The most delectable part of this delightful festival that honours the remover of obstacles, Lord Ganesha, is undoubtedly, the Modak.
A sweet dumpling, prepared specially for Ganesh Chaturthi, it is incredible how seemingly ordinary ingredients -- jaggery, coconut, wheat flour and ghee -- come together to make an extraordinary, and much-loved sweetmeat.
No wonder it's the god's favourite.
If your mouth's watering already, here are some recipes that'll satiate your hankering for some excellent modak, from the usual steamed variety to chocolate and even cottage cheese stuffed-ones.
Juicy bonus: A modak is at its succulent best when served hot, and with a lot of ghee (you'll have to hit the gym later).
Here's how: Cut piping hot modak into four pieces. Spoon 4-5 drops of melted ghee on the sweet insides, take a bite, then swoon.
(measuring cup used, 1 cup = 250 ml)
For the outer modak covering:
1 cup rice flour
1.5 cups water
¼ tsp oil or ghee
Pinch of salt
For the inner sweet filling:
1 cup fresh grated coconut
¾ cup powdered or grated jaggery, for a more sweeter taste, you can add up to 1 cup of powdered jaggery
3 to 4 cardamoms, powdered in a mortar-pestle, about ¼ tsp cardamom powder
Pinch of nutmeg powder or grated numeg
½ tsp poppy seeds
½ tsp ghee or oil
½ tsp rice flour (optional)
Making the sweet filling for ukadiche modak:
Heat ghee in a pan. add poppy seeds, cardamom powder and nutmeg powder. Saute for a minute. Add grated fresh coconut and powdered/grated jaggery. Mix well and cook this coconut-jaggery mixture on a low flame. The jaggery will melt first. Stir occasionally and cook this mixture till the moisture from the jaggery begins to dry. Switch off the flame. Don't overcook as the jaggery tends to harden. Keep this coconut-jaggery filling aside. On cooling, the mixture will thicken more. You can also add a bit of rice flour to this mixture. This is an optional step. the rice flour helps to absorb moisture, if any from the filling.
Making the outer cover of the ukadiche modak:
In a pan or dekchi add the water, oil and salt, and let this mixture come to a boil. Reduce the flame, and add the rice flour gradually. Quickly stir and mix the flour with the water. Stir till all the rice flour is mixed with the water. Remove the pan from the stove top and cover with a lid for 4 to 5 minutes. Take all the dough in a plate/thali or in a bowl. Gather the dough together and begin to knead it.
The dough will be hot when, you begin to knead. So apply some water on your palms and knead the dough. If you feel the dough looks dense or hard or dry, then just add a few teaspoons of warm water and continue to knead.
Make small balls from the dough, and roll them till they achieve a smooth texture. You can also apply some water on your palms, while rolling the balls. Keep the balls covered with a kitchen towel.
Assembling, and shaping modaks:
Before you start shaping the modaks, keep water for steaming in a pan. Grease the steamer lightly with oil or ghee. Take a ball and flatten it with your fingers to a round disc or a shallow bowl shape. You can apply ghee/oil in your palms, while flattening.
Place the modak filling in the centre. Press the edges first and then bring together all the edges and join them. Remove the extra portion of the dough from the top, if any. Shape and taper the top of the modak with your fingers.
Keep the modaks in a steamer pan. Cover the pan with a lid and steam for 10 to 15 minutes on a low flame. Once the ukadiche modaks are steamed, drizzle a few teaspoons of ghee on the modaks.
(measuring cup used, 1 cup = 250 ml)
For the outer covering or shell:
2 cups whole wheat flour
½ tsp salt
2 tsp warm oil
Water to knead the dough
For the inner filling:
1.5 cups grated or powdered jaggery
1.5 cups fresh grated fresh coconut or unsweetened desiccated coconut
1 or 2 tbsp roasted sesame seeds
1 or 1.5 tsp cardamom powder or crushed cardamom
A pinch or two of grated nutmeg (optional)
½ or ¾ cup water
Preparing the covering
With the ingredients mentioned for the outer covering, make a smooth dough. Cover and keep the dough aside for 20-30 minutes.
Preparing the filling:
Mix all the filling ingredients. Cook and stir on a low or medium flame till the mixture is dry and cooked. Keep aside to cool.
Preparing & shaping the modaks:
Take a small ball from the dough. Roll thinly in to a circle of about 3-4 inches diameter. Gently take this circle on your palm. Add the filling in the centre. Pinch the edges one by one. Bring together all the pinched folds in the centre. Shallow or deep fry the modaks in medium hot oil till golden browned. Drain on kitchen tissues.
Instead of whole wheat flour, you can also use all purpose flour or maida or half of both. Make sure you seal the modak well. any small opening will lead to the filling being drained in the oil while frying.
Milk - 1/3 cup
Condensed milk - 1/3 cup
Semi sweet or dark chocolate chips - 3/4 cups or 4 oz
Cracker crumbs or digestive biscuits crumbs - 1 ½ cups
Pistachios - ¼ cup, chopped
Take milk, chocolate chips and condensed milk in a pan. turn the heat on medium-low.
Chocolate will start to melt down. Keep stirring continuously otherwise chocolate may burn quickly. It will melt completely and becomes smooth and shiny. Add cracker crumbs. Start mixing it and halfway through add chopped pistachios. Mix well and it will come together like a sticky dough. Keep it aside till it gets cool to touch. Grease your finger and modak moulds using oil or ghee. Start shaping the modak using mould.
Continue shaping till you finish all the chocolate mixture.
Dates – 20
Almonds, pistachios, cashew nuts – 1/2 cup together
Ghee, to roast and grease – As needed
Roast the nuts until fragrant in ghee. Take care not to change its colour, so roast in medium flame. Set aside. Deseed the dates. Once cooled down, grind to coarsely. Do not powder too much, there should be chunks of nuts. Transfer to a mixing bowl and grind dates to a paste. Mix both the ground dates and nuts and grease the mould with ghee. Grease your hands with ghee and fill the mould with the mixture. De mould carefully and arrange in paper liners. Grease both the mould and hands with ghee every time to finish all.
You can add roasted desiccated coconut too along with nuts. You can add nuts of your choice, but add in small portions, some nuts may give you bitter taste. Also you can add few raisins along with dates.
You can add a tsp of roasted poppy seeds (khus khus).
Use enough ghee to make non sticky modaks.
You can reserve some powdered nuts and sprinkle over the modaks. This will look nice as well as make the modak non sticky.
You can use pistachio powder too alone to sprinkle over the modak for pleasant colour.
1/2 cup paneer (cottage cheese) ,freshly made
1/2 cup milk powder
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup + 3 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
a few strands of saffron (for colour)
2-3 tbsp ghee
Crumble paneer nicely with out any lumps. If the paneer is very grainy you can pulse it in blender for a couple of seconds.
In a kadai add crumbled paneer, milk powder, milk, saffron strands, and mix properly. Add ghee to it and keep stirring until it forms a thick mixture. If the mixture sticks to the pan add another tbsp of ghee to it.
Keep stirring until the mixture is completely dry and forms like thick chapati dough. Switch off the flame and let it cool down a bit.
Meanwhile grind sugar with cardamom powder to a fine powder.
Add sugar (reserve 2 tbsp and add rest) to the slightly warm paneer mixture and mix well. Knead it so that the sugar will get distributed through out the sweet. Check the sweetness if you feel that it is less you can add the remaining sugar otherwise it is fine. If you add sugar while the mixture is hot it will melt and form like a fudge,so it is necessary to add sugar only when it is cooled down.
Make a big gooseberry sized ball and press it using the modak mold to give a nice shape to it. If you do not have it try making modak with hands or in the form of pedas.
If you do not get the perfect shape now initially do not bother.Keep them in refrigerator for sometime,say 1 hr and by then it will firm up.Then press them again in the same mold.As my paneer was grainy you cannot see the shape clearly,if the mixture is very smooth you can make out the modak pattern on it nicely.
Chill them and serve it.Take them out 10 mins before you want to serve.You can keep them for 3-4 days when refrigerated.
To make paneer:
Heat 1/2 litre of milk until it comes to a boil. Add juice of 1/2 lemon and give a stir: it will start curdling, add bit more lemon juice if needed. Once it is curdled completely strain into a muslin cloth and give a fresh water bath to remove any lemon smell in it. Squeeze the extra water and hang it for some time or place a heavy stuff on it. Keep it aside for 20 mins.
It is important that you should not add sugar while the mixture is hot as it will melt and form like a fudge,so it is necessary to add sugar only when the paneer mixture is cooled down.
Freshly made paneer tastes better in this, but you can use store bought one as well.
You can shape them with your hands like pedas/modak, you don't need a mould.
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