Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations, spread over 10 days, can never be complete without modaks topped with a drizzle of ghee. Modak is also known as Kozhakattai in Tamil, Modhaka or Kadubu in Kannada, and Kudumu in Telugu. It is one of the most popular sweets in Maharashtra, made and consumed especially during Ganesh Festival. As per Hindu mythology, Ganpati Bappa as he fondly called by his devotees, was fond of eating sweets. Modaks were one of his favourite sweets. This is how He came to be known as Modakpriya, which means the one who loves modak. Lord Ganesha is offered 21 modaks as bhog and served as prasad.
The colourful festival begins tomorrow, and here’s the reason why Lord Ganesha loves modaks and why he is offered 21 modaks during the festival, starting from His homecoming (sthapana) to bidding him goodbye (visarjan).
Modaks are cooked as both steamed (also known as Ukadiche Modak) or fried dumpling variants and made of maida (refined flour). Their traditional recipe includes fillings of grated coconut and jaggery with a hint of nutmeg.
Why does Lord Ganesha love modak
Lord Shiva once visited Anusuya, the wife of an ancient Rishi (sage) named Atri, at their home in the forest. Lord Shiva was hungry and asked to be served food at the earliest. Anusuya, however, said that she would serve Lord Shiva only once Bal Ganesha’s hunger had been satiated.
Lord Shiva, irked by this, controlled and waited to eat while Bal Ganesha was served wide array of food items. Lord Ganpati ate everything he was served but he still didn’t feel full. His mother, Goddess Parvati, too was stunned to see this.
Upon realising that Lord Shiva would not have anything left to eat due to Ganpati’s insatiable hunger, Anusuya served the little lord a single piece of sweet. Ganpati let out a loud burp when he ate this, hence indicating that he was finally full. Surprisingly enough, Lord Ganesha’s burp was accompanied by Lord Shiva’s 21 burps!
Goddess Parvati was curious to know what this sweetened food item was that instantly filled Bal Ganesha’s stomach. When she learnt that it was a modak, Goddess Parvati expressed her wish that Lord Ganpati’s devotees must offer modaks to him, which has carried on across generations ever since.
Another mythological story about Lord Ganesha’s love for modaks is mentioned in the Puranas. This legend is associated with Lord Ganpati’s grandmother Menavati (Goddess Parvati’s mother). Menavati would pamper her grandson by preparing laddoos for him. But as baby Ganesha grew older, so did his appetite for laddoos. Goddess Parvati realised that preparing a large number of laddoos in a short span of time might be impossible and so she decided to make another dish that he would equally relish. Hence a sweet made of rice flour, coconut, jaggery and ghee was offered to Lord Ganesha, which he happily gorged on.
Here are some recipes for modaks, including one for the weight-watchers. Read on:
* Modak recipe
For the shell:
– 1 cup water
– 2 tsp ghee
– 1 cup rice flour
For the filling:
– 1 cup coconut (grated)
– 1 cup jaggery
– A pinch of nutmeg
– A pinch of saffron
Add the grated coconut and jaggery to a heated pan.
Keep stirring for around five minutes. Add nutmeg and saffron and mix well.
Keep cooking for another five minutes and keep on the side.
Boil water with ghee in a deep dish. Add flour and mix well.
Now cover the dish and cook till its half done.
Put some ghee on the base of a steel bowl and knead while the dough is still hot (exercise caution).
Take some dough and roll it into a ball. Place the flattened dough into a mould or make a flower-shaped pattern with your hands.
Put a spoonful of the filling inside the dough and seal it.
Place the dumplings in a muslin cloth and steam them for 15 minutes. Alternately, these can be fried too.
* Chocolate modak
For the modak
– 6 Go Chocolate Cheese slices
– ½ cup Desiccated coconut
– ¼ cup Powdered sugar
For the filling
– ½ cup White chocolate chips
– ¼ cup Dates, chopped
For the modak, knead the chocolate cheese slices and desiccated coconut together.
Add in powdered sugar and mix it well. Knead and make soft dough.
For the filling, mix white chocolate chips and dates together.
Take a modak mould and fill in the dough. Make a cavity in the centre and fill it.
Close the cavity with small portion of the dough.
Secure firmly, and de-mould it. Repeat the same for the others and serve.
* The healthy Ukadiche Modak recipe
Makes 8 servings
Ingredients for the dough:
1 cup of rice flower
1 tsp of virgin coconut oil
1 ½ cups water
Salt to taste
Ingredients for the filling:
1 cup grated jaggery
1 ½ cup freshly grated coconut
1 tsp rice flour
2 tsp virgin coconut oil
1 tsp cardamom powder
1 tbsp poppy seeds
6-7 pistachios, chopped
6-7 almonds, chopped
4-5 cashews, chopped
1 tbsp raisins (optional)
Begin by making the stuffing for the modak, combine virgin coconut oil, jaggery and grated coconut in a non stick pan. Cook the mixture for about 2-3 minutes only, do not overcook
Then add the cardamom powder, poppy seeds (roasted), and other ingredeints of the filling and mix well. Keep it aside for later use
In the same pan, heat water, virgin coconut oil and add a pinch of salt. Bring it to a boil before reducing the flame while stirring continuously to avoid the formation of lumps. After the boil reduce the flame to low and cook for another 2-3 minutes
Then turn of the heat and cover the mixture with a lid for 5 minutes. Take the dough out in a big bowl or plate and allow it to cool enough so you can knead it. You can dip your hand in room temperature water and knead the hot dough thoroughly. It should be smooth and pliable, if not add a little warm water and knead again
Now to form the modak, take a small ball of dough and roll it between the palms, flattening and stretching the dough to a disk shape of 3-4 inches in diameter
Start filling the disc shaped dough with the modak filling prepared previously. After you have sufficiently filled the modak, pinch the edges of the disc to make protruded edges and bring together the folds in the centre
Make all the modaks in a similar way, do not over fill them
Use a steamer and steam the modaks for 15-20 minutes or till they are done
Neatly place them on a plate a serve!
— Recipe courtesy Nutritionist Sheryl Salis
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