Kozzhukattai: The South Indian Dish That Is Deep-Rooted In Folklore
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It’s a winter morning in the South Campus of Delhi University and I, along with my friends was chatting over some Chai and Aloo Parathas. The random chat took over to some of the most famous regional folklores that we have grown up listening to. Although all the stories went past my memory, this one story is something I have remembered till today. Maybe because- 1) it is related to food and 2) I almost died laughing at it. One of my Tamil friends told us this story that is regionally called ‘Athiribacha Kozhukattai’.

It is believed that a newly married man in some Tamil village ate a Kozhukattai learned the name for the first time. To tell his wife the name of the dish, he constantly repeated the name on his way back home. However, the man leaped across a small stream on his way and forgot the name of the dish. Upon reaching home, he told his wife that he relished ‘Athiribacha’ and ordered her to make it for him. The innocent lady, unable to make sense of what her husband was saying, asked him about the dish again. The patriarchal husband got furious and started beating his wife. A neighbour came to her rescue and exclaimed that the lady’s forehead was swollen like a Kozhukattai. That’s when the man sprung up and said that is what he wants to eat.

The dish- Kozhukattai holds great cultural importance in Tamil Nadu and is relished on various religious occasions. The rice dumpling is made with a stuffing of mainly two types- a sweet one made with jaggery and coconut and a savoury one made with yellow gram. The preparation begins with soaking raw rice in water, drying, powdering, and later roasting it. This roasted rice powder is then cooked in water to form a dough and is stuffed with the desired mixture and steamed.

The dish is widely relished during Ganesh Chaturthi by Tamil Hindus. Certain Christian communities make this dish on Saturday that precedes Palm Sunday. Some people confuse it with Modak but both of them are different on some grounds. Kozhukattai comes in several varieties and is more versatile.

So, the next time you eat a Kozhukattai, don’t forget to thank the South Indian ancestors to have made this dish and appreciate the efforts of the makers.