It’s time to welcome the cute and lovable Lord Ganesha into our homes! Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated in honour of the birth of Lord Ganpati in many parts of India. Originally the festival was a quiet affair and celebrated by families in their own homes. However, after the uprising of 1857, freedom fighter Lokmanya Tilak declared that this was a religious festival, and people needed to meet and celebrate it as a social gathering. His main objective was to gather a crowd to discuss strategies for freedom. Ever since then, till date, we invite people to our homes to celebrate this wonderful festival. People invite Lord Ganesha to their homes with colourful sweets and savouries and, of course, modaks which are his favorite sweet!
Do you know how modaks came to be his favourite food? Legend has it that Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati were once graced by demi-gods and presented with a unique and divine modak. Anyone who ate this would be bestowed with an immense knowledge of science, art and writing. The goddess wanted both her sons Ganesha and Karthikeya to have this divine modak. But they were not keen on sharing it, so she decided to test both of them to see who deserved to win it.
She asked them what devotion and sincerity meant to each of them. Eager to relish the modak, Lord Karthikeya went on a tour of all the spiritual places on Earth. On the other hand, Lord Ganesha said that devotion and sincerity is having love for your parents and merely encircled his parents. Delighted with his sincerity, his parents gifted him the modak. He is truly the God of wisdom and remover of obstacles, which is why all prayers and offerings begin with worshipping Lord Ganesha. And since our big-bellied God loves modaks so much, during this festival, we offer it as bhog to him. The prasad modak is a traditional steamed rice paste dumpling filled with coconut and jaggery.
However, nowadays in many pandals, we see Ganeshas made out of unique items like chocolate, tutti frutti, grains. Here are some unique modaks you can serve to guests when they come for darshan to your home.
Chocolate candied fruit modak
- ½ cup compound white, dark or milk chocolate
- 1 cup finely chopped candied fruits like pineapples, kiwi, apricots and/or dry fruits like almonds, cashews and pistachios
- Modak shaped moulds
- Chop the choice of chocolate into small pieces. The smaller the pieces, the easier to melt.
- The chocolate can be melted in microwave or by the double boil method. For the double boil method, boil water in a deep-bottomed pan, then in a smaller vessel put the chocolate and place it over the boiling water until the chocolate has metlted. If you are melting the chocolate in a microwave, stir the chocolate after every 30 seconds to avoid the chocolate from burning.
- Pour the chocolate into the mould, making an outer layer and drain the excess chocolate out.
- In the gap place the candied fruit or nuts. Once you’ve placed the fruit or/and nut filling pour some more melted chocolate and seal the gap, in the mould you have chosen.
- Place the moulds in the fridge for 10-12 minutes. Tap the mould very gently and the chocolate will come out easily.
- Enjoy these candied chocolate modaks!
(using the traditional rice flour/maavu)
Ingredients for the dumplings
- 100 gm rice flour
- 1 tsp non flavoured oil
- A pinch of salt
- ¼ cup boiling hot water
For the filling
- ¼ cup grated paneer
- 3 to 4 tbsp finely chopped pistachios
- 2 to 3 tbsp powdered sugar
- ½ tsp cardamom powder
- A few strands of saffron soaked in 2 tsp of warm milk to release the colour and flavour
- Put the rice flour into a bowl. Add in the oil and salt and mix together. Make a little depression in the rice flour and start pouring the hot water in a steady stream. Please ensure the water is boiling hot when you add it to the rice flour.
- Mix little by little with a wooden spoon and stir well. Add just enough water so that it comes together as dough.
- Knead lightly and cover with a damp cloth, till you are ready to use.
For preparing the filling:
- Add the grated paneer, cardamom powder, pistachios, saffron strands and milk. Mix together till it forms into a ball. Make ten balls and keep aside. Take the rice dough ball in your hand, and make a little depression in the middle. Place the paneer mixture in the gap created. Cover the mixture in the traditional rice flour dough and shape it like a traditional kozhukottai.
- You can then put it into a kozhukottai mould to get a more defined shape, or just place it in the steamer for ten minutes. Enjoy these traditional kozhukottai treats with an innovative filling!
Modaks with a twist
(Home baker Saritha Sundari who has a set up called Bakers Nook has provided these recipes)
Strawberry & Pistachio Modaks
- ½ cup crushed digestive or Marie biscuits
- Strawberry compote
- 1/8 cup white compound chocolate
- 2 to 3 tbsp finely chopped pistachios
- A pinch of salt
- Lightly greased readymade modak moulds
To make compote at home
Take one cup fresh chopped strawberries. Cook it down, adding two tsp of lime and three tsp of sugar. Once the mixture has cooled, blend it in a mixer grinder. Strain it and use the puree for the recipe.
To make the modaks
- Heat the strawberry fruit compote and pour over the white chocolate.
- Mix it together till the white chocolate has melted.
- If for any reason there are still pieces of unmelted chocolate, put the mixture in a microwave for a few seconds or use traditional double boil method.
- Once the mixture is melted and smooth, add it to the crushed biscuits little by little binding it together, making a dough which holds well. (Even if the compote chocolate mixture is left over, do not add it if the dough has already turned out well).
- Take the dough mixture and put in the ready-made mould.
- Once the mixture is placed in the mould, make a small depression at the bottom, to create a cavity where a little chopped pistachio is placed.
- Keep in the fridge for five minutes.
- Remove from fridge and from the moulds. Your biscuit based strawberry modaks can now be enjoyed!
The above recipe will make around ten modaks, depending on the mould.