Modaks are the Lord Ganesh’s, or Ganpati’s, favourite sweet and once a year when Ganesh Chaturthi arrives in the Hindu calendar month of Bhaadrapada, starting on the Shukla Chaturthi [fourth day of the waxing moon period] which usually falls between 20 August and 15 September, Modaks are made as a prasad [offering] to the Lord Ganesh, the remover of obstacles.
The offering must have 21 Modaks though some people make 11 and the lazy lot gets by with 5.
There are two types of Modaks. The fried Modak is a specialty of the Vidarbha region, comprising parts of central and eastern Maharashtra. The steamed or ‘Ukadiche’ Modaks are usually made by the communities of the Konkan region [coastal Maharashtra] and Karnataka.
The ones available in stores during the festival period are made of mawa [reduced whole milk] and nuts and please refrain from consuming these.
For the real thing, this is the time to drop in on your Maharashtrian friends.
Fried Modak Recipe
For the dough
1 large katori [about 150 g] atta [wheat flour], sieved; ¾ large katori rava [semolina], sieved; ¾ large katori maida [all purpose pastry flour]; a generous pinch of salt; 1 tablespoon heated ghee [clarified butter]; milk
For the filling
1 coconut, finely grated; sugar, in equal quantity to the grated coconut or as per taste; ¼ teaspoon ghee; 1 teaspoon rava; 1 tablespoon chironji [charoli]; ½ teaspoon cardamom powder
Knead the dough using milk and let it stand for 1 hour. Then knead once again until it has a soft consistency.
In a kadhai [wok], heat the ghee and sauté the rava and keep aside. Put in the grated coconut and sugar and roast on a low flame till the mixture browns a bit. Add the rava, charoli and the cardamom powder and sauté till dry. Take off the fire and cool.
Before rolling out the dough, knead it once again. Stuff with the filling and shape into a Modak [all corners turned upwards and pinched close]. Fry the Modaks in ghee until they turn a light brown.
Steamed or ‘Ukadiche’ Modak Recipe
For the dough
150 g basmati rice flour specially made for Modaks, best bought from a store that keeps provisions from Konkan/Karnataka; water; a big pinch of salt; 1 teaspoon oil/ghee
For the filling
1 coconut, grated; sugar/grated jaggery in equal quantity to the coconut; 1 teaspoon cardamom powder; a pinch of saffron
Bring about 150 ml of water to boil, add the salt and the oil/ghee and take off the heat. Quickly add the basmati rice flour and beat it up with a spoon to make the dough. Cover and keep for about 15 minutes.
In a kadhai, put the coconut, sugar/jaggery, cardamom powder and the saffron and roast until the colour changes and it dries out. Cool.
Knead the dough once before rolling out. Stuff with the filling and shape into a Modak [all corners turned upwards and pinched close]. Put in a steamer for 5 minutes.
Eat hot, with a generous helping of ghee poured over it.