Kakka Orotti with Basmati Rice | Steamed Mini Rice Balls in Chicken Gravy

For the authentic version of Kakka Orotti using ponni rice, please check the latest post linked here. The recipe shared in this post uses Basmati rice and tastes equally good.

This blog turns two today. :-) I hadn’t planned anything for the occasion but took a moment to read my first blogoversary post. Much of what I mentioned there holds true even today with the same magnanimity. The past year has been an amazing journey with all kinds of delicious food and not so delicious food, emotions and long travelogues, and then Ragee!

Even though I am not so concerned with the stats of the blog, I will be lying if I said I never checked the numbers. They are the next biggest motivators after followers. They are also my sole indicator that tells me when I need to publish my next post :-P Yeah, the lazy-me waits for the stats to dip to get a new post up. I know that is not a good blogger attitude, but blame it on my depleting drafts! :-P 

For the first blogoversary, I gave MLY a new look, a fig chocolate cake and a guest post from lovely Raf. This year, I am sharing my all-time favourite Malabar dish that we call Kakka Orotti. It is a dish from my part of the world and one that's known by many other names like Aanapathal, pidi, aanaorotti, kunjipathal, undio, pinde, etc. The difference in name is largely depending on the region of origin in the southern state of India - mostly Kerala and coastal Karnataka. They are known differently and also are made differently except that all of it uses rice for the balls, are steam cooked and are folded into a prepared curry.

Kakka Orotti | Steamed Mini Rice Balls in Chicken Gravy

Kakka Orotti recipe here is closest to our family recipe except that here I have used basmati rice to prepare the dough. Traditionally done with Pachari (I still cannot figure out which ones are pachari :-P)  I made a few changes with a few great tips I received from a loving friend's mom from Kasargod. More details at the end of the post...

The numerous tasks involved in making Kakka Orotti will seem overwhelming, but trust me it is not as complicated as it looks or sounds. All you need is a to plan according to your schedule to serve this delicacy.

The quantity here is enough for 2 or 3 hungry tummies.

Kakka Orotti | Steamed Mini Rice Balls in Chicken Gravy


For the mini steamed rice balls:
1 and 1/2 cup basmati rice (or any long grain should work)
1 cup fresh grated coconut
1 and 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 medium onion, diced roughly
1/4 cup water (approx)
3 tablespoon rice flour (approx)
Salt to taste

For the ground coconut paste:
2 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon rice (same as you used for the dough)
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 -3 green cardamoms (optional)
3 cloves (optional)
1/2 an inch piece of cinnamon stick (optional)
3/4 cup grated coconut
up to 2 cups water

For the Chicken Gravy:
2 tablespoon sunflower or coconut oil
1 large onion, chopped finely
1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
1 large chopped tomato
2 teaspoon Kashmiri chilli powder
1 tablespoon coriander powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
500 gms chicken breasts cut into cubes
1 cup water
Prepared coconut paste
1/2 teaspoon garam masala powder
fistful curry leaves


Prepare the dough

Kakka Orotti | Steamed Mini Rice Balls in Chicken Gravy

  1. Wash, rinse and soak the rice in water for 3-4 hours
  2. Drain and add the rice into the large jar of a mixer-grinder, and grind it along with minimal water to a coarse and grainy mixture
  3. Now, open and add fresh grated coconut, fennel seeds and roughly chopped onions and grind for few more seconds (the mixture is not smooth, we just need to bring all together in a coarse texture)
    1. I had to grind in two batches for even texture as my mixer grinder jar was not big enough. 
  4. Transfer the mixture into a bowl and add salt and start adding rice flour little by little until you are able to make the mixture into a non-sticky dough. You should be able to pinch a little and make balls that don't fall apart or too sticky. (Cover and keep it until needed)
Make Kaka Orottis (small coin sized balls with a dent) and steam them:

Kakka Orotti | Steamed Mini Rice Balls in Chicken Gravy

Kakka Orotti | Steamed Mini Rice Balls in Chicken Gravy
  1. Grease your steamer vessels (I used Idly pans) lightly with oil
  2. When you are ready to prepare the kaka orottis,  rub both your palms and fingers with oil and take a handful of the dough, roll it between your hands into a log shape. Keep the log shaped dough on your left hand and pinch a small portion and roll in into a ball on the left-hand palm. Press it lightly in the middle to make a dent and keep them on the pan. 
  3. Repeat this until the steamer pan is filled with these balls 
  4. Steam cook for 10 minutes until done. You will notice that the become hard when done. 
  5. Transfer them to a container and repeat until all of the dough is used up. 
Prepare the coconut paste: 

Kakka Orotti | Steamed Mini Rice Balls in Chicken Gravy

  1. Heat oil in a wide frying pan
  2. Add raw rice, green cardamom, cloves and cinnamon and sauté until rice puffs up and you get the rich aroma of the spices
  3. Add fennel seeds and grated coconut and sauté again until the coconut starts turning golden
  4. Let it cool and then grind with water to make it into a smooth paste 

Prepare the chicken gravy:

Kakka Orotti | Steamed Mini Rice Balls in Chicken Gravy

  1. Heat oil in a curry pot (this will be the pot where you will add the steamed kaka orotti) 
  2. Add the chopped onions and sauté until golden. TIP: I love to season salt as I go. Adding salt at this stage will help cook the onion faster. 
  3. Add ginger garlic paste and saute for couple more minutes or until the raw smell fades.
  4. Now, add the chopped tomatoes and cook for few minutes until everything comes together. You can cover and cook at this point if it is too dry. 
  5. Add all the spice powders - chilli powder, coriander powder and turmeric powder and sauté for few seconds.
  6. Now, add  the washed and drained chicken pieces and stir well. 
  7. Add about a cup of water and cover and cook until chicken is cooked completely. (open and stir occasionally to prevent burning)
  8. Add the prepared coconut paste, garam masala and bring to boil while stirring well. 
  9. Now, add some curry leaves and gently fold in the steamed rice balls (kakka orotti)
  10. Fold until all the coins are coated with the gravy
  11. Cover and cook on very low flame for 5 minutes. 
  12. Switch off and serve hot for lunch or dinner
Kakka Orotti | Steamed Mini Rice Balls in Chicken Gravy

When I make this for dinner, I do all the task in one day. You can divide the tasks between two days too.
  1. Prepare the rice dough
  2. Prep the chicken and let it drain
  3. Make the balls and steam, while steaming - make the coconut paste
  4. Prepare the curry 
  5. Fold in the steamed Kakka orotti close to the serving time
To make the coconut paste, mom usually adds her own garam masala powder or just the fennel seeds. I have however used whole spices as I too little left for the curry and had no mood to make a batch at that point. :-P  Frying raw rice for the coconut mixture adds a creamy texture that I highly recommend and so not be skipped!

Kakka Orotti | Steamed Mini Rice Balls in Chicken Gravy

It does not require any other accompaniments and can be had for breakfast or lunch and sometimes like me for dinner too. :-P

If you plan to make this, do share your results by tagging me on Instagram, I would love to know your feedback.

For the par-boiled rice version (ponni ari) go here