The filling is from a rice dumpling recipe handed down from my mother. Traditionally known as "kozhakattai" (learning to pronounce this word correctly involves a graduate-level tutorial; the "z" in the word is not pronounced as in zebra!!), these steamed dumplings are made with a cooked rice flour dough and filled with primarily three different fillings, 1. a sweet one with coconut, 2. a spicy filling made from "urad" dal, and 3. a sweet/spicy combination made with sesame & jaggery (gud). Learning to make these is an art in itself—while steaming them to perfection without having the thin rice flour dough crack and disintegrate is pure science in my opinion!

I've used the sweet & spicy filling with commercially available dumpling wrappers, and deep-fried them. They're soft and chewy when fresh, and warm with the flavors of nutty sesame and earthy jaggery, interspersed with the tiniest hints of red chile heat and salt. It's the toasted red chile that commands attention in this snack, asserting itself sharply against the comforting sesame and jaggery. of As they cool, the dumpling dough tends to crisp up and can be stored in an airtight container for 2 to 3 days.


5 tablespoons white sesame seeds
1/2 dried red chile, deseeded and lightly toasted
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 to 3 tablespoons crumbled jaggery (gud) or muscovado sugar
15 to 16 round dumpling wrappers
Oil for deep frying


Step 1
Using a mortar and pestle, crush the toasted red chilli into a coarse powder. Set aside.

Step 2
Toast the sesame seeds until they turn lightly brown and begin emitting a nutty aroma. While still warm, pulse the seeds using a coffee grinder until they resemble bread crumbs.

Step 3
Add the ground red chile and salt to the coarsely powdered sesame. Mix to combine.

Step 4
Add the crumbled jaggery (gud). Using your fingertips, gently incorporate into the sesame mixture until the jaggery has softened and is dispersed evenly. The mixture should be grainy and barely sticky to the touch. (Sample the mix at this point. The nutty sesame should be the dominating flavor and seem slightly under-sweetened. Resist the temptation to add more jaggery, since the deep-frying process will melt the jaggery and accentuate the sweetness).

Step 5
Place 2 teaspoons of the mix in the center of a dumpling wrapper. Moisten the edges of the wrapper and seal eliminating any air pockets. Press and seal with the tines of a fork along the semicircular circumference.

Step 6
Heat oil in a wok (or deep-sided pan) and deep-fry the stuffed dumplings in batches until golden brown (about a minute on each side). Remove and place on paper towels to absorb extra oil.