Vigneshwara or Ganapathy as he is more popularly known is the remover of all obstacles. Chathurthi is his special day and people pray to him and offer him several goodies which they then proceed to relish. I am not very big on the fanfare associated with festivals, but I happened to go out the day before Chathurthi and saw the streets so full of people buying clay idols of Ganesha, different kinds of garlands to deck him up in, umbrellas to place on the idol.....and so many other things which I couldn't even fathom a use for. Watching the huge crowds of people thronging the streets, making last minute preparations to please Ganesha, did what nothing else could - it infused the spirit of the festival in me. I actually bought some of those garlands that I saw in the market (something that I've never done before), and then stopped at a store on the way to pick up some rice flour and jaggery - the key ingredients for making kozhakattai.
Now, even though I am not a huge fan of all the ceremonies associated with each festival, the food is something that I always enjoy.
Kozhakattai, in my parents' home is made not only during Chathurthi, but any time my grandma decides that Ganesha has to be propitiated. So, if there is a marriage in the family, a birth, a celebration, admission into a new college, a new job in the offing....well, you get the idea....anytime any one of us embarked on anything new, my grandma would promise the lord a certain number of kozhakattais. Depending on the importance of the new venture, the number would range anywhere from 101 to 1001. When DH and I got married, my mother and grandma made 1001 kozhakattais and distributed it in the neighbourhood.
To make kozhakattai you need:
For the outer cover
Rice flour - 1 cup mixed into a smooth paste with one cup of water
Water - 1.5 cups
Oil - 1 tbsp
Salt - 1/4 tsp
Heat the water and let it come to a rolling boil. Add oil, salt and the rice flour +water mixture. Reduce heat to low and keep stirring until it gets cooked and forms a smooth dough.
Set aside to cool.
For the therattipaal (inner filling)
Fresh grated coconut - 1 cup
Jaggery - 1 cup
Ghee - 1 tsp (optional)
Add a little water to the jaggery and heat until it melts. Add the grated coconut to this and keep stirring until all the moisture evaporates and the mixture starts leaving the sides of the pan. Stir in the ghee and mix well. You can also add some cardamom powder at this point, if you'd like.
To make kozhakattai
Take a small lemon sized ball of the rice flour dough. With your fingers, shape it into a thin, flat circle with a dip in the middle. Spoon some of the filling into this and then close the edges. Do this until you've used up all the dough. Steam for 10 minutes.