Modak is a popular sweet prepared in Western and Southern states of India especially during the Ganesh Chaturthi festival. It is called by various names such as Modak in Marathi and Konkani, Modhaka in Kannada, Kozhakkattai in Tamil and Kudumu in Telugu. It is a sweet dumpling stuffed with a sweet filling made of coconut and jaggery and the outer casing is made of rice flour.
There are tow variations of making the Modak. One is by steaming the sweet dumplings and the other are the fried Modaks. The steamed version is eaten hot with ghee whereas the fried modaks can be eaten just like that like a snack.
Modaks have a very special importance in the worship of the Hindu elephant god, Ganesh as it is believed to be his favorite food and hence is also known as modakapriya. Most of the times the Ganesh worship ceremony or pooja concludes with offering of modaks to the Lord or deity. The steam modaks are very tender and delicate hence does need practice to make this delicate dessert.
The steamed Modak looks a bit similar to the Japanese Mochi (especially the Japanese daifuku) savory dish which uses glutinous sweet rice flour as the covering and filled with red bean paste along with other spices whereas the modak is a traditional sweet filling made of jaggery and coconut covered with cooked regular rice flour as the outer casing.
In southern India, modak is also giving a slight variation by making savory ones using lentils and spices. There are few other variations also where they use wheat flour as the outer casing for the fried version kudumu /modak instead of the rice flour. As per the ritual it is important to prepare the steamed version but most of the kids love the fried version of modaks.
Preparing the modak needs good amount of patience and prepare the casing to the right consistency. Preparing the modaks is in three steps. Firstly for preparing the rice dough for the outer casing, boil a cup of water and when it reaches a steady boil add oil and little salt.
Now immediately to it add the rice flour and stir quickly so that lumps are not formed and are made to a thick paste. Cover with a lit and allow it to cool. Later remove the lid and stir well cover again and keep aside. Remember that the dough should be neither too sticky nor too dry. Again remove all the mixture onto a plate and knead thoroughly to make soft dough.
Keep covered aside. Next to prepare for the filling, in a kadhai add little ghee and heat it. Fry the chopped cashew nuts till it turns golden brown and remove the nuts from the kadhai and keep aside. Add the grated coconut and jaggery and mix. Mix well till the jaggery melts and the coconut becomes soft. Cook stirring on medium heat. Then add little milk and mix the mixture well and remove off the heat once it is totally dry.
Allow the mixture to cool and add the dry fruits, cardamom powder and mix well. The filling is ready. Finally making of the modak is best to make them when the dough is slightly warm. Grease your palms with little ghee or oil. Take small portion of the warm dough and make a ball out of it. Flatten the dough to form a cup shape and place the stuffing in the middle into the cup.
Now join the open edges together on top and join to form a peak. The modak is complete. It should look similar to a whole garlic pod. Place the modak on a pre greased plate and make the rest of the modaks in the same manner. Steam these modaks for 10 minutes, take off cool and keep in air tight containers. Serve with ghee. The modak with the sweetness of the jaggery and coconut makes them very delicious and tasty.
Do prepare this sweet and enjoy the flavors of Lord Ganesh most adorable sweet.
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