Amma amma kozhakattai-kki kannum unndoe dee?

When my mom was here, helping me look after Narad, one of the things that I learnt quite a bit about were the cute little dittys that paati’s sing to the grandkids.   Mostly used to entertain the kids, some of them were educational also. The one I have mentioned in the header is an educational one.  The story for this goes like this –

A mother who had four kids made kozhakattai’s, 4 each, and placed them in a cheenchetti(wok kind of a vessel). The first child walks in and eats 5 instead of 4, closes the vessel and walks away. The second child eats 5 and walks away too. The third child, the most mischevious one, eats 6 and fearing the mother’s anger, puts a  frog in the cheenchetti and runs away. Now the last child comes in, the youngest one. The child does not realise that the “kozhakattai” is a frog and tries to hold it in its hand. The frog jumps away from  the child. The child then goes to it mom and says –

“Amma amma kozhakattai-kki kannum unndoe dee( amma does a modak have eyes?)

  Amma amma kozhakattai-kki vaayum unndoe dee” (amma does a modak have mouth?)

and so on, covering all the body parts.  Finally the child asks the mom

“Amma amma kozhakattai chaadum-oe di?” (amma, can a modak jump?)

and that is when the mother realises that the child has seen something else in the cheenchetti!

I have been making modak’s for Lord Ganesha for the past 5 years, and every single year they would have a life of their own. I would never be able to get the covering dough right or the poornam right. Even if everything seemed perfect, when I steamed then, the poornam would jump right out of the covering!  It was almost like they would be possessed by a frog’s spirit 🙂  This rhyme was perfect everysingle time I made the modak’s.  Even though I did not know the whole story, I did know the rhyme and I would sing it while making the kozhakattai’s.

So this year, “Project kozhakattai” was started well in advance, almost a month in advance. In aashad month, my mom offers kozhakattai’s on one of the Friday’s. I decided to try my hand at the jumpy kozhakattai and a very “jumpy” me  made the poornam. Again, the kozhakattai was a mega flop. 

For chaturthi I still wanted to go ahead and make it and asked a few sources how they went about making the elusive kozhakattai. Finally I settled on my mother’s recipe, because obviously, amma knows the best!  Laksh, the recipe all for you 🙂

For the covering –



  • 1 cup raw rice
  • 1 tablespoon maida
  • Pinch of salt.



Grind the raw rice either in mixie or grinder to a fine paste. My mom said the consistency should be that of the maavu we use for making kolam. Now since I had no clue what that consistency was, I maintained dosa batter consistency. Mix the maida into the batter and salt and leave it aside. This can be done the previous day also. On the day of making kozhakattai, pour the batter into a kadai(if non stick better, then you will not lose too much batter).  Keep stirring till the batter leaves the sides of the pan and rolls up into a ball. At this stage remove from the fire.  The next set of steps is optional , keep the ball of maavu  in a wet towel and wrap the towel round the maavu.  Let the maavu cool down. This helps breaks down any knots that might have formed in the maavu. I did not do this, instead while making the covering, I used to take little batter at a time, knead them nicely so that the knots break and used the matter to make the kinnam(covering).

Poornam for sweet


Coconut – 1/2 cup

Jaggery (no sodium one) –  3/4’s to 1 cup depending on the sweetness

Elachi powder a pinch.


Make a paagu of the jaggery(melt the jaggery and let it thicken).  It should be a  thick paagu, when you test with a little in a small bowl of water, the jaggery should automatically turn into a ball. Once the jaggery reaches this stage, put the coconut in it and keep stirring. Put the elaichi  powder and a spoon of ghee and turn off the gas. Once the poornam cools down make balls of the poornam and keep it inside the white filling. Now the kozhakattai is ready to be steamed. Place it in the steamer of your choice and steam for about 10 minutes when the kozhakattais will get a glossy appearence. This indicates that the kozhakattais are done 🙂

Poornam for savory


urad dal – 1cup

Curry leaves – 1 twig

G.chillies – per taste, usually I add as a rule 2 for each cup of dal.

salt – per taste

hing, mustard seeds – for tadka.


Soak the urad dal in water for about 3 hours. Once the dal is soft, drain all the water out and grind it along with curry leaves and the green chillies.  The batter should be coarse like adai dosa batter but not as watery as the adai dosa batter.  Add the salt to the batter. In a kadai, do the tadka of hing and mustard and pour this ground batter into the kadai. Keep stirring till the urad gets cooked and leaves the sides of the pan.  That’s it the poornam is done.  For making the kozhakattai’s follow the same steps as the sweet modak.

There done, hopefully this recipe will help you also!

Ciao for now, Rad calling 🙂




  1. September 16, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    I used to love this story 😀
    Drooling over kozhakattai nostalgia now 🙂

    Btw, do you happen to remember the story of ‘kathi pochu vaal vandhudhu doin doin doin’? 😀
    Just asking, coz I don’t remember it

    • Shankari said,

      September 16, 2010 at 1:26 pm

      🙂 I got to hear these again due to Narad! I know that one too, as in I vaguely remember my dad telling me and my sister that one while giving us dinner.. but it was more of a “dum dum dum” than a “doin doin doin” though I have to say I love the way “doin” sounds 🙂

  2. Uma said,

    September 16, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    Oh I know this story and is very very nice experience to repeat those lines – it also has a tune right?
    My MIL tells this story well and Pattu enjoys it…
    …and I’m a Kozhukattai pro *MODESTY FLIES OUT OF THE WINDOW*

    • Shankari said,

      September 16, 2010 at 1:27 pm

      Yes, it has a nice tune and I love that tune 🙂 Anyone that is a pro at kozhakattai, I bow down to them. It is such a cumbersome job and to get it perfectly is definitely an art. You are warranted in not being modest 🙂

  3. Titaxy said,

    September 16, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    oh oh I remember this one from the good old days…my paati was the one who told it to me 😀 nice memories 🙂

    i have to try making kozhakattai sometime…will come back to this page for recipe when i decide to do so.

    • Shankari said,

      September 16, 2010 at 2:41 pm

      So many good memories associated with these poems right 🙂 will look forward to reading about your kozhakattai experience.

  4. Laksh said,

    September 16, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    Thank you dee! Duly bookmarked. Not sure when I will get around to actually making it. Will definitely let you know how it comes out when I do. The maida in the maavu is a first for me. Guess that helps with the kinnam retaining the shape?

    • Shankari said,

      September 16, 2010 at 7:21 pm

      Yes, the maida does help. All the best, for whenever you try it.

  5. anisnest said,

    September 16, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    nice story though i have not heard this before. i remember the “kathi poi vaalu vandhadhu doom doom doom doom”…. my last year kozhukattai story was a big tragedy so didn’t try my hands on it this year may be some other time…

    • Shankari said,

      September 16, 2010 at 7:22 pm

      After 5 years of trying finally this time, I was successful 🙂 Every single year, the poornam would be alright but the kinnams would go for a big toss! Hopefully I have not jinxed my next batch of kozhakattai’s by gloating so much on the blog 🙂

  6. A-kay said,

    September 16, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    Same here – the maida is the first. Both my mom and MIL make the choppu (that is what we call the kinnam) maavu with the rice flour that is readily available in shops here. Back in India, I think they soak and dry the rice, grind it to a fine powder to prepare it (just like your mom mentioned). I have tried making it a few times – with both hits and misses.

    And yes, amma used to make kozhukattai during Thai and Aadi Fridays as well (is aashad month the same as aadi?). My MIL made it last month when she was here and I am kicking myself for not clicking pictures then 😦 Will try to make it, may be this weekend or so and post it too.

    • Shankari said,

      September 16, 2010 at 7:47 pm

      Choppu sounds cute 🙂 We use that word for indicating toys! The method that you mentioned is used by my manni to make the kinnams. She was one of my “kinnam making methodology” sources. I did not go her way since I felt it is a little lengthy compared to my mom’s. But I know her way of making kozhakattai’s also yield’s yummy results.

      All these years I tried making with the ready made flour, but the results were never this good. I used to fault the flour, but I guess it is a case of “Naach na jaanae aangan teda!” 🙂

      Yes, aashad is Aadi and my mom makes for Thai fridays too. So many similarities, illa? Do share photos if you make it over the weekend.

      • priyaiyer said,

        September 19, 2010 at 3:16 am

        We also use the word ‘choppu’ for the kozhakattai’s top layer. 🙂

      • Shankari said,

        September 19, 2010 at 2:43 pm

        oh! I guess that is also a pretty popular word.

  7. A-kay said,

    September 17, 2010 at 4:51 am

    We use the word for toys too and it is also used for the outer cover for Kozhukattai. I have had hits and misses with the ready made flour, so I had my doubts with the flour too. But when I saw my MIL make it effortlessly with the same flour, I know it was me and not the flour 🙂

    Yeah – so many similarities but not surprised at some level 🙂 Will definitely share pics (if and) when I make it.

    • Shankari said,

      September 17, 2010 at 6:24 am

      I guess like wine, kozhakattai making can only get better with age 🙂

  8. Swaram said,

    September 17, 2010 at 5:06 am

    We use this stuffing for making kadabus 😀 Though the covering is usually made of plain rice flour – must try ur way some time 😀

    Such stories sooo remind me of my ajji everytime 🙂 🙂

    • Shankari said,

      September 17, 2010 at 6:26 am

      Yep, I know that this stuffing is used to make kadubus, you must mean the steamed kind. I guess my mom asked me to put maida in order to help with the making of the covering. And yes, stories definitely reminds us about grandparents.

  9. priyaiyer said,

    September 19, 2010 at 3:14 am

    Oooh, thanks so much for reminding me of that childhood story. Used to love it as a kid. 🙂 Even now, I am reminded of the story whenever I see modaks. 😀

    My mom makes super kozhakattais, but I have been too scared to try them out. Thanks a ton for the recipe. Shall try it out sometime.

    • Shankari said,

      September 19, 2010 at 2:41 pm

      I was also scared to try making kozhakattais . But over the years, it has become slightly better, the kozhakattai that is. The fear still lurks 🙂

  10. priyaiyer said,

    September 19, 2010 at 3:15 am

    BTW, if you don’t mind – cheenchetti(wok kind of a vessel) = Palakaadu diction, rite? 🙂

    • Shankari said,

      September 19, 2010 at 2:42 pm

      Yes, cheenchetti is Palakkad. My tamizh is influenced by Keralite and Tirunelvelli dictions 🙂

  11. mniamma said,

    September 19, 2010 at 4:28 am

    The song brought back so many memories. My granny used to recite this in a sing-song voice and I used to love it. No photos???

  12. VV said,

    September 21, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    This time mine came out close to perfect- all other yrs its hits/misses- .- atleast as per husband who is a big food critic in our house. Made just 11 for nevidayam that we took to a maharastrian friend’s house who keep a ganesh every yr. Since in our house no pujas for this yr.
    I didnt add maida though…I made the maavu from rice flour itself. I cup rice flour mixed it with 2 cups water cold, dissolved it well by adding water slowly to get it into batter consistency then kept on gas after adding salt and two teaspoons of oil. I found this time as long as I made the modaks slowly without rushing it worked better. I kept some oil and oil/water in 2 small cups to keep dipping into to keep the maavu streching smooth without knots.
    Kozhakattai is a difficult sweet to make…although it looks simple as a process but practice makes one perfect and I tend to do these only once a yr during the festival times!
    My SIL makes perfect ones- she makes everymonth chathurti so she has perfected it!!

    • Shankari said,

      September 21, 2010 at 6:47 pm

      ah! maybe we should exchange more notes when we meet up on Friday 🙂 My SIL, brother’s wife also makes perfect ones since she makes them every month. My mom ofcourse is the best. Once when I had prayed to the Gods at the local temple that I would “chadao” kozhakattais to all of them, in total 301 were made at home by amma. The whole day paavam she made them starting in the morning at 6:00. Feel very bad when I think about all the work I put her through 😦

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