13 March, 2015
Whole grain Nonbu Kozhukattai (Indian festival sweet/savory rice cake)
Tomorrow is the south-Indian festival of Karadaiyan Nonbu (or vratam in Sanskrit). A traditional festival observed by many Indian families. The women pray for the health and longevity of their husband while younger girls pray for getting a good spouse.
It used to be exciting to sit with our mother and other elder ladies in the house to chant a special prayer and eat this sweet with some butter after offering it to God. I remember as girls in school, we would discuss this with friends the following day and proudly display the little yellow thread (necklace) that we adorn during the nonbu!
Traditionally this sweet called “nonbu adai or kozhukattai” is made with toasted rice and jaggery, with some black eyed beans and coconut that also add a nice crunch. Being a whole-grain fanatic that I am, I decided to try this with brown rice instead of white rice and did a test run yesterday. The result is good, approved by the husband to be blog-worthy! A savory version is also made. So here I am, hurriedly posting these recipes so that you could try it for the festival this weekend.
How to make toasted brown rice flour:
1. Soak brown rice in water overnight or 6-8 hours. I used the brown sona masoori variety.
2. Strain through a strainer and air dry for a few minutes.
3. Toast in a pan on medium heat till it is completely dry and changes color. Set aside to cool.
4. Use a good blender or Indian “mixie” to powder it as fine as possible. Do this in small batches to get better texture.
5. Sieve to get powder of uniform particle size.
Here is a peek at the ingredients for the sweet rice cake. Note that the rice flour is made by powdering the toasted brown rice in the cup:
Whole grain Nonbu kozhukattai
To make sweet kozhukattai:
white rice flour/ brown rice flour- 1/2 cup
grated jaggery- 1/2 cup
black-eyed beans- 3 tbsp.
cardamom powder- a fat pinch
coconut pieces- 2 tbsp.
water- 3/4 cup
1. Soak beans in water for 2 hours. Cook the beans in a pressure cooker. Do not overcook.
2. Heat jaggery in a pan with 1/2 cup water. When it dissolves completely, strain to remove any dust.
3. Return jaggery solution to pan and add toasted brown rice flour, cardamom, coconut and beans.
4. Stir on low heat to make a dough. Make a ball shaped dough and flatten into circles. Make a small dent in the middle.
5. Steam in a plate/ idli vessel till cooked, about 12 minutes.
6. This is usually served with a dollop of butter. Use Earth Balance for a vegan version.
To make savory rice cakes:
Whole grain Nonbu savory rice cake
white rice flour- 1/2 cup
chopped green chilly- 1
cooked black-eyed beans- 2 tbsp.
curry leaves- a few
grated coconut- 1 tbsp.
asafoetida- a pinch
mustard seeds- 1/4 tsp.
coconut oil- 1 tsp.
salt- to taste
water- 1/2 cup
1. Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds, asafoetida. When the seeds sputter, add chillies, curry leaves and black-eyed beans.
2. Pour water and dissolve salt in it.
3. Add rice flours and stir to avoid lumps. Continue stirring till it thickens into dough.
4. Make the same shape as the sweet version and steam in a pot/ steamer.