Lord Ganesha’s favourite sweet: Modak
Modaks are sweet stuffed deep fried dumplings steamed or fried and offered to Lord Ganesha as prasad or naivedyam.
For the outer covering :
- 1/2 cup wheat flour
- 1/2 cup refined flour/ maida
- 3 tbsp fine(chiroti)rawa/ semolina
- 2 tsp sizzling hot clarified butter(ghee)
- A pinch of salt
For the filling :
- 1 cup fresh grated coconut ( take only the white portion)
- 3/4th cup jaggery (adjust to sweetness required. I have used organic jaggery)
- 1/4th tsp cardamom powder
- A pinch of salt
- A pinch of nutmeg powder (optional)
- Oil for deep frying
The outer covering :
- In a mixing bowl combine whole wheat flour, refined flour, semolina and hot clarified butter and mix well with a spoon.Then rub the mix well with your hand. Next add little water in stages and knead into a smooth, firm dough (the dough should neither be stiff nor soft). Knead well for about 10 minutes. A sign that the dough is kneaded well is when you roll a small ball from the dough it should be smooth and should not show cracks. Apply a little oil, knead well and cover with a moist cotton/muslin cloth and set it aside for at least 30 minutes.
The inner filling :
- Heat a flat nonstick/ceramic pan and combine coconut, jaggery and cook it on low flame. The mix will first liquify and then start thickening. Cook till the mix is soft and moist(the mix should NOT be dry). Add cardamom powder, nutmeg powder, a pinch of salt, mix well and switch off the flame. Let the mix cool.
- Knead the dough that has been set aside well and divide it into equal sizes ( say the size of a marble). Roll out into 3″ diameter discs.
- In each disc place about 1 tsp or a little more of the filling in the centre. Create pleates around the edges and gather them at the top ( it’ll look like a fig to be precise). Remove the excess dough at the top. The modak should be well sealed and there should be no tear anywhere, if not the filling will come out while frying. The top of the modak should’nt be very thick, it won’t get fried properly.
- Heat oil in a kadai/ wok. Once hot gently slip in 3 to 4 modaks at a time not more. Fry them between low to medium flame till golden brown and crisp on all sides.
- Once done remove them and drain on absorbent paper. Fry the rest of the modak in a similar way.
- Since fresh coconut is used the modak stay fresh for a day at room temperature. Store leftover modak in an airtight container in the referigerator.
- As per custom when modaks are prepared at least one karanji should be prepared and vice versa. Modak and karanji go hand in hand.
- To prepare Karanji/ Crescent shaped sweet deep fried pastry, place about 2 tsp of the filling on one side of the circle, keeping the edges empty. Moisten the circumference with a little milk and gently fold the upper semicircle over the filling and press down onto the lower semicircle. Gently press the edges and with a fork press gently all over the semicircle. A decorative cutter can also be used. There should be no gap anywhere, if not the filling will come out.
- Deep fry on low flame till golden and crisp. Remove and drain on absorbent paper.
- Adding a mix of whole wheat flour, refined flour and semolina gives crispier modak/ karanji compared to only whole wheat flour.
- The modak/ karanji should be fried immediately if not the outer covering will crack. Cover the modak/ karanji with a moist cloth in case of delay in frying.
- The modak/ karanji should be fried on low flame. DO NOT FRY ON HIGH FLAME ( the inner covering will not get cooked). A little time consuming process,but it’s worth the effort taken.
- Modak/ Karanji can be fried in ghee or oil. I use refined groundnut oil as it has high smoking point and the pastries come out crispier too.
- Only a combination of all purpose flour( maida) and semolina can also be used to get very crisp pastries.
- Instead of water, milk can be used to knead the dough.
- Modak/ karanji recipe is very versatile. You can also add thinly sliced almonds ( or any dry fruits you like) to the filling, but you have to be careful while sealing the modak as the edges of dry fruits may tear the outer covering. I prefer the simple mix.