These days, whenever our younger son calls, the first thing we ask is, “what is the baby doing?” The expected answer to this question is what the baby’s progress is according to its age. This was a colloquial usage in our village. These days however, when we ask this question, the usual answer is, he is crying or sleeping or eating etc. My son knows to answer this question now and he says, he has started crawling, today he sat on his own, etc. I was always asking him, “has he crossed the threshold yet?” and the answer was “yes” one day. “We do kozhukkattai shower when the baby crosses the threshold”, I said. “What is it?”, he asked.
In the village houses where we grew up, there would be a small step between rooms. In some places like the front or back porch, there would be several steps. When the baby starts moving on its belly, at some stage it would cross this threshold between rooms. At this stage, sweet ammini kozhukkattais are prepared and offered to Kathavarayan Swamy and then a mixture of these kozhukkattais and small coins are showered on the baby’s head as he crosses the threshold. The neighbouring children are invited and they scramble for the kozhukkattais and the coins. This is an offering to Kathavarayan Swamy (literally protector God) so he would protect the baby from any fall from the steps when he is growing up. In our house, Kathavarayan Kozhukkatai was also offered to the Lord, when the baby recovers from measles or other such illness.
Kathavarayan kozhukkattai or simply, sweet ammini kozhukkattais, are small kozhukkattais made with rice flour and jaggery, and is the right sweet for the calorie conscious. No fat, no deep frying, just a steamed healthy delicacy.
I told my son how to prepare them and he in turn had a kozhukkattai shower for the baby. I prepared the kozhukkattais and offered them to Kathavarayan Swamy, here in India.
Over to the recipe. The pictures are by my son.
I have made a small change to the original recipe followed by my mother (She is sure to ask me, “who taught you to roast the rice flour?”) In the traditional recipe raw rice flour is used; I thought roasting the rice flour lightly would give a better texture to the dish.
Rice flour : 1 cup
Jaggery : 3/4 cup
Coconut pieces : 2 tsp.
Cardamom powder : 1 tsp.
Salt : a pinch
Roast the rice flour lightly. The color should not change. Melt the jaggery in 2 cups of water and strain. Boil the strained jaggery syrup. Add the coconut pieces, cardamom powder and salt. When the syrup starts to boil, add the roasted rice flour and cook until all the liquid evaporates. Cool, make into marble sized balls and steam for 10-15 minutes in a steamer. Sweet ammini kozhukkattai is ready.