Ariyunda | Sweet Rice and Coconut Balls

Ariyunda! Kerala's favourite sweet snack balls are made with roasted and finely ground parboiled rice with a hint of cumin mixed with coconut and jaggery.
Ariyunda | Sweet Rice and Coconut Balls

This Ari unda was born out of the need to finish off the Kuruva or Ponni rice which I use only to make Kakka Orotti and Neypathal. I came across this Ari Unda recipe on YouTube on a random day and the recipe was calling me! You know how I love ratio recipes — The recipe called for an equal volume of rice and coconut and a little less jaggery and the best part was you don't even have to go through the hassle of melting the jaggery with water and all. I love such simple recipes! I made my first batch late in the night with Kuruva rice and was so impressed with the outcome. The next day my mom arrived in UAE and was with my brother in Sharjah. We travelled with these ari undas and I was super glad they all loved it.  

There are a few different ways to make Ari Unda but the ingredients remain largely the same. You may add any nuts or seeds to this mixture to make it even more nutritious. But the traditional basic Ariyunda is made with the trio of rice, coconut and jaggery. 

Ingredients for Ariyunda

  1. parboiled rice: I have tried only with kuruva and ponni but traditionally they also use matta rice which is never part of my grocery.  
  2. grated coconut: freshly grated coconut or frozen can be used. If using frozen, make sure to thaw completely and bring to room temperature before using. I have not yet tried desiccated coconut. 
  3. jaggery: I have used both block and powder versions of jaggery. If using blocks, break them down and then measure to use. You may use coconut sugar if you don't find jaggery. 
  4. cumin seeds: I love avilose podi and so prefer cumin seeds flavour but you may use cardamom. 
  5. It is common to add roasted and ground nuts of choice but I like to serve along with a handful of nuts :-P
Ariyunda | Sweet Rice and Coconut Balls

For the first batch (pictured above), I did go with 1 cup of each item but for subsequent batches, I reduced the quantity because we tend to finish the balls in one sitting. These Ari Undas (dare I call it ladoos) are cheap, easy, tasty and a perfect snack for chai time. 

Ariyunda | Sweet Rice and Coconut Balls
These are my second batch of ari undas that I made while my mom was staying with us in Abu Dhabi. 

Ariyunda | Sweet Rice and Coconut Balls
The above picture was my third batch which I made for the blog hoping to get some decent pictures. But I over-processed the coconut and jaggery that the balls turned out darker and too soft, almost like biting into a piece of cake. At first, I thought the jaggery defines the colour of the ariyunda, but I remembered all the batches of Ari Unda were prepared with the same colour jaggery. 

Ariyunda | Sweet Rice and Coconut Balls

Finally, the fourth batch I made for our chai time but I wasn't prepared for photography! I threw in some nuts and rose petals to get some colour and random clicks before my man reached out to grab! 

How to make ari unda

The recipe is simple and easy but needs your attention in three stages. 
  1. dry roasting the washed and towel-dried grains
  2. processing the roasted grains to a fine powder 
  3. pulsing the coconut with jaggery
dry roasting par-boiled rice grains

roasted grains

ground rice

shaping ari undas

Dry roasting the rice will take time and you have to keep stirring it so that they roast evenly. It can take anywhere between 15 to 20 minutes. Do not be tempted to leave unattended or increase the flame to high. Make sure to grind the roasted rice to a fine powder so that there is no bite to it. You may sieve the ground rice to ensure there are no granules. Pulse the coconut and jaggery just a few times. Do not grind it to paste. It happened to me on my third batch where the balls turned out to be dark and soft. Nothing wrong with that but you won't have the "feel" of eating ari unda. It will be more like a motichoor ladoo :-D 

Roasting and grinding the rice makes or breaks this recipe. If the grains are not roasted through and through, then even after processing to fine powder, you will get a raw bite while eating. So make sure you take the longest time to slowly roast the grains while stirring very often. You will hear some popping sounds and then you can try tasting a few grains to confirm before you switch off and move to the next step. 

Ari Unda | Ariyunda Recipe | Sweet Rice and Coconut Balls


  • 1/2 cup parboiled rice grains (ponni)
  • a pinch of cumin seeds or cardamom powder
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated coconut
  • 1/3 cup heaped jaggery powder 


  1. Wash and towel-dry the rice: Wash the rice and drain it completely. Spread the washed rice on a clean kitchen cloth to remove excess water. 
  2. Dry roast the grains: Heat a thick-bottomed skillet or kadai and dry roast the rice on a low to medium flame while stirring them often. Roast until the grains turn to golden brown and you can hear the popping sound. This will take at least 10 to 15 minutes. Bite a few grains to confirm if they are roasted through. Switch off and stir in the cumin seeds. Transfer to a plate to let them cool completely. 
  3. Process the roasted grains: Add the cooled roasted grains to the mixie grinder or food processor and grind to a fine powder. You may sieve the ground rice to make sure there are no bits. Transfer the powdered rice into a bowl. 
  4. Process the jaggery and coconut: Next, add the powdered jaggery and the grated coconut to the mixer jar and just pulse a couple of times. Don’t grind them into a paste. If you grind them longer, then the balls turn out darker and softer. Transfer them into the ground rice bowl and mix them together using your hand.
  5. Shape the balls: Grab some of the mixture ( approx two tablespoons) and shape them into lime-sized balls by squeezing the mixture between your palm until it firms up. 
  6. You may serve it immediately but it is best served the next day. Serve with chai or coffee. 
NOTES: Store any leftovers in an airtight container or refrigerate them during warm days. Double the recipe for a larger batch.

Ariyunda | Sweet Rice and Coconut Balls

If you’ve tried this Ariyunda recipe or any other recipe on But First Chai, then don’t forget to leave me a comment below! I would love to hear about your experience making it. And if you snapped some shots of it, share them with me on Instagram so I can repost them on my Stories!

This is my first recipe post for the month of September and tomorrow is my man's birthday followed by our engagement anniversary. I think I should also mention that we are now a family of four! We adopted two rescued cats who are brothers of the same mother. They arrived on July 10th and has finally accepted us! Join me on Instagram or Facebook where I share their cuteness on Stories. Now, let me go figure out what to bake tomorrow... :-)