With the start of Navarathri today, I thought of posting nine of my mother’s recipes of some food that she typically makes during this nine-day festival. I have always been fond of Navarathri, since my childhood, and I think of all the religious festivals that my family has observed, this has been the favourite and better observed.

The nine days of the festival are dedicated to Goddesses starting with the first three days for Goddess Durga, symbolizing courage and strength, the next three days for Goddess Lakshmi, symbolizing wealth and beauty, the last three days for Goddess Saraswathi, symbolizing knowledge and wisdom. The last three days are the most special of the nine days.

To start off the Navarathri food fest, I will first share one of my favourites – Kolukkattai. This is a steamed half-moon shaped dumpling made especially during the Aadi pirappu (July 15th, which is the first of the month of Aadi in the Tamil calendar) and during the ceremony that marks the arrival of a baby’s first teeth. It is actually ‘Mothaham’, a round shaped version of the kolukkattai, that is made during Navarathri but at my home, my mother prefers to make kolukkattai generally.




Time taken: 40 – 45 mins

Makes 10




  • Green gram – ½ cup, roasted and split
  • Water
  • Wheat flour – ¾ cup
  • Rice flour – ¼ cup
  • Salt – pinch
  • Low fat oil, as required
  • Coconut –½ cup, freshly scraped
  • Jaggery – ¼ cup
  • Cardamom – 4, crushed


  1. Boil the green gram in about 1 ½ cups of water, for about 20 mins, until it is well-cooked. Add water if the liquid dries up before the gram is cooked. Drain and keep aside.
  2. Meanwhile, mix the wheat flour, rice flour and a pinch of salt. Add hot water slowly while stirring the flour mix with a spoon.
  3. Add a little oil and bring together the mixture into a ball of dough.
  4. Divide the dough into 10 small balls, adding a little oil, to have a smooth dough mix.
  5. In a pan, cook the jaggery on low heat and stir as it melts.
  6. Add the scraped coconut and quickly stir for a couple of minutes, not allowing the coconut-jaggery mixture to burn.
  7. Add the boiled and drained green gram and the crushed cardamom to the coconut-jaggery mixture. Mix and remove from heat. Let the mixture cool.
  8. Roll out each of the ten small balls of dough and spoon 1 tbsp filling in the center of the rolled out dough. Close the dough wrap over the filling in a half-moon shape, by hand or using a pre-fabricated mold shell, or into a round dumpling shape. For the ceremony that marks the arrival of the baby’s first teeth, tiny coconut chips are embedded into the dents pressed by the mold or finger along one half of the half-moon shaped dumpling.
  9. Steam the ‘kolukattai’ (the half-moon shaped) or ‘mothaham’ (the round shaped dumpling) for about 10 mins.

Recipe source: Raji Thillainathan.

5 thoughts on “Kolukkattai

    • Thank you, Deena. Both ‘kolukkattai’ and ‘mothaham’ are indeed special treats which I really like. I have once had a crispy version of the ‘mothaham’ which had been made at a nearby temple and given as ‘prasadam.’ The crispy version is uncommon in Sri Lanka, though one does come across it occasionally in some homes and particularly among the families of Hindu priests.

  1. Pingback: Mothaha Muffin Crumble | A Taste of Sri Lankan cuisine

  2. Raji, Im confused with the flour. Does wheat flour means plain white flour or chappathi flour. Should that be steamed or roasted before usage for Mothakam.
    Which rice flour be used. Is it the red rice flour or white rice flour AND Should that flour also be steamed or roasted.

    • I conveyed your questions to my mother, Uma, and this is her response – wheat flour used for mothakam is steamed plain white flour. And the rice flour can be either red or white, as long as it is roasted. Hope this helps. Let me know how it turns out. /Ahila.

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