For me, Ganesh Chaturthi is incomplete without Ukadiche Modak. All these years I devoured yummy modak made by mom and then later by my cook. This time I thought of giving it a try. To be honest, I was quite worried about making the modak cover from rice flour (ukad). I had heard things like how making ukad requires practice, getting the desired consistency is not easy, everything depends on the rice flour etc etc. Now I don’t know if it was beginner’s luck or what but I got it right the first time. I didn’t get the stuffing—which is the easy part—right the first time though. 😀 Other than asking my mom for the recipe, I had also looked up tons of videos of ukadiche modak recipe. So I kind of got confused as to how much jaggery I should use and ended up adding more jaggery than required; I had to compensate by adding more grated coconut to the stuffing (saran). From now onward I will stick to the proportion I have mentioned in this ukadiche modak recipe.
Another drawback of watching too many videos is you run the risk of your recipe getting hijacked by your over-enthusiastic-about-cooking husband. Kalpesh watched a couple of recipes’ videos with me, got inspired and said: “I’ll make them. You can post it as a Guest Recipe.” He has hijacked my idea of making sabudana wada in appam pan in the past. I wasn’t about to let him steal my modak recipe too. I made a mental note of not watching any recipes’ videos while he’s in the same room and hurried on to make my modak. Kalpesh helped make quite a few modaks and I hate to admit he managed to shape them better than me. Pleating the cover does require some practice and I am sure I’ll do a better job next time.
I don’t like the uniform-looking pleats you get by using the modak moulds; I like the slightly uneven, less-clinical, hand-made modak. I think the imperfections add character, a personal touch. I made the modak slightly ahead of time so that I can post this modak recipe few days before Ganesh Chaturthi. I will be making them again on the Ganesh Chaturthi day. Hope to get neater pleats next time. 🙂 Ganapati Bappa Morya!!!
Maharashtiran Ukadiche Modak recipe of sweet steamed dumplings made using rice flour, grated coconut and jaggery.
- 2 cups fresh grated coconut
- 1 cup jaggery
- 3/4th tsp cardamom (elaichi) powder
- 2 cups rice flour
- 2 cups water
- 2-3 tbsp homemade ghee
- Add grated coconut and jaggery in a large bowl, and mix it well. Allow the mixture to sit for about 5-10 minutes. This will help release the moisture from jaggery.
- To make the rice dough (ukad), heat water in a kadai or a large vessel, add salt and 1 tsp ghee, and bring to a boil.
- Turn off heat and add about half a cup rice flour, start stirring to mix and go on adding half cup rice flour as you continue to stir. Stir properly to ensure no lumps are formed in the mixture.
- Cover the kadai and allow the ukad to get cooked in trapped steam. (I avoid using non-stick cookware unless absolutely necessary. I didn't need to use a non-stick kadai here.)
- Now to make the stuffing, heat another kadai and add 1-1.5 tbsp ghee. Add the coconut and jaggery mixture, and mix properly.
- Add elaichi powder, keep stirring till moisture evaporates from the mixture, and then turn off heat. (Ensure that you don't overcook the mixture as burnt jaggery will spoil the taste.)
- Take off the lid covering ukad, mash it a bit using a ladle or pav-bhaji masher, and knead it to form a smooth dough. (You can grease your palms with ghee first.)
- Make lemon-sized balls of the rice dough. Ensure that the balls are smooth otherwise cracks will form in the edges of bowls made out of it.
- Make a deep bowl out of each ball by pressing it in the middle with your thumbs and applying pressure from the other side using your fingers.
- Make 6-7 pleats around the edges of the bowl, which will now look like a diya. (Pinch the edge using the thumb and index finger.)
- Use a spoon to put the stuffing inside a bowl. Don't put more than half-bowlful as you won't be able to close in the edges properly if the stuffing is too much. (I've put too much in the pic above. You need to put less than that.)
- Bring the pleats together by applying pressure from outside and then seal them at the center to resemble a tapered top.
- Cook all modaks in a steamer for 12-15 minutes. If you don't have a steamer, you can steam them in a cooker. Use a flat sieve with large holes (not the one with mesh) or an idli stand. Grease the surface with ghee and then put the modaks inside. (Remember to take off the cooker's whistle.)
- Check whether the modaks are cooked properly and then remove them from the pan. (When you touch the modaks, they shouldn't feel sticky.)
- Serve the modaks hot, topped with homemade ghee.
- You need about an hour to make modaks end-to-end. You can however break down this process in two parts and make the stuffing the previous day and keep it in the fridge. Next day, make the rice dough and then the steamed modaks.
- If you use organic jaggery the stuffing will be dark in color as this jaggery tends to be dark because it is not chemically processed to make it light.
- Some people add nutmeg powder, poppy seeds, dry fruits in the stuffing (saran). You can add these too if you prefer.