A beautiful and delicious meal to ring in the New Year, and is hopefully a sign that 2017 will be a beautiful year. The term Kola Urundai in Tamil means round balls, as if balls are any other shape! Brinji rice is rice cooked in milk and spices. This exotic and delicately flavoured dish is unique in that the meatballs are deep fried and then cooked along with the rice, not served as an accompaniment or as garnish. I have come across this recipe only in my family. I think it belongs to my great-grandmother who had settled in Thanjavur in the 1800s – perhaps she got it there. It is quite easy to make even though it is one dish composed of two preparations.
I was always fascinated by this recipe, which my mother had given me but never made herself. I have standardised all the vague proportions of spices that were mentioned. I have also made slight changes to the method of preparation, to make it suitable for the modern kitchen. Mixing cooked and raw mince together to make the meatballs is a method followed in my family to prevent the meatballs from breaking whether they are boiled or fried.
I serve this dish with Sweet and Sour Brinjal Masala, Thayir Pachadi, and Hot and Sweet Tomato Chutney. You can serve it with any other vegetarian accompaniment of your choice.
This is a truly rich preparation with the mince meat and milk providing very good quality protein, and the rice and the fat providing a large quantity of energy. But it is also easy on the stomach because the amount of spices used is very small.
For the Kola Urundai
- ½ kg Mince (Beef, Chicken or Mutton)
- 1 large Onion, diced
- 1 tsp Pepper Corns
- 2 tsp Salt
- 1 T Kuskus (poppy seeds)
- ½ C Coconut scrapings
- 4 cm piece Ginger, grated
- ¼ tsp Cinnamon Powder
- ¼ tsp Clove Powder
- 2 tsp Chilli Powder
- 2 tsp Coriander Powder
- Sufficient Vegetable Oil for deep frying
- 1 Hen’s egg, optional (refer notes)
For the Brinji Rice
- 3 C Basmati Rice
- 2 large Onions, sliced
- 20 small Garlic Cloves
- 3 Green Chillies, stalks removed
- 4 to 6 pieces of Cinnamon
- 10 Cloves
- 4 Bay Leaves, dried
- ½ Lime, juice extracted
- 1 C stock from mince
- 2 C Milk
- 3 C Hot water
- ¼ C Ghee (clarified butter)
- ¼ C flavourless Vegetable Oil
- 2 tsp Salt, or to taste
For the Kola Urundai
- Pressure cook half the mince with the diced onion, pepper corns and salt for 20 minutes. Cool, drain and reserve stock.
- Grind the kuskus and coconut together.
- Grind the cooked and raw mince together with the ground coconut and kuskus, grated ginger, chilli, coriander, cinnamon and clove powders.
- Shape into small balls 3 cm in diameter.
- Deep fry the meatballs on low heat, drain, and set aside.
For the Brinji Rice
- Wash and drain the basmati rice in a colander.
- Heat the ghee and oil in a large heavy-based pan.
- Add the garlic cloves, cinnamon, cloves and bay leaves.
- When the cloves begin to swell, add the sliced onion and green chillies, and fry till tender.
- Add the washed rice and mix till all the grains are coated with the masala.
- Add the hot water, milk, stock and salt and bring to boil.
- Lower heat, cover and cook.
- When the rice is half cooked, add the meatballs and lime juice.
- Stir gently and cover and cook till the rice is dry.
- To grind kuskus in a mixie or blender, soak the kuskus in half a cup of boiling water for half an hour. Drain the water, place the kuskus in a small mixie jar and pulse at speeds 1 and 2 for 10 seconds each. Add the coconut scrapings and pulse again at speeds 1, 2, and 3 for 10 seconds each. If it is too dry, add 2 teaspoons of the water in which the kuskus was soaked.
- If the meatballs disintegrate during deep frying, add an egg and knead the mince well and then shape meatballs again.
- If you do not care for the taste of the dry spices in the meatballs, you can always use a green masala i.e., ginger-garlic, green chilli, and coriander leaves ground together, instead.
- After adding the meatballs to the rice, there should be a minimum of stirring to prevent the balls from breaking.
- Do not add the lime juice along with the milk. The milk will curdle and the quality of rice will be ruined.