) | Ganesh/Vinayaka Chaturthi The Outer cover is one that's likely to pose an issue. Once that's done with, the filling(s) are a breeze. I have come across quite many methods for making the cover- some simple, some complex, some seemingly simple but never come out right for me etc etc. This method is followed by my mom and now by me which I find convenient. My mother is excellent when it comes to making adjustments even when something goes wrong with the traditional sweets where even small error is so unforgiving. While I am no way even quarter of her league, her tips usually save me from utter disasters. I have given few of them below for this recipe which might help you until you get comfortable without it.
  • Cook time:
  • Prep time:
  • Serves: 3 people
  • Yields: About 6-10 kozhukattai (modak) depending on the size
  • For the Cover
  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 1-1/4 cups water
  • pinch of salt
  • 1-2 tsp vegetable oil or Ghee (I use ghee)
  • For the Jaggery Coconut filling (Vella poornam)
  • 1 cup fresh coconut, grated (fresh is recommended, though you can use frozen too)
  • 3/4 cup Jaggery, powdered
  • pinch of cardamom powder (or as per taste)
1. Lets prepare the filling first. Add jaggery and coconut together in a skillet.
2. In low heat, saute until the jaggery melts and the mixture thickens. Add the cardamom to the mix and toss well.
3. Tip: If it does not thicken well, add a little rice flour along with little drops of ghee and cook further for few seconds until it thickens. While still warm, take a small piece of this filling (it will be sticky, you can grease your palms with ghee) and make a small ball.
4. Repeat for all the filling. (Its hard not to take a ball and put it in your mouth. Its addictive!!!)

Alternatively lets prepare the cover. There are two ways to go about this.

Method 1:

Traditionally raw rice is soaked for few hours, the water is drained very well and then ground into flour. This flour is used to make this recipe. For those short on time and looking for easier/quicker version, next method is for you.

Method 2:

I most often end up using this method since I find myself short on time to go about grinding the rice flour at home. So I resort to buying ready made store bought ones. If you are using Rice flour from the stores, you have to take care about few points. Sift the rice flour well - even two to 3 times. This is to remove debris etc. Set aside.

6. The quality of rice flour will vary and hence the amount of water used (instead of 1-1/4 cups) will vary. It might need more or less. So try this trick to find out what works best. Bring the recommended amount of water to boil along with salt and Ghee.
7. When its boiled, remove 1/4 cup of water and set aside. You can otherwise heat only 1 cup to boil in one skillet and another 1/4 cup or so in another skillet. Take this skillet off heat and set it in a counter.
8. Add the rice flour to the 1 cup of boiled water.
9. Using a wooden spoon give it a stir. It will be hot. It should come together into a mass all clumped together.

Tip 1: If you find that this is too dry and not sticky, then add the additional boiled water you set aside, drop by drop, until it comes together.

Tip 2: If you find this too sticky and not pliable, you can use additional few sprinkling of rice flour/maida (all purpose flour) until it does. Make sure too much flour is NOT added. The taste might get affected. That's why its preferable to go with less water and then added if needed than vice versa.

Let it sit for few minutes until its cool enough to handle. It should still be hot - only just enough to enable you to handle the dough. Dont let it get cold.  Set aside two small bowls - one with oil/ghee, another with warm water. Grease your hands with Ghee and start kneading the dough. The idea is to make it pliable - into a smooth consistency like that of chapathi dough. The difference is that while chapathi dough has gluten and will stretch, rice flour lacks the gluten and will not be stretchy. The dough will be smooth but yet slightly sticky. Can you see my fingers coated with sticky dough? Yet it looks smooth.

11. Grease your palms well and break off a small piece from the dough. You should be able to rotate the dough into an extremely smooth ball - see like below?
12. Alternate now between dipping your fingers  and greasing it with ghee and warm water for preparing the rest of the steps. Using your thumb and other fingers , make a small crater in the ball you made. Like an inverted cone. You should be using both your hands for this one ( I needed the other hand to take a shot of this step, hence you see my right hand is missing but I used it nevertheless to make that depression;)).
13. Slowly rotate  and go around making this crater until it looks little bigger like this one. You are need to make sufficiently big enough to be able to drop in the rounds of filling you made earlier.
14. Drop the sweet filling you made into the depression.
15. Very slowly brings the ends together over the top of the filling. Be gentle.
16. Bring it together so that you can pinch the top, sealing the filling.  Pinch to make a small horn.
17. You can always pinch off excess dough.
18. And shape the remaining to look like a beak. Or if you are one of those lucky ones who has been able to get their hands on these Modak/Kozhukattai moulds (see this picture from Hot and Sweet bowl site), then consider cutting down on the preparation time by half. Or you can use the other shape to make these - The crescent shaped (semi-circle to be more precise) ones - See the step by step pictorial for making those
19. Repeat with rest of the dough. Now steam them for about 10-15 minutes. You know its done when the color slightly changes and the cover becomes little translucent.
Once done, remove and drizzle some ghee on top of it (this is optional, of course) and enjoy it warm/hot. Vella kozhukattai/Kolukattai recipe (sweet Modak) | Ganesh/Vinayaka Chaturthi See the cross section of this yummy dumplings? Chewy sweet morsels from  heaven - no wonder its Lord Ganesha's favorite! Vella kozhukattai/Kolukattai recipe (sweet Modak) | Ganesh/Vinayaka Chaturthi

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21 Member Reviews

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By Meenu on Aug 28, 2014

I followed step by step as you guided and I could prepare the tasty sweet modak.Thanks for guiding and teaching even the minute details.

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By Kalai on Sep 7, 2013

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By Leila on May 23, 2015

the detailed instructions are so helpful, thank you

By FRANCISCA ANN on Sep 20, 2014

Wonderful recipe.. Just one little doubt. I wanted to try making the cover like kara kozhukattai's shape. Can I use the same method for that as well?

Yes, you can. In fact I have done the same using this cover. See this - Uppu/Khara Kozhukattai --DK

By Shiks on Nov 18, 2013

Hello, I came across your website when looking for Dal Makhani recipe. I made it as per your instructions and it was finger licking good. I will be making that more often now. Just tried the modaks. I have always wanted to make these and gave them a try today. My modaks are still on steam so will let you know soon how they turned out. Thanks for your beautiful website.

By mala on Sep 12, 2013

Thanks they came out well.but many of them had cracks inthe outer covering. Could you help us with this

By Three Ganesha Chaturthi recipes. Must Try! | Cinnamon lace on Sep 9, 2013

[...] Modak/Kozhukkattai is a sweet that is specially prepared on this day, because it is believed to be Lord Ganesha’s favourite sweet. It is also believed that the shape of modak denotes Ganesha’s trunk; it actually looks like it. The Ganesha puja is ended by offering 21 modaks to the god and later distributed as Prasad. [...]

By JAGAN on Sep 9, 2013


By sathya on Sep 9, 2013

Will try this today for chaturthi

By rajitha on Sep 9, 2013

kozhukattai receipe is sothappal for me this time I don't know what mistake I am doing .I followed the same procedure

By Nithya on Sep 8, 2013

Thanks much DK for the recipe and more specifically for the tips! My "about to be an accident" turned out as "Awesome Kozhukattais". Wonder how you manage to do keep up your website with a kid and job!

By kalaiselvi sasikumar on Sep 7, 2013

Dear DK, Last year after lots of prayer i made this recipe,& it came out very well... My dream(!!!)of making Kozhukattai came true...My lil son & my nephew loved it sooo very much.Ur step by step pictorial explanation makes us to follow more clearly :-D Thank You Waiting for ur newer recipes. Luv, Kalai.

By kol on Aug 27, 2013

its nice,and tasty :wink: :) :-D

By Dhvani on Mar 23, 2013

(The last time i made modaks it was a complete flopshow)This recipe is so good. It doesnt leave any room for error. I have shaped the modaks and they have turned out absolutely perfect. I am still to steam them, but thought of first thanking you for the effort of putting up this recipe with so much detail and with so many pictures.. I will now go on and steam a few of the lot and refrigerate the remaining.

By Axie on Sep 19, 2012

Hi my dough cover got sticky and broke while making it. What is the reason? Is it excess water? Also the filling was not so hard a little liquidy. What went wrong. Again should salt be added to the cover as it is a sweet dish?

The cover will be sticky. You would need to first make a smooth ball and gently fill in with the filling. As for the filling being liquidy, you should have cooked it a bit longer for it to thicken. A pinch of salt will help to bring out the sweetness further. Since you are not using a lot, it will not taste salty at all --DK

By Nirmala on Sep 19, 2012

:-P Dear DK Thank you so much for posting this recipe....I followed it to the t....the step by step pics made it easy to follow and it turned out abs yummy. And both my mother who was not sure i could do it, and my husband who does not like Indian sweets...really tucked into it. happy Ganesha Chathurthi to all.

I am so glad to hear that Nirmala. Happy Vinayaka Chaturthi to you and yours :) --DK

By MK on Sep 19, 2012

DK - I've used your recipe twice to much success, including today Ganesh Chaturthi! Thanks so much for sharing. My mom, who has never made these is now envious that I know how to make them :wink:

LOL - that must be such a proud moment. I am so happy to hear the outcome. Happy Chaturthi to you and your family :) --DK

By Madhu on Sep 18, 2012

You made my Vinayagar Chathurthi very sweet with your modaham recipe. It came out very well.Thanks and Vinayaga Chathurthi wishes.

Extremely glad to hear that Madhu :) Happy Vinayaga Chaturthi :) --DK

By bina on Sep 18, 2012

:) hi..can i use okda rice....boiled rice..soaked n ground at home..

By aarthi on Sep 18, 2012

Can i make these kolukattais the previous night and steam them the next day?

By P Rathnakumari on Sep 17, 2012

Hi DK, I made this kozhukattai last year by this method turned out very well. Thank u .

I am glad to hear that :) Happy Vinayaka Chaturthi --DK

By SREEJA on Sep 14, 2012

They were quite good. my husband who is quite finicky also liked them. the last tme i made them did not turn out well

By Prathima on Sep 12, 2012

Hey DK, Normally the jaggery will have impurities in them. Can we dissolve it in little water, drain and then use.? How do u suggest we remove them for making the poornam?

Definitely yes. If you see my posts for Akkaravadisal and vella seedai (and quite a few others I think ) i would have placed the jaggery in some hot water for it to melt and then strained it. This straining helps to remove the debris --DK

By kamala on Aug 2, 2012

please reply if i made in maida it is very hard why

By s.saraswathi on Jul 27, 2012

:oops: its look very nice. i will try this tonight.

By Honey on Jul 25, 2012

I made this last year for a puja and turned out very well. This year I am coming back via my bookmark!! Have to make it again. The instructions and pictures were very easy to follow Keep up the great work.

Thank you so much for the feedback. :) Glad to hear that--DK

By buzybi on Dec 3, 2011

I made with ready made rice flour from the store. I kept the dumplings on a plantain leaf in the steamer and steamed them. :-D They turned out very yummy. In no time they got over.

By buzybi on Dec 3, 2011

I made with ready made rice flour from the store. I kept the dumplings on a plantain leaf in the steamer and steamed them. :wink: :wink: :wink: They turned out very yummy. In no time they got over.

By Martha on Nov 19, 2011

:?: I would like to make these to give as a gift. Will it work ok for me to refrigerate them before steaming, and give them that way so the recipient can steam them just before serving? How long would they hold between making them and steaming them?

I have never done it this way hence not really sure. Something tells me the storing time might make this rubbery but I may be wrong. If I get to know anything about this, will surely get back to you

By Harini Priya on Sep 2, 2011

Thanks a lot for this recipe, I tried this for the first time ever for vinayaka chaturthi and it came out really well. I dono much abt the dishes we usually cook for south indian festivals, but thanks to you, you make sure the recipe is there for us on time before each festival :) The way you list down each step and the exact measurement of ingredients all make it really simple and easy for us to follow. I used to feel bad during festivals that my mom is not near to guide me, but feel your site is there to do that for us. :) :) Thanks again!!!!!

By deepasarath on Sep 1, 2011

super narrative:-).It came out very well.thanks a lot. :wink:

By Krithika on Aug 31, 2011

Hi DK, I hve never seen my mom making Kozhukattais. So I have never even attempted these. But I went ahead and went with this recipe and it came out good (not great since I was also watching my 3 yr old-multi tasking not good when making traditional recipes). Thank you for the step-by-step recipe which really motivated me to try this. From now on, I will be making this for every vinayaka chathurthi :)

Thank you so much Krithika for trying these out. I can empathize with you about cooking traditional dishes will watching kids! Mine is not even a year old and I am already hard pressed to do cooking that takes more than 30 minutes. I have to depend on my other half to watch over him if I want to make something as simple as parathas. So I can imagine your plight. But kudos to you for making these while multitasking. You must be an expert :)

By Preethi BR on Aug 31, 2011

:wink: Hi, The recipe looks yummy, nice narration. Thanks Preethi

By Rupa Lakshminarayan on Aug 30, 2011

Hi, I tried to print this recipe using the icon on top of this page but i printed only the 1st page upto point # 5 (this happened for a few other recipes also such as Vella Seedai. Can you pls check why this is happening. I then copy pasted other points on word and then printed thanks - Rupa

By lakshmi neelambaran on Aug 30, 2011

absolutely exquisite demo.very nice & thank u

By RESHMA on Aug 29, 2011

"Its hard not to take a ball and put it in your mouth. Its addictive!!!)" VERY CUTE NARRATIVE :-P :lol: tHANKS A LOT

By Hello on Jul 21, 2011

8) wow wow!!! what a recipe!!! it came out tooo good. The preparation method given was soooo perfect.Everyone at my home loved it....Thanks a lot!!

By cooking rookie on Apr 24, 2011

They look gorgeous! I tried making rice flour dumplings and failed miserably. I have to try your recipe. Thanks for sharing!

By N Kumar on Apr 17, 2011

So tempting

By Krithika on Mar 15, 2011

hey DK. i just made these yummy kozhukattais. for a first attempt, these came out quite decently, and i ve already gobbled a few. :) mine were bigger than the lovely cute ones in ur picture, the taste was gud though. I never would have got the courage to attempt this, but for your step by step pics. just love your site. great job!!

By Janani on Jan 5, 2011

I made these kozukattai now. The outer part and the puranam came out perfect. But I couldn't shape them correctly. When I tried to make a dent in the middle it was about to tear,and I ended them making big sized. Can you tell me where I went wrong?

By Uppu Kozhukattai (Savoury Modak) : UK Asian on Sep 26, 2010

[...] savory version that I mentioned in my previous post for Sweet Modak is this one called as “Uppu Kozhukattai” or “Ulundhu  Kozhukattai” in [...]

By RV on Sep 11, 2010

I have the same question as sr. Can we use brown sugar instead of jaggery? If so, how much? Brown sugar is much easier to use than jaggery and more hygienic. But tastewise, jaggery is the best. Thanks for answering my question.

Usually substitute for Jaggery would be equal amount of brown sugar. I have personally never tried with brown sugar hence I cannot assure you of the proportions. :)

By RV on Sep 11, 2010

I have the same question that sr has asked. Just want to know if we can use brown sugar? If so, how much? Brown sugar is always much easier to use than jaggery and also much more hygienic. Of course jaggery tastes so much better than brown sugar. Thanks for answering my question.

By sr on Sep 10, 2010

can we substitute the jaggery with brown sugar? if yes, can u give me the proportions for that?

Usually substitute for Jaggery would be equal amount of brown sugar. I have personally never tried with brown sugar hence I cannot assure you of the proportions. :)

By Radhika Vasanth on Sep 9, 2010

Love the prop in the first few pics. The red shade goes well with those modaks. Drool

By malini on Sep 7, 2010

my favourit. nice kolakattai sweet and salt. thank you for sharing this

By lakshmi anand on Sep 6, 2010

hi dk, i used to prepare the outer covering in other method also. just soak the rice for 1 to 2 hrs. wash and drain the water grind it using half amt of water to rice(looks like dosa mavu in consistency), add little salt.In kadai add the other half amt of water when it starts boil and 1 spn. of till oil. now add the mavu stir it well so no lumps are formed stir well till thick and not sticky.

By Naive on Sep 5, 2010

hi im repeating my question.. can the steaming part be done in microwave as well? if yes, kindly instruct. Thanks in advance. eagerly waiting for response

I am guessing you can. I don't use M/W for cooking hence I am not sure...But I have read that you can steam this using the steamer container that you get along with your m/w. Place like 1/2 cup of water in that the steamer on top - dip each modak in water for a second and place them in the tray. In med power steam for about 5 minutes (depends on your m/w) covered. Remove, let it sit for few minutes, spray again with water and serve. Again - let me repeat, I have not personally used this method and am just repeating what I was told.

By Siri on Sep 5, 2010

Love the last pic. So cute. :-D Siri

By Cumin Coriander on Sep 5, 2010

These are the most amazing kozhukattai pictures ever!

By Priya on Sep 5, 2010

Just love modaks anytime, looks beautiful..

By Sayantani on Sep 5, 2010

beautiful post and a very good step by step explanation.

By nishi on Sep 5, 2010

Hey DK, The Kadubus look very tempting. I made them for Nagapanchami. Inspite of me eating so many of them. I've begun to yearn for them again.

By notyet100 on Sep 5, 2010

i m gng to try this,..will let u knw

By Poppy on Sep 5, 2010

Hi I tried making these last year everything was perfect except that the white outer covering became all runny after steaming. thought it wasn't cooked long enough and continued steaming for some more time which resulted in a bigger mess. Anyhow as the dish was tasty it didn't go waste. I need to know what went wrong. Is there a specific time for steaming... I don't mind long as the food retains its taste and shape.

There is actually no specific timing - it depends on mostly the look and feel. I would say anywhere between 6-15 minutes. You know its done when the outer covering starts glistening (shiny), sort of moist and slightly translucent - u can actually see through the inside stuffing lightly..I think may be your outer covering was too thin or something that it broke apart...Don't make it too thin nor too thick for this type of modak. Hope this helps

By Finla on Sep 5, 2010

When ever i go back home one of the things my mom make for me is this and the ada. Wish i could grab few . Perfect.

By Naive on Sep 4, 2010

can the steaming part be done in microwave as well? if yes, kindly instruct. Thanks in advance.

By sss on Sep 4, 2010

I have always ended up with hard outer layer(I mean the rice flour part) and I always do the same way as u suggested.Whats up with me. :-| Any tips?

I am not sure exactly why but logically I am thinking it could be cos of two things (or any one ) - Your outer layer is v thick and that you are steaming for a long time. The outer layer is generally little thinner - you should be able to see that it becomes almost translucent when its steamed. Too thick can make it feel little harder. Also too much steaming might make the cover more rubbery instead of just chewy and soft. Check at 6-7 minutes to see if it changes color/translucent until you know how long it takes for you. Steaming can take anywhere from 6-15 minutes. Hope these help :)