Ariyunda recipe is Kerala's favourite sweet snack rice balls made with roasted and finely ground parboiled rice mixed with grated coconut and jaggery with a hint of cumin.
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. For the uninitiated, they are parboiled rice. 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 recipe is made with a trio of rice, coconut and jaggery.
Ingredients for Ariyunda
- parboiled rice: I have tried only with kuruva and ponni but traditionally they also use matta rice which is never part of my grocery.
- 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.
- jaggery: I have tried 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.
- cumin seeds: I love avilose podi and so prefer cumin seeds flavour but you may use cardamom powder instead.
- It is common to add roasted and ground nuts of choice but I like to serve along with a handful of nuts.
For the first batch of ariyunda (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 them ladoos) are cheap, easy, tasty and a perfect snack for chai time.
These are the second batch of ari undas that I made while my mom was staying with us in Abu Dhabi.
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.
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 them!
How to make ariyunda?
The recipe is simple and easy but needs your attention in three stages.
- dry roasting the washed and towel-dried grains
- processing the roasted grains to a fine powder
- pulsing the coconut with jaggery
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 it 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 soft ladoo 😀
Tips to roast the rice
Roasting and grinding the rice makes or breaks this ariyunda recipe. If the grains are not roasted through and through, then even after processing them 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.
Ariyunda | Sweet Rice and Coconut Balls
- ½ cup parboiled rice ponni
- 1 pinch cumin seeds
- ¼ teaspoon cardamom powder optional
- ½ cup grated coconut
- ⅓ cup powdered jaggery heaped
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.
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.
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.
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 process them into a paste. If you grind them longer, then the balls turn out darker and softer. Transfer them to the rice flour bowl and mix them using your hand.
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.
Serve and store
- You may serve it immediately but it is best served the next day. Serve with chai or coffee.
- Store any leftovers in an airtight container or refrigerate them during warm days. Double the recipe for a bigger batch.