All food ( unless of course its icecream or cold cuts ) tastes absolutely yummy when its hot, steaming hot or piping hot, burn your gullet as you swallow hot……you get the drift I’m sure.
But what is absolutely most divine is the fresh coconut stuffed modak that is made in our home only for that time of year when Lord Ganesh comes visiting by. Story has it that Lord Ganesh so stuffed himself with modak that when he was returning home after a heavy dinner one night, on his tiny Mouse( the equivalent of the modern day Beetle or Pinto or Chevrolet – cars that have been named after animals ?) he fell off and his stomach burst open and all the modak came tumbling out. The moon who was the only one watching couldn’t stop himself from laughing and the more he laughed the angrier Lord Ganesh got. He got up cursing the moon ” For your insubordination I shall make sure you don’t shine anymore!”
Immediately the world was plunged into darkness and everything went haywire – the tides, the diurnal cycles of all living creatures indeed the whole world went upside down. So the Gods begged Ganesh to revoke his curse so he modified it such that anyone who sees the moon during the ten days that Ganesh comes down to earth will have to face bad luck.
The world then went back to its ways of the world and Ganesh went back to his happy days. But just to make sure that his stomach doesn’t split open again, he belted it with a snake and gave the world its first snakeskin belt!
Steamed modak have always been hard to resist so it is not surprising that Lord Ganesh stuffed himself so. If you want to follow His example go down to a shop that specialises in Maharashtrian cuisine and ask for a dozen or so steamed modak stuffed with fresh coconut. There are fried modak too make out of flour and there are modak stuffed with dried coconut as well so be very specific that you want Steamed modak with fresh coconut stuffing. However for those of you with a culinary bent, why not make them yourself?
For the stuffing you will need
1 large coconut grated – making sure that the meat is white.
sugar or jaggery to taste
1 tspn powdered cardamom
2-3 strands of saffron
Mix all the ingredients together and set aside till the sugar dissolves. Then heat it on a low flame till the coconut turns translucent and the mixture comes together….
For the pastry you will need
2 cups of rice flour
2 cups water
pinch of salt
1 tspn ghee
Bring the water to the boil in a saucepan and then briskly add the rice flour stirring quickly to prevent it from becoming lumpy. Add the salt and ghee and turn off the heat and cover the pot and leave to cook in its own heat. When cool empty the dough into a deep dish and knead well to form a smooth sticky dough.
To assemble the modak you will have to make a flat disk the size of a saucer either with your hand or rolled out thin on a pastry board. Place a tablespoon of the stuffing in the centre of the disc and bring the sides together pinching at regular intervals to make a fluted bowl. Bring the rim of the “bowl” to the centre and close with a sharp point. The modak resembles a garlic bulb. Place the modak in a colander or steamer lined with a moist cloth to prevent sticking and steam for 10 minutes.
Serve hot with a generous drizzling of ghee.
Make sure that the dough is kept covered to prevent it from drying out and carefully take out just as much as you need to make a disc. Similarly, once you assemble the modak, keep covered under a moist cloth till you get enough to steam a batch.
I must warn you that making modak sounds easier than it really is. To make the perfectly fine, delicate pastry stuffed just right takes a lot of practice…….So why are you waiting. Get started right away!!!