It is that time of the year again when Ganesha or Ganapati bappa comes to our homes, our hearts and even our streets. And with him he bring lots of festivities and of course good food. The entire region gets swathed in lights and flowers, and all of life’s miseries are forgotten for a while.
We did not have Ganapati at our home and I felt quite bad about that. Then when we shifted to a new apartment when I was 12. That year I realised, my friend Ketki, had Ganpati bappa at her place and I went to her place for the evening of actual celebration. It took us just one year to become BEST friends. Needless to say, for 10 years after that I would be at her place throughout the festival, and even for several evenings before that to make the decoration for the idol to be set in. Those were quite fun times, with the two days filled to the brim with festivities. We would wake up really early in the morning, her dad and uncles would do the pooja (where we would help), and then her mom and granny would do the modaks (where we would again help).
Giving those complicated structural designs to the rice flour dough and then filling it with a sweet sticky coconut mixture, we would get our hands totally messy. And if the coconut particles would get into the dough, that was the end if that particular modak, and we had to redo it. But everyone was patient with us, and soon, we somewhat mastered the art of making a beautiful modak. Ketki was always good at it, but I had a tough time getting them into the right shape.
This post is dedicated to the Ganpati at Ketki’s house and to her mom. For giving me beautiful memories and allowing me to be a part of their home and their hearts.
Now, I will get down to the recipe of this ukadiche modak. Not only in Maharashtra, but several states in south India have different ways of making this steamed delicacy. In essence it is much like momos. The outer cover of these dumplings is made with rice flour and it is filled with coconut and jaggery mixture.
Ukadiche Modak (Coconut and Jaggery Dumplings) Recipe :
- 1 and 1/2 cup freshly dessicated coconut
- 3/4 cup jaggery, chopped into small pieces
- 4 tablespoons khova / mava
- 1/4 tsp cardamom powder (optional)
- 3 cups fine Basmati rice flour
- 3 cups of water
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter / mild unflavored cooking oil
In theory the modak look very easy to make, but can get a bit complicated when actually making it. Worry not, follow the instructions carefully and they will be done well.
- Combine the dessicated coconut, jaggery and khova and cook in a large skillet / kadhai over medium high heat. It will take about 5 minutes for the jaggery to melt. Stir continuously. Once all the jaggery is melted, mix vigorously and take it off the heat. Let is cool down. You can add cardamom powder to it once it has cooled down.
- In another skillet heat 3 cups water and bring it to a boil. Then lower the heat and sprinkle rice flour into the boiling water and mix vigorously with the handle of a spoon. Add the unsalted butter, give a quick mix, cover with a tight lid and let it simmer for only 2-3 minutes on low heat.
- Take it off the heat. Coat your hands with a mixture of oil and water. Now comes the tough part of kneading it.
- On a lightly greased surface, knead the dough well, till it is very soft and pliable. The dough needs to be knead for atleast 10 minutes , to ensure that there are no lumps in it and till it becomes very soft.
- Keep your hands well coated with oil and water mixture, because the kneading has to be done when the dough is still steaming hot.
- Now comes the fun part. Divide the dough in the 3 inch balls. (keep the rest of the dough covered with a damp cloth at all times).
- With your fingers, spread the dough to form a bowl. Then scoop in sufficient amount (about 3/4 to 1 tbsp) of coconut mixture in the rice flour bowl. Now pinch the edges of the rice dough bowl and with a rotating motion, bring it closer and seal the top of the dough bowl. It might look messy for beginners, but as long as you keep the cover thin, it will taste delicious.
- Take a pressure cooker vessel, line it with a damp cloth. Arrange all the modaks on it and steam it in the pressure cooker for about 10 minutes.
Serve it with a dollop of ghee.
- If khova/ mava is not available, replace it with equal amount of sweetened condensed milk.
- The dough has to be knead well to give it pliability to make beautiful designs. My dad/ husband generally kneads it for me. Go rope in some brute force for this task.
- If after kneading, the dough feels dry, add some water and oil mixture, a teaspoon at a time and continue kneading till it becomes soft.
And lastly, it tastes delicious. Don’t worry too much about getting the shape and structure perfect. It is an art mastered with practice.My granny used to make seven tiered modaks, seven on top of each other, starting from same one ball of dough. Not seven, but I can manage to do two, will son upload a picture of that.
Do let me know if you have some special , heirloom way of making modaks.
Ganpati bappa morya!! Have fun. And may god shower you with his blessings.
just loved your blog and your receipes.
I AM MARATHI but got married in Karnataka and very fond of cooking and reading ..just loved the simplicity of expressing ur feelings in words. somehow feeling connected to you.
keep it up.