Ukadiche modak step-by-step recipe with photos.
What is modak
Modak is a traditional sweet similar to dumplings. According to Hindu mythology, it is considered the favourite dish of Lord Ganesha. It is usually made with rice flour and has a coconut and jaggery filling. This Maharashtrian dish is also called modaka in Kannada, modakulu in Telugu, and modhakum in Tamil. There are two cooking methods to make it - steamed and deep-fried. It is the most important offering to Lord Ganesha during Ganesha Chaturthi.
"Ukadiche" means steamed. The recipe I am sharing here is for steamed modaks which has an outer covering made of rice flour and a filling made with coconut and jaggery. Read on for all the tips, tricks, and FAQs to make the perfect modakam this festive season.
Lord Ganesha's Favourite Food
Lord Ganesha is also known as 'modakapriya' - one who loves modaks. Like all Indian festivals, Ganesha Chaturthi is also celebrated with lots of food, and modak being a mandatory offering to Lord Ganesha. It is believed that offering 21 modaks to Lord Ganesha is very auspicious.
According to Hindu mythology, Goddess Parvati was once presented with a modak by the Devas and was told that the person who ate it would become the most knowledgeable. Parvati wanted to present it to both her sons - Karthik and Ganesha; however, the brothers were not ready to share the modak. So Lord Shiva and Parvati presented a contest to them and said the person who first completes three rounds of the world will get the modak. Lord Karthik immediately took his 'vahana' (vehicle), a peacock, and began to make the rounds. However, Lord Ganesha took three rounds of his parents and said that this was the whole world for him. Impressed by this, Parvati gave him the modak and it has been his favourite ever since.
Rice flour: I use homemade rice flour in this recipe. However, store-bought rice flour can also be used.
Coconut: Use freshly grated coconut.
Jaggery: This refined sugar-free modakum is sweetened with jaggery.
Cardamom powder: This is an optional ingredient; however, I highly recommend using cardamom powder as it adds a beautiful aroma to the dish.
Ghee: A small amount of ghee is used in the making of the filling.
How to shape ukadiche modak
Shaping of modaka can be done either by using a mould or with hands. I prefer to use a mould to shape them as they will be uniform and cook evenly. Also, shaping with hands is very time-consuming and the finished dumplings may not be as neat. The modakum moulds are easily available in many stores across India and in Indian stores outside India during the festival season. There are several online stores that sell them too. If you are unable to get one, you can use a dumpling mould - they may not be the traditional modaks but will still taste delicious.
Here, I am shaping the modaks with a mold. To shape with without a mold:
A. Take a small portion of dough and make a dent in the center
B. Using your finger and thumb, start flattening it gently, moving the dough in a circular motion
C. Pinch the sides using your thumb and finger to create pleats
D. Add 1 tbsp coconut filling to the center
E. Gently bring the pleats together and seal the modak carefully
F. Place it in the steamer plate for steaming and steam them as per this recipe
Tips for making perfect ukadiche modak
The rice flour used must be very fine. It is best to sieve the rice flour to make sure there are no big chunks. This is an optional step if you are using very fine rice flour.
Water and rice flour have to be in equal amounts. Use the same measuring cup to measure them. It may take 2-3 tbsp more water to shape the dough but definitely not less. Do not reduce the amount of water. If the water is less while kneading add 1 tbsp warm water at a time and knead. Do not add cold or room temperature water.
Make sure the water has come to a rolling boil before adding the rice flour. Let the flour sit for 5-7 minutes.
It is important to knead the dough while it is still warm. But the shaping can be done even after the dough cools down.
Keep the dough covered when shaping so that it doesn't dry out. Even if it dries out, don't add more water. Just wet your hands when shaping the dough.
Grease the mould with ghee. This will help in removing them easily after shaping.
The jaggery I used is very soft and melts easily. If you are using hard blocks of jaggery, grate it before using it so that it melts easily.
The coconut mixture has to be thick and without any moisture content. To check if it is ready, take a small portion of the mixture and roll it. It should come together and form a ball. If it falls apart, continue stirring for a few more minutes and check again.
Make sure the coconut filling is completely cooled before using.
Do not spread the dough too thin (both with and without mould). Else, the modak will break when steamed.
Modak dough will crake during shaping if the dough is too dry. If this happens, add 1 tbsp warm water at a time and knead the dough again.
This happens if the amount of rice flour is less than water. Always use 1:1 rice flour and water. Measure them using the same measuring cup.
Very fine rice flour must be used. I use homemade rice flour. Store-bought ones can also be used. It is best to sieve it before using it.
The modakas can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days. You can leave them in room temperature if you are consuming them on the same day. To reheat them, place them in a steamer for 4-5 minutes.
I have not tried it using dry coconut. But if you use dry or desiccated coconut, it is best to add some water when cooking the filling.
The coconut filling will become hard if the jaggery hardens. If this happens, place the filling on low heat for a few minutes so that the jaggery melts.
The mythology story behind this: Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvati, and Lord Ganesha once visited Rishi Atri and his wife Anusuya. Anusuya said that she will serve Lord Shiva only after she satiates Lord Ganesha's hunger. Despite many delicacies, Lord Ganesha's hunger was not satisfied. That is when Anusuya fed him a sweet and Ganesha burped showing he was satisfied. Hearing his burp, Lord Shiva burped 21 times indicating he was satisfied too. Parvati then asked Anusuya about the sweet and learned that it was modaka that satisfied Ganesha's hunger. Goddess Parvati then wished that Lord Ganesha should be offered 21 modaks.
Other modak recipes
These are some other modak recipes you can try during this Ganesh Chaturthi.
This recipe is:
- authentic and traditional
- perfect for Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations
- easy to follow and includes all tips and tricks
Step by step instructions
1. Heat ghee in a kadhai. Add coconut and jaggery. Mix well
2. Keep stirring until the mixture thickens and comes together. Add cardamom powder
3. Check if the mixture is done by rolling a small portion into a ball (see tips above)
4. Let the filling cool completely
3. Sieve the rice flour
4. Add water in a large kadhai and bring it to boil (this is an optional step if the rice flour is very fine)
5. Once it comes to a rolling boil, add salt and ghee
6. Reduce the heat and add the rice flour. Mix well until all the flour is absorbed. Cover and let it rest for 5 minutes
7. While the flour is still warm, transfer to a large pan and being kneading
8. Continue kneading for 5-6 minutes until it is soft and pliable
9. Add some dough to the mould and press it to the wall of the mould
10. Add 1 tbsp filling in the center
11. Add some dough on top of the filling and press it gently to seal completely
12. Unmould the modak and place it on a steamer plate
13. Steam them for 10 minutes or until they are shiny and glossy
For the filling
- 2 cups coconut
- 1 cup jaggery
- 1 tbsp ghee
- ½ tsp cardamom powder
To make the filling
- Heat ghee in a kadhai
- Add coconut and jaggery. Mix well
- Keep stirring until the mixture thickens and comes together
- Add cardamom powder and mix well. Let it cool completely
To make the dough
- Add water in a large kadhai and bring it to boil
- Once it comes to rolling boil, add salt and ghee
- Reduce the heat and add the rice flour. Mix well until all the flour is absorbed
- Cover and let it rest for 5 minutes
- While the flour is still warm, transfer to a large pan and begin kneading
- Continue kneading for 5-6 minutes until it is soft and pliable
- The dough is ready. Keep it covered with a damp cloth to prevent it from drying out
Shaping modak without mould
- Take a small portion of dough and make a dent in the center
- Using your finger and thumb, start flattening it gently, moving the dough in circular motion
- Pinch the sides using your thumb and finger to create pleats
- Add 1 tbsp coconut filling in the center
- Gently bring the pleats together and seal the modak carefully
- Place it in the steamer basket for steaming
Shaping modak with mould
- Lightly grease the modak with little ghee and close the mould
- Add some dough in the mould and press it to the wall of the mould
- Make sure the entire mould is covered and there is gap in the center for the filling
- Add 1 tbsp filling in the center (adjust the amount of filling depending on the size of the mould)
- Add some dough on the filling and press it gently to seal the modak completely (see step by step pictures above)
- Unmould the modak and place it in steamer basket
Steaming the modak
- Pour approximately 2 cups of water in the steamer and bring it to boil
- Place the steamer basket and steam the modak for 10 minutes
- Modak are ready