Goan sannas and chunachi/godachem sannas- Steamed rice cakes( plain and sweet version)



Sannas are spongy steamed rice cakes. It is made from a batter consisting of ground Goan red rice and freshly grated coconut. The rice and coconut are ground using toddy (fermented coconut water). The batter is then fermented and steamed. Sannas are a popular accompaniment for sorpotel, xacuti and other meat gravies. They are slightly sweet and hence pair perfectly with these fiery and tangy gravies.


There are two types of sannas, 1- plain sannas, the batter of which consists of rice and coconut, fermented with toddy & 2- Godachem/Chunachi (sweet) sannas, the batter which consists of rice, fermented with toddy and is filled with coconut+jaggery mix. Today I will be sharing both the versions. I made these along with my mum in law, during my stay in Goa earlier this year, using the traditional sanna steamer and those traditional moulds (vatis) to steam the sannas. You can use regular idli molds, or simply a 7 inch or 9 inch cake tin to steam the sannas.


Traditionally red boiled rice is consumed along with curries in Goa, and even other Southern states like Kerala. Although this form of rice takes longer to cook, it is so much healthier and nutrient rich than the regular rice.


You can substitute the Goan red rice with with idli rice/ parboiled rice, easily available in most Indian stores. Now toddy is another ingredient which is required for batter fermentation. I used to make these with yeast until I came across Alves’s super easy recipe for homemade toddy. I knew I had to give that a shot.The resulting sannas with homemade toddy were as close to the real deal. So I highly recommend to use toddy instead of yeast.


Ingredients: Measuring cup used, 1 cup = 250 ml

2 cups Goan red rice/ idli rice/ parboiled rice

3/4 to 1 cup freshly grated coconut

Little less than 1 & 1/2 cup toddy (Click here for the quick and easy recipe for homemade toddy)

1/4 + 1/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon + 1/2 teaspoon salt

Filling for chunachi (sweet) sannas-

3/4 cup freshly grated coconut

1/2 cup grated palm jaggery/ regular sugarcane jaggery

To be used if toody is unavailable:

[1 teasoon active dry yeast

1 teaspoon sugar]


  1. Wash and soak the rice in sufficient water for about 4-5 hours. Drain , set aside.
  2. In your mixer/grinder , add the drained rice, grind using little toddy ( I used about 1 & 1/4 cup) to a smooth batter. Add the toddy in increments so that the batter grinds well. Remove about 1 & 3/4 cup batter in another large bowl. Transfer the remaining batter to another mixing bowl ( you will have about 1 & 1/2 cup batter )
  3. Grind the freshly grated coconut with about 2-3 tablespoons of toddy. Set aside.
  4. Mix coconut and grated jaggery in a bowl. Cook this mixture on low heat until all the moisture has evaporated and the mixture has dried up.
  5. For plain sannas-To one bowl with the rice batter, add coconut batter [prepared in step 3, 1/4 cup sugar and about 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add more toddy if required to adjust the batter consistency.


       6. For sweet sannas-  To the other bowl of rice batter, add 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt.


7. Cover, leave it an a warm place to ferment and double in size for about 4-6 hours.


8. Grease the sanna moulds with little oil.

For plain sannas, fill the moulds to about 3/4 th with the sanna batter.

For sweet sannas, fill the moulds to 1/4th with sanna batter, then add a generous amount of the coconut-jaggery mix, fill with more sanna batter up to 3/4th of the mould.




Steam for about 20-25 minutes.

Transfer to a serving platter, serve plain sannas with gravy of your choice, or eat it as is. It’s delicious on its own. The sweet jaggery sannas are great with your morning cuppa or evening chai.

If toddy is unavailable: ( Use water to grind the batters)

  1. Dissolve 1 teaspoon sugar in 2 tablespoons of warm water ( not hot, or else it will kill the yeast) , add active dry yeast, leave uncovered in a dark place for about 10 minutes.
  2. Whilst the yeast is getting activated, prepare the rice and coconut batter.
  3. Check on the yeast mixture. If it’s bubbly and foamy , it means it’s activated and ready to use. If not, discard, and start again.
  4. Add the activated yeast mixture to the rice batter. Then divide the batter  in two bowls and proceed as mentioned from step 5 above.


If you want to make only plain sannas, follow these proportions:

2 cups Goan red rice/ idli rice/ basmati rice

Approx 2 cups freshly grated coconut

1&1/2 cups toddy, adjust as per consistency

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

If you want to make only the sweet sannas with jaggery, follow these proportions:

2 cups Goan red rice/ idli rice/ basmati rice

1& 1/4 cups toddy,  adjust as per consistency

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

Filling for chunachi (sweet) sannas-

1 & 1/2 cups freshly grated coconut

1 cup grated palm jaggery/ regular sugarcane jaggery



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  1. Loretta says:

    Oh my word Freda, you are killing me with all your Goan dishes. I love sannas and the jaggery filled ones are to die for. I recall so vividly, first tasting them on one of my first trips to Goa. My Grandmother loved making them for us. I think the toddy makes all the difference doesn’t it? My mum and sister and family from England are currently in Goa at the moment, I’m envious that they are enjoying all these traditional dishes from Goa. I was to join them, but the mere thought of flying all those hours from the US put me right off 🙂

    • Freda Dias says:

      Thanks a lot Loretta!! Yes Toddy definitely makes all the difference, although plain yeast works well too. Now that I can make toddy at home, it’s a breeze to make these sannas 🙂 All you need is just coconut water and yeast, how easy 🙂 I hope you do plan a trip to Goa soon 🙂

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