Ukadiche Modak {Steamed rice dumplings with coconut and jaggery stuffing}

Ukadiche Modak – an exquisite Maharashtrian delicacy made with steamed rice flour dough, stuffed with aromatic and sweet coconut, jaggery, nutmeg, cardamom and saffron filling. These Modaks are offered to Lord Ganesh and made especially during the ten-day celebration of the Ganesha festival which started this week. There are literally dozens of ways to make a modak, but of course my mom had to spoil us with these luscious, heavenly ‘ukadiche modak’. 

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Over the years that I have started cooking, I have tried to convince myself to like the other kinds of modak as well. Why… because I was terrified to make this steamed modak on my own. Some of my initial attempts resulted in some sad looking modak. Some would tear apart in the mold and if they survived the mold, they would burst open while steaming. It was quiet tiring to keep up with the hot rice flour dough, ‘ukad’  and then making 11 or 21 perfect ones was frustrating. Some of the years when I was in India for this festival, the thought of trying to learn them from my mom never crossed my mind. My sole interest at that time was to only indulge in them.

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Back in 2000, I came across an article in an Indian newspaper that was all about foods to prepare during the Ganesha festival. The article was extremely detailed and had not one or two but NINETEEN tips on just how to make the outer covering properly! It also explained five different types of fillings. I was not interested in the different fillings as I prefer the   the authentic filling of coconut and Jaggery. It was this article that gave me a lot of confidence and tips that  over the years my modak making skills have improved drastically.

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So while I thought I had mastered making pretty good modak, I realized that I was still not making them the right way. During my trip to India this year, my cousin, Prajakta, came all the way from Panchgani to spend time with me during the last few days of my stay at my mom’s house. With my frenzy of packing, I was feeling guilty that I would be unable to spend some quality time with her. Realizing that Prajakta is an expert in making modak, we decided to spend the afternoon chatting and making the modak together.

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We had a great afternoon together filled with laughter and memories. The biggest take away for me that afternoon was how to make perfectly soft outer shell. The key is to let the steamed dough cool down and then knead well until it becomes extremely soft and moist. There really is no reason to rush working on the steaming dough while it is hot. Let the dough cool down enough to be handled. At first, even though the dough may seem a little dry and coarse, knead it well with few spoons of warm water and a little bit of  ghee. This will make the dough perfectly soft and moist for making modak shells. The modak can then be assembled at leisure using the dough and the sweet filling. Prajakta makes these gorgeous tri-color handmade modak, while I still am relying on my mold to make them perfectly uniform.

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I am so glad I spent that afternoon learning to make modak from the pro, my cousin Prajakta!

Here is a step by step recipe for you to make and enjoy the soft and luscious modak with few ingredients – rice flour, jaggery, ghee, coconut, saffron, nutmeg and cardamom:

IMG_9891.jpgBring 2 cups of water to boil. Add salt and 1 tsp ghee. Turn the heat to low and add the rice flour. Mix it well with a spoon. Cook covered for 2-3 mins on low heat.Turn the heat off and pour the dough in a mixing bowl and let it cool.

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To make the stuffing, grate the jaggery or break into small pieces using a pestle. In a heavy bottom pan gently roast the coconut on medium heat for 2 minutes. Add jaggery, saffron, nutmeg powder and cardamom powder and cook on low heat for another 2 minutes. Mix well and keep aside. This stuffing can be made a couple of days in advance and refrigerated until ready to be used.

IMG_9897.jpgKnead the rice dough using 1 tsp of ghee and 1-2 tbsp of warm water for 10 mins until the dough is soft and moist. Make lemon sized balls with the dough and keep aside.

IMG_9897.jpgApply little oil on the inside of the mold. Close the mold and spread the rice dough inside the mold and start shaping it around gently with your fingers.Some of the dough will also come outside of the mold which will be used to seal the modak. Gently put about 1 tsp of stuffing inside the mold.  Seal the bottom with the extra dough that is outside of the mold. Gently open the mold and put the modak in a steaming rack.

Here is a Video on how I use the mold:

Repeat this for rest of the modak. Start heating some water in the steamer pot. Once all the modak are ready, put the steaming rack inside the steamer pot and cook covered for 10 mins on low to medium heat.

IMG_9902.JPG Turn the heat off, let the modak cool for 5 mins. Gently remove them from the steaming rack onto a plate. Enjoy!

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Recipe:

Prep time: 30 mins  Cooking time:30 mins    Total time: 60 mins

Ingredients:

1 cup fresh grated coconut (Frozen works well too)
3/4 cup jaggery
3 tsp ghee
1/4 tsp cardamom powder
1/8 tsp nutmeg powder
1/4 tsp saffron
2 cups rice flour
1/4 tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Bring 2 cups of water to boil. Add salt and 1 tsp ghee. Turn the heat to low and add the rice flour. Mix it well with a spoon. Cook covered for 2-3 mins on low heat.Turn the heat off and pour the dough in a mixing bowl and let it cool.
  2. To make the stuffing, grate the jaggery or break into small pieces using a pestle. In a heavy bottom pan gently roast the coconut on medium heat for 2 minutes. Add jaggery, saffron, nutmeg powder and cardamom powder and cook on low heat for another 2 minutes. Mix well and keep aside. This stuffing can be made a couple of days in advance and refrigerated until ready to be used.
  3. Knead the rice dough using 1 tsp of ghee and 1-2 tbsp of warm water for 10 mins until the dough is soft and moist. Make lemon sized balls with the dough and keep aside.
  4. Apply little oil on the inside of the mold. Close the mold and spread the rice dough inside the mold and start shaping it around gently with your fingers.Some of the dough will also come outside of the mold which will be used to seal the modak. Gently put about 1 tsp of stuffing inside the mold.  Seal the bottom with the extra dough that is outside of the mold. Gently open the mold and put the modak in a steaming rack.
  5. Repeat step 5 for rest of the modak. Start heating some water in the steamer pot. Once all the modaks are ready, put the steaming rack inside the steamer pot and cook covered for 10 mins on low to medium heat. Turn the heat off, let the modak cool for 5 mins. Gently remove them from the steaming rack onto a plate. Enjoy!

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49 thoughts on “Ukadiche Modak {Steamed rice dumplings with coconut and jaggery stuffing}

  1. Archana these modals look awesome and perfect. Can’t guess you stumbled over making these. Lovely pictures. Love the colour modak. Very innovative. Adding colour to life. Actually sometimes mom’s recipe to follow is difficult until you learn keen and live. Thanks to your cousin who taught you. Will try these sometime for sure. 👍🏼. Am drooling to have one of those. Delicious.
    Meena

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Meena for your kind words! And Mom agreed that we both learned a new technique. It was so much fun learning them with my cousin and now I am totally enjoying the process. Do let me know how you like them.

      Liked by 1 person

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