Modak is Bhagwan Ganesha’s favorite sweet and made in many Hindu homes during the first day of Ganesh Chaturthi Festival.
The most popular variety of modak that is made is Ukadiche modak which is from the Maharashtrian Cuisine. In this post I am sharing two ways of shaping modak – with mould and without the mould.
What is Modak
Modak are steamed dumplings with an outer rice flour dough and a coconut-jaggery stuffing. These sweet dumplings are also known as Ukadiche Modak in Marathi language.
The word ukadiche means ‘that which is steamed’ or ‘steamed’. The word ‘ukad’ also means steamed rice flour dough. So in simple English “Ukadiche Modak” means steamed modak.
The South Indian variation of Modak is Kozhukattai or Kolukattai which is made during Vinayaka Chaturthi in the Southern Indian states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
How is Modak made?
The coconut-jaggery stuffing and rice dough are made initially. Then portions of the rice dough are shaped in a ball, flattened and then filled with the stuffing.
The edges of the flattened rice dough is then pleated, folded and shaped to make a beautiful fluted dumpling what we call as Modak. After shaping the Modak is then steamed.
Modak can be shaped in many ways. You can make them with the fluted petal shape or even in the shape of half-moon similar to karanji or gujia.
To give the fluted shape with hands some practice and experience is required. I prefer to use modak moulds as I find shaping with them is quicker than shaping with hands.
Many shops begin to sell the modak moulds before Ganesh Chaturthi festival. You can even buy them online. If you are beginners then you can make the half-moon shape for modak or buy the moulds.
Making modak does take quite some time and can be a messy affair, especially if you don’t get the texture of the rice dough right.
By practice, you will learn to make better modak at home. Preparing modak does require patience & effort. It is good if you have the modak moulds. They make the stuffing work easier.
Handy tips to make perfect modak
- Rice dough: The most trickiest part for many is to get the correct texture in the rice dough. If the dough is dry, you will find it difficult to shape and the resulting texture after steaming will be chewy and dense. The proportion of rice flour to water I use work perfectly for a smooth and soft dough. However do note that depending on the texture of rice flour, you may need to add a bit less or more water.
- Stuffing: Overcooking the stuffing will result in the jaggery become hard and chewy. If this happens, then just sprinkle a few tablespoons of hot water in the mixture and stir well. The hot water will breakdown the hard consistency of the jaggery and make them soft. You can even sprinkle some water and cook the mixture on low heat until it softens.
- Cracks in the dough: Less water will result in the dough being dry and having cracks. If you add more oil or ghee than this will result in the dough tearing when you shape it.
- Flattening and Shaping: Do not flatten the dough too thin or too thick. A thin dough will tear while shaping and a thick dough will take more time to cook and does not taste pleasant.
On Ganesh Chaturthi Festival
This year Ganesh Chaturthi is starting on 22 August 2020 and as usual will last for 10 days.
A happy Ganesh Chaturthi to all the readers of my blog. I pray that Bhagwan Ganesha bestows prosperity, luck and blessings to everyone. If you are looking for recipes which are made during Ganesha festival then you can check this list of 60 recipes for Ganesh Chaturthi.
The Ganesh Chaturthi festival is one festival I have grown up with. I would see as a kid how we, the devotees of Bhagwan Ganesha would bring him and worship him with so much love and prayerfulness in our hearts and homes.
This aspect of devotion and gratitude became a part of me and is something which I still have. I can never forget those days when I would simply wait for Ganesh Chaturthi festival and would not like when we had to leave Bhagwan Ganesha.
I would also wait to have the sumptuous feast, the prashad (prasad) or naivedya or bhog that was first offered to Bhagwan Ganesha and then to us. This feast had its own beautiful feeling of love and devotion infused in it.
The vegetarian feast served on plantain leaf, would consist of satvik (made without onion and garlic) food.
So there would be poori, puran poli, lentil stew (varan), a sautéed vegetable dish, steamed rice, curd, ladoo, Banana Sheera and of course modak in this feast.
Modak is a favorite sweet of the family too. We all like the sweet jaggery and coconut stuffing inside the modak. This stuffing is similar to the stuffing in Patholi (a Konkani sweet dish of rice flour pockets or rolls steamed in turmeric leaves).
Patholi is a sweet that is made during the Gauri-Ganesh festival in the regions of Konkan & Goa.
How to make modak
Making the sweet filling
1. Chop the jaggery and keep aside. Also grate the coconut and set aside. You will need 1 cup jaggery and 1 cup fresh grated coconut. If you do not have access to fresh coconut, then use frozen coconut or desiccated coconut. For desiccated coconut use fine grates or fine shreds.
2. Heat ghee in a pan. Add ½ teaspoon poppy seeds. Keep flame to a low. Fry for some seconds till the poppy seeds start crackling.
3. Then add 1 cup grated fresh coconut (100 grams) and 1 cup chopped jaggery (200 grams).
4. Mix well and cook this coconut-jaggery mixture on a low flame.
5. The jaggery will melt first. Cook on a low flame and stir often.
6. Stirring often cook this mixture till the moisture from the jaggery begins to dry – about 7 to 9 minutes. Switch off the flame. Don’t overcook as the jaggery then hardens. Keep this coconut-jaggery filling aside and let it cool completely. On cooling, the mixture will thicken more.
7. The following is an optional step. You can add 1 tablespoon rice flour to this mixture and mix well. The rice flour helps to absorb moisture if any from the stuffing. Set the stuffing aside.
Making outer cover of modak
8. In a pan add 1.5 cups water, ¼ teaspoon oil or ghee and ¼ teaspoon salt. Keep it on the stovetop.
9. Let this mixture come to a boil.
10. Add 1 cup rice flour (150 grams). You can use homemade rice flour or packaged flour. Make sure the rice flour is fresh and within its shelf period.
11. Quickly stir and mix the rice flour with the water.
12. Stir till all the rice flour is mixed with the water. Switch off the flame. Remove the pan from the burner and keep on the workplace. Cover the pan with a lid for 4 to 5 minutes.
13. Now take all the dough in a plate or 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. Knead the dough very well. If you feel the dough looks dense or hard or dry, then just add a few teaspoons of warm water and continue to knead.
14. Knead to a smooth and soft dough without any lumps.
15. Make small balls from the dough. Roll the balls till smooth in your palms. You can also apply some water on your palms, while rolling the balls. Keep the balls covered with a kitchen towel. The balls should not have cracks. They should be smooth in appearance.
Making modak without mould
16. Take a ball and flatten it with your fingers or on your palms, to a round disc or a shallow bowl shape to a medium thickness. You can apply ghee or oil in your palms, while flattening. You can keep the edges slightly thin and the center can be thick.
17. Place a few teaspoons of the prepared stuffing in the center.
18. Press the edges as shown in the pic below. You can also press the edges first and then place the stuffing.
19. 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. You can also use ready modak moulds. They are usually available in shops and market some days before the Ganesh Chaturthi festival.
Making modak with mould
20. Grease the modak mould with a bit of ghee or oil. Then close or lock the mould. Put the dough ball inside the mould and press it so that a space is made in the center. The rice dough will form a layer touching the walls of the mould.
21. Place the sweet stuffing.
22. Cover the bottom with a small piece of dough. Press and smoothen it sealing the modak.
23. Open or unlock the modak mould. Remove the modak gently from the mould. Shape all modaks this way with mould. Keep the shaped modak covered with a napkin so that the rice dough does not dry out.
24. Make all the modak this way. Brush or grease a pan with some oil or ghee. The pan can also be lined with banana leaves or turmeric leaves. Place the shaped modak in the greased pan with some space around them.
25. Take 2 to 2.5 cups water in a pot, pressure cooker or an Instant Pot steel insert. Place a trivet or a rack. Heat the water till starts to boil on a high flame. For instant pot, use the sauté option and let the water begin to boil.
26. I have stacked two pans for steaming 16 modak. But you can also steam the modak in separate batches. Just cover the shaped modak with a moist muslin or cotton napkin before you begin to steam.
27. Cover the pan and steam modak for 10 to 15 minutes on medium-low flame. On the Instant Pot, use the steam function on high for steaming and keep the steam vent in venting position so that the steam releases while steaming. Use a stop watch to set the time to 10 or 12 minutes. Once the ukadiche modak are steamed, you can drizzle a few teaspoons of ghee on them. Some modak may crack while shaping or steaming, but it is fine. You can forgive yourself if you are making modak for the first time.
28. The ukadiche modak are ready to be offered to Bhagwan Ganesha. Modak stay good for a couple of days in the refrigerator. While serving after refrigerating, steam them in a pan till warm or sprinkle some water on them and microwave till warm.
Important note: If you are making the modaks as prasad or naivedyam then please refrain from tasting the stuffing or the dough. Prepare with the utmost care, love and devotion and this prasad of modak will nourish everyone’s being subtly. Use clean utensils and good quality ingredients and prepare them in a clean and hygienic manner.
This recipe post is from the archives (Sep 2010) and has been republished on 10 August 2020.
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Ukadiche Modak is a traditional Maharashtrian steamed sweet dish offered to Bhagwan Ganesha on the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi festival.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Shaping Modak 40 mins
Total Time 1 hr 20 mins
Cuisine Indian, Maharashtrian
Difficulty Level: Difficult
Servings 16 modak
for the outer modak covering
for inner sweet filling of modak
Making modak without mould
Take a ball and flatten it with your fingers to a round disc or a shallow bowl shape. You can apply ghee or oil in your palms while flattening. Place the sweet filling in the center.
Flute and press the edges. 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.
- Rice Flour: You can use homemade rice flour or packaged rice flour.
- Jaggery: You can use a block of jaggery or even powdered jaggery.
- Coconut: In place of fresh coconut, you can add frozen grated coconut or desiccated coconut. For desiccated coconut use fine grates or fine shreds.
- Poppy seeds: You can easily skip poppy seeds.
- Dough: Make sure that the dough does not become dry or sticky. If the dough is dry, then add some more water. If it is sticky add some more rice flour.
- Stuffing: Do not overcook the stuffing as this will harden the jaggery. If this happens, then just sprinkle a few tablespoons of hot water in the stuffing mixture and mix very well. The hot water will breakdown the hard consistency of the jaggery and make them soft. You can even sprinkle some water and cook the mixture on low heat until it softens.
- Cracks in the dough: Less water will result in the dough being dry and having cracks. Do not add more oil or ghee than what is mentioned in the recipe as this will result in the dough tearing when you shape it.
- Flattening and Shaping: Do not flatten the dough too thin or too thick. A thin dough will tear while shaping and a thick dough will take more time to cook and will taste doughy and unpleasant.
- Note that the nutritional information is for 1 modak.
Calories: 106kcalCarbohydrates: 20gProtein: 1gFat: 2gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 39mgPotassium: 29mgFiber: 1gSugar: 11gVitamin A: 1IUVitamin B1 (Thiamine): 1mgVitamin B2 (Riboflavin): 1mgVitamin B3 (Niacin): 1mgVitamin B6: 1mgVitamin C: 1mgVitamin E: 1mgCalcium: 7mgVitamin B9 (Folate): 2µgIron: 1mgMagnesium: 6mgPhosphorus: 17mgZinc: 1mg
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