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Modak pronounced Mo (Mo as in "more") + the (as the word "the") + 'K' as in 'K'ing = Mo+the+K, is a sweet dish which originated in the Indian state of Maharashtra.
Usually, modaks are made with an outer crust of rice flour, and a filling of coconut (sweetened with jaggery or, sometimes, sugar). Saffron is also added sometimes. Modaks are then steamed, and are served either hot or cold. Sometimes they are also deep-fried to increase their shelf life.
It is considered to be the favorite food item of Lord Ganesh. It is customary to offer twenty-one or one hundred eight modaks to Lord Ganesh.
It is a typically Maharashtrian delicacy . It gained prominence and became famous during the rule of the Peshwas, who were staunch Ganesh worshipers.
No Ganesh chaturthi is considered to be complete without "ukdiche modak".
The same is the case with the Ganesh Chaturthi as celebrated in Tamil Nadu, where the Modak is again the speciality of the day. In Tamil, it is called the Kozhukattai.
Nowadays confectioners make modaks out of condensed milk i.e same material that "pedas" are made of.
The filling inside the modak is called "saaran" and is made of coconut. Traditionally, the filling is not dry . It should be wet and syrupy.
Making perfect modaks is a skill as the outer layer should not be too thick nor too thin so as to rupture.
For the filling —
- 2 cup shredded fresh coconut
- 1 cup jaggery
- 1 teaspoon roasted poppy seeds
- 1 teaspoon rice flour
- 3-4 cardamoms
For the outer cover —
- 1 cup rice flour
- 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoon ghee
- ½ teaspoon oil
- A pinch of salt
Mix the coconut and jaggery together, and cook it on medium heat. Stir continuously until they are mixed properly. Do not overcook.
How to know if you are close to overcooking? Check the consistency of the mixture. It should not appear totally black, but brownish in color. Also, another test experts do is with their hands (you may scald yourself doing this, so don't try), to hold the mixture between thumb and index finger, to see its not running liquid neither it is so thick that all of it sticks to finger or thumb alone. Don't worry, if you practice (cooking, not holding) enough, you will get it right. Its not as hard as it sounds. What adjustments are necessary if you are using sugar?
Add ground? cardamom, roasted poppy seeds and 1 teaspoon rice flour to the mix. Cook for some time.
Remove from the heat and allow it to cool.
- Boil 1 cup of water. When bubbles rise on top, add ghee, salt and oil and immediately add rice flour. Stir well. Cover for some time. Remove the lid and stir and cover again for a minute.
- Remove from heat. Take all the mixture in a flat plate. Knead it properly while hot (You can use a flat bowl for kneading to keep the hands from burning). Make a soft pliable dough. (Do it very carefully. The dough should be neither too sticky nor too dry.)
- Divide this dough into small balls, or 'C-Rag' as it is more commonly referred to as. Roll each ball into 1.5 inch diameter circle. Hold it in a hand and make a small bowl of it. Put some coconut filling into this bowl shaped dough. Dip thumb and index finger in the oil and make 5-6 small pinches side by side on the edges of the bowl. Bring them together, join to form a peak. It should look like a whole garlic. Prepare all other modaks like this.
- Spread a damp cloth onto a flat round sifter and arrange all the modaks onto it. Place the sifter in a steamer and cover. Steam for about 15 minutes. (Use a big size saucepan or pressure cooker if you don't have a steamer. Do not put the whistle if you use the pressure cooker.)
- Serve warm with the clarified butter, also called ghee.