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Sweet and Savoury Modaks for this Ganesh Chaturthi   

Saviour from hurdles and sadness, our own elephant God, Ganapathi Bappa, is just around the corner. Lord Ganesh brings in loads of prosperity, health and happiness. He is here to take us from darkness to light and hope. Vighnaharta is always welcomed with his favourite modaks. This humble yet delicious dish is called modak in Maharashtra, modakam or kudumu in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, kudubu in Karnataka, kozhakatta in Kerala and kozhakattai in Tamil Nadu. They are traditionally steamed or fried.    

Though each of us has our own family recipes for modak, a modern version of the modak is also accepted and relished today. Their tantalising fillings are yummy and a bonus for dieters as they can be baked too. Here we present a few sweet and savoury modaks with a twist.  

Recipes for Sweet Modak  

Sugar-free modak

Cook time: 25 mins   

Pieces: 6-8  

Type: Sweet  

Ingredients for stuffing:  

Dates: 1 cup chopped finely  

Desiccated coconut: ½ cup  

Poppy seeds: 1 tbsp  

Cashew: 2 tbsp, finely chopped  

Cardamom powder: ½ tsp  

Ghee: ½ tbsp  

Ingredients for modak wrap 

Rice flour: 2 cups  

Ghee: 1 tbsp  

Salt: a pinch  

Saffron: a few strands  

Water: 1 cup  

Method:  

  1. Boil water in a wide vessel. Add ghee, salt and saffron.
  2. To the boiling water, add rice flour and stir continuously to avoid lumps. 
  3. Once the rice flour comes together as a single lump take off the heat and let it cool. 
  4. For the stuffing: Take another pan and heat up the ghee. Add dates, desiccated coconut, poppy seeds and cashew nuts. Stir till the mixture is dry. Add cardamom powder and take off the heat. Cool well. 
  5. Take a small ball of the stuffing and cover the stuffing with the rice flour dough.  
  6. Place it in a mould to give it a shape. 
  7. Steam the modaks for 10 mins.  

(Tip: You can use shop-bought rice flour or make it at home.)   

Kairi and Gulkand Modak  

Cook time: 25 mins   

Pieces: 10-12  

Type: Sweet  

Ingredients for stuffing:  

Raw mango: 1 cup, grated  

Gulkand: 1 cup  

Raisins: 3 tbsps  

Ghee: 1 tbsp  

Brown sugar: as per taste  

Ingredients for modak wrap:  

Rice flour: 2 cups  

Ghee: 1 tbsp  

Salt: a pinch  

Pan flavour essence: 2 drops  

Green food colour: 2-3 drops  

Water: 1 cup  

Method:  

  1. Boil water in a wide vessel. Add ghee and salt.
  2. To the boiling water, add rice flour and stir continuously to avoid lumps. Once the flour is well mixed, add the food colour and essence.  
  3. When the rice flour comes together as a single lump take off the heat and let it cool. 
  4. For the stuffing: Take another pan and warm up the ghee. Add grated raw mango, raisins and sugar. Cook well till the mixture dries up. Now add gulkand and cook well till there is no moisture. Take off from heat and cool thoroughly. 
  5. Divide the stuffing into small balls and fill the modaks. 
  6. Steam the modaks for 8-10 mins.   

(Tip: Keep the water boiling in the steamer. Place the modaks only when the steam is formed.)  

Chocolate and nuts modak

Cook time: 25 mins   

Pieces: 6-8  

Type: Sweet  

Ingredients for stuffing:  

Chocolate spread: ½ cup  

Mixed fruits and nuts: ½ cup (chopped)  

Fresh Chenna: ½ cup  

Cinnamon powder: ½ tsp.  

Ingredients for modak wrap:   

Maida/ whole wheat flour: 2 cups  

Ghee: ¼ cup + for deep frying.  

Salt: a pinch  

Chilled water for kneading: 1-1 ¼ cups 

Method:  

  1. Take a wide plate and put maida, salt and ghee. 
  2. Knead this into a hard dough (Like a dough for kachori). 
  3. Let it rest for 15 mins. 
  4. For the stuffing: Take a bowl and crumble chenna well with your hand. Add chocolate spread, mixed nuts and cinnamon powder. Check for sweetness. You can add some powdered sugar if you want. Put it in the freezer for 15-30 mins depending on the weather. 
  5. Roll out the dough into small discs and fill with small balls of the stuffing. 
  6. Shape them into modaks, and deep fry them in hot ghee.  
  7. Dust them with icing sugar when they are still warm.  

(Tip: If your stuffing is wet/damp add some bread crumbs/ Sooji /desiccated coconut to soak up the moisture.) 

Recipes for Savoury Modak  

Chana dal modak    

Cook time: 25 mins   

Pieces: 10-12  

Type: Savoury  

Ingredients for stuffing:  

Chana dal: 1 cup  

Grated fresh coconut: ½ cup  

Ginger: 1 tsp grated  

Red chilli: 1  

For tempering:  

Oil: 1 tsp  

Curry leaves: 1 sprig  

Mustard seeds: 1 tsp  

Asafoetida: ¼ tsp  

Turmeric powder: ½ tsp  

Salt: to taste   

Ingredients for modak wrap:   

Rice flour: 2 cups  

Ghee: 1 tbsp  

Salt: a pinch  

Water: 1 cup 

Method:  

  1. Take water in a wide vessel and bring it to a boil. Add ghee and salt to the boiling water. 
  2. Now add rice flour in small batches and stir continuously to avoid lumps. 
  3. Once the rice flour comes together as a single lump take off the heat and let it cool. 
  4. For the stuffing: Pressure cook chana dal till well done. Take a frying pan and heat oil. Add mustard seeds and asafoetida. Once they splutter add curry leaves and turmeric powder. Add cooked chana dal, ginger and coconut. Mix well. You can mash up the dal lightly with the back of the ladle you are using. Now you can add salt and check the seasoning. Take off the heat. While still warm you can make small balls of the filling.  
  5. Grease your hands and flatten a lemon sized rice flour dough with your fingertips. Fill it up with the stuffing and cover well. Shape it up into a modak. Alternatively, you can also use a mould to shape up the modaks
  6. Steam the modak for 8-10 mins.  
  7. Serve it hot with coconut chutney. 

Masala oats modak  

Cook time: 25 mins   

Pieces: 10-12  

Type: Savoury  

Ingredients for stuffing:  

Masala oats: 2 cups  

Mixed veg: 1 cup finely chopped  

Fresh coriander leaves: finely chopped  

Water: ¾ cup   

Ingredients for modak wrap:   

Rice flour: 2 cups  

Ghee: 1 tbsp  

Salt: a pinch  

Water: 1 cup

Method:  

  1. Take water in a wide vessel and bring it to a boil. Add ghee and salt to the boiling water. 
  2. Now add rice flour in small batches and stir continuously to avoid lumps. 
  3. Once the rice flour comes together as a single lump take off the heat and let it cool. 
  4. For the stuffing: Boil water in a pan and add vegetables. Once they are semi-cooked, add the masala oats. Cover and cook for 2-3 mins till oats and veggies are well cooked, and the water has dried up. Take the pan off the heat and let it cool. Grease your hands and make small balls.  
  5. To make the modak: Flatten a lemon sized rice flour dough with your greased fingertips. Take a ball of the stuffing and place it in the centre. Cover it up with the dough. Shape it up into a modak. Alternatively, you can also use a mould to shape up the modaks
  6. Steam the modak for 8-10 mins.  
  7. Serve it hot with coriander chutney.  

(Tip: Adjust the quantity of oats in the mixture if wet/damp. For the filling the mixture has to be dry and hold shape.)

Soya matar modak

Cook time: 25 mins   

Pieces: 10-12  

Type: Savoury  

Ingredients for stuffing:  

Soya granules: 2 cups, soaked in milk  

Green peas: 1 cup, boiled  

Tomato puree: ¼ cup  

Turmeric powder: ½ tsp  

Pav bhaji masala: ½ tsp  

Garam masala: ¼ tsp  

Lemon juice: 1 tbsp  

Fresh coriander leaves: finely chopped  

Butter: 1 tbsp  

Salt: to taste  

Ingredients for modak wrap:   

Maida/ whole wheat flour: 2 cups  

Chilled butter: 3-4 tbsps  

Salt: 1 tsp  

Chilled water for kneading: 1-1 ¼ cups  

Oil: for frying

Method:  

  1. Take a wide plate and place maida, salt and butter.  
  2. Rub the butter with maida and salt till maida looks like bread crumbs. Add water and knead this into a stiff dough. 
  3. Let it rest for 20 mins. 
  4. For the stuffing: Take a frying pan and heat up the butter. Add the soya granules, peas, tomato puree, turmeric powder and pav bhaji masala. Mix well, cover and cook on a slow flame for 3-4 mins or till the moisture has evaporated. Add garam masala, lemon juice and coriander leaves. Season well and cool the mixture.  
  5. To make the modak: Flatten a lemon sized rice flour dough with your greased fingertips. Put a teaspoon of the mixture in the centre and cover it up with the dough. Shape it up into a modak. Alternatively, you can also use a mould to shape up the modaks
  6. Fry these spicy modaks and serve hot with yoghurt and mayo dip.   

A traditional filling of the modak is with coconut and jaggery. These fillings are an attempt to offer a refreshing break from the traditional ones. They can be steamed, fried or baked according to one’s liking and can be made with readily available ingredients. With the season of festivities coming up, try these unique recipes. Happy binging!!! 

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