Kokis is one of the primary delicacies that is made to celebrate Sinhalese’ and Tamils’ New Year which is celebrated during mid-April, annually. I learned this recipe from my mother-in-law and for her it had been come down from few generations before. In fact, the particular metal mold that I am using is almost 90 years old.
Like most of the other Sri Lankan New Year treats, Kokis requires certain level of practice to master the correct way to make the authentic product. Today, I will give you the tips to minimize or to eliminate all possible mistakes that you might commit during the learning process so that you can straight away become a master by skipping the trial-&-error period. So, please concentrate more on the few special tips that I will state during my presentation.
Equipment and ingredients for approximately 50 kokis(s)
- Kokis mold (Kokis Achchuwa) – It is a butterfly-shaped or as such shaped metal mold that is specifically built to make Kokis
- Flour sifter
- A pot for deep frying
- Wider and shorter bowl for the batter – this requirement is based on the length of the metal rod that determines how deep your mold can reach. It is preferred that your mold head should be able to easily touch the bottom surface of the bowl without any obstacle. In other words, your stem of the mold has to be longer than the depth of the bowl.
- Longer wooden skewer – Traditionally, Sri Lankans use a dried midrib of a coconut leaflet (Pol Iratta)
- An electric grinder – (traditionally, the rice was ground using a pestle and mortar)
- 800g of long-grain raw rice – Sudu Kakul Haal
- 3- 4 cups of thicker coconut milk – (Miti kiri)
- Water as needed
- Few pinched of turmeric powder or a sufficient to get the intended yellow color shade
- 375-750ml of Coconut oil or an amount that is sufficient to deep fry in
- Remember, it is important to use coconut oil if you intend to have the really authentic taste of this delicacy.
First, wash and rinse out the dust-like rice particles until the contained water becomes almost clear. Then, soak the rice in water and let it be aside for almost 3 hours. After, drain the water out and spread the wet rice on an absorbent paper in order to efficiently lose water and become dryer. For your information, traditionally, this was done on a mat or a wider box made with woven natural straws (Pan Malla or Pan pettiya). Now, grind the slightly wet rice and sift to obtain a finely-ground rice flour.
To begin, pour the ground-rice in to a larger mixing bowl and bring in a cup of prepared coconut milk. Now, gently, hand mix the two ingredients until a thicker batter is formed. Now, gradually, bring in more coconut milk while continuously hand mixing the batter until the required consistency is reached.
Remember, it is important to mix the batter with squeezing-between-fingers motion to mix the contents efficiently.
Now, add salt and turmeric powder to the mixture. You can adjust salt for your taste. For this much of rice flour, I recommend to start off with ¾ tsp of salt and adjust to your taste after tasting the first Kokis you would make. As for the amount of turmeric, add 2- 3 pinches first and same as with salt, adjust after the first born. One thing to keep on your mind is that, it is important to not use too much of turmeric powder as it might give a bitter taste to the delight. Well, I know “too much” is a vague description. How to know this is; for now, consider the expected maximum color as what you see in my pictures. Remember, the batter is always lighter and color is improved after frying. So always wait until the first few kokis are made to adjust the turmeric. Surely, with practice, you will master handling these ingredients.
Now, once you feel like you have reached the correct consistency, warm the oil under low-to-medium heat and merge the Kokis mold in the oil for it to get warm. Meantime, if only the initially used bowl is deeper than the length of the vertical stem of the mold, transfer the better to a shorter and a wider pot or a bowl. For information, traditionally, the batter was mixed in a wider and shorter-in-height clay pot called “Matti Athilyiya”. Now, after about 1- 2 minutes or when you see polar-lights-as heat waves are appeared and dominated across the oil; carefully, take the mold out of the oil and submerge it in the batter up to 3/4th of the mold.Remember, it is important to introduce the mold parallel to the batter’s-surface and maintain the same accuracy throughout. Then, quickly, bring the batter-glazed mold to the warm oil and start deep frying.
Now, after about 5-8 seconds, gently push down the kokis with a skewer or the “Iratta” in order for it to separate from the mold. Once it’s dislodged, flip the other side and continue deep frying for about 20 seconds or until it reaches the expected fried-consistency. Now, continue doing the same with the rest of the batter. Remember, once you become comfortable with the process you can increase the pace of making kokis and fry 5-6 kokis at the same time. In fact, even at the beginning you can start with 2- 3 kokis if your frying pot is sufficient to occupy as such number at once.
So, now, as suggested earlier, when you make your first kokis-es, taste and eye-ball for the taste of salt and color. Then, do the necessary adjustments according to your wish.
It is important to find the optimum heat level required to cook the kokis. If the heat is high, soon as you make the mold contacted with the batter, it won’t stay glazed to the mold. Instead, it will drop in to the batter or will look deformed-semi-cooked kokis either partially attached to the mold or lying in the batter. If such will occur, lower the heat and repeat the process again.
Secondly, it is also important to have the mold warmed up to the sufficient level as well, else the batter won’t be glazed completely and efficiently.
When frying, if the heat is very high, they will be over-frying within 5 – 10 seconds. Make sure that your target is to reach the optimum fried-consistency in 15- 20 seconds and not faster or slower than that range.
Then, always remember to re-check the consistency of the batter in frequent intervals. If you will find the batter is thickened, adjust it with little bit of coconut milk or water as necessary.
If you will find that your Kokis are thicker and less crispy, it can be either your heat level is high or more likely, it can be due to a thicker batter. So adjust either or both as necessary.
If you will accidently merge the mold completely in batter; 1st off the cooker and pause frying. Then clean off the gazed batter by scraping and washing and get back to your work. This is a common accident.
Also, if you are planning to make other kinds of deep-fried New Year treats like Mung Kawum, Athi Raha and Konda Kawum, make sure you always make kokis first as you can reuse the same oil to make the others. The concept is, you can use the oil you used to fry kokis to make most of the other sweets but not the other way around.
Now enjoy your work with your family.