“Ganpati Bappa Morya, Pudhchya Varshi Lavkar Ya” … and Ganpati Bappa is back!
For Maharashtrians living out of the country, these words virtually take them back home, from where ever in the world they may be! The most popular festival of Maharashtra is presently being celebrated with lot of enthusiasm and excitement. Ganesh Utsav is special to me too; it brings back many wonderful memories from my childhood.
And today, I relive those memories and keep the spirit of the festival alive by making Ganpati Bappa’s favorite - steamed Modak!
(Steamed Dumplings with sweet and spiced Coconut Filling)
If I were to give an exact definition of a ”modak“, I would say that they are a traditional Maharashtrian steamed rice-flour dumplings with a sweet filling made with grated coconut, jaggery (palm sugar) or sugar and some spices. The dumpling dough made out of rice flour is not sweet but in fact is slightly salty and compliments very well the saccharine filling inside. As delicious as it sounds, making the dough for outer covering from scratch seemed a little tough for me, given the time I had to spend in the kitchen on Ganesh Chaturthi, this past Sunday. So, I came up with a semi-homemade shortcut and put my own spin on this very traditional sweet dish. I used some “wonton wrappers” and stuffed them with the classic coconut filling ;)
To my surprise, my “dim-sum” modaks turned out great – very similar to the authentic ones Try my recipe and I guarantee, you won’t be disappointed!
Makes 21 mini “dim-sum” modaks
21 round dumpling/wonton wrappers (you should find these at any Asian stores or the speciality section of a regular supermarket)
some cold water in a bowl and basting brush
1½ cups grated coconut (thawed if using frozen)
¾ cup powdered jaggery (i.e. palm sugar) or brown sugar (dark or light)
¼ cup light cream or half ‘n’ half (or even whole milk)
1 tbsp white poppy seeds (khus khus)
1-2 tbsp Everest Milk Masala (alternatively you can coarsely grind together- 4-5 green cardamom pod seeds, 1-2 saffron strands, couple pinches of ground nutmeg, 4-5 pistachios, 4-5 cashews and 4-5 almonds)
Traditional Indian Modak / Idli Steamer or a Chinese bamboo steamer
Making the Filling
In a small saucepan, combine all the ingredients and place it on the medium low heat. Cook covered for 15-20 mins till the jaggery is completely dissolved, milk is absorbed and the coconut is cooked through. Stir occassionally to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
Assembling the Dumpling
Place a wonton wrapper on a clean flat wooden board or surface. Dip a brush in cold water and tap it on the side of the bowl to remove excess water from the bristles. Lightly brush the wonton wrapper with water and then drop about a tablespoon of the filling onto the center of a wrapper.
Lift the the edges of the wrapper up, gather them around the filling and twist the top with your fingers to seal. The sides will naturally pleat, leaving the top part of the wrapper and the filling inside. Tap the dumpling on the table so the bottom is flat and it stands upright. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling.
Cooking the Dumplings
Lightly oil the plate of the steamer you are using and stand the dumplings in the steamer in a single layer and don’t let them touch. Bring 1 to 2 inches of water to a boil in a steamer pot. Set the steamer plates inside the pot, then cover it with the lid. Steam for 10 to 12 minutes.