Thursday, September 1, 2011

Sweet Kozhukattai (Modak/ Modagam) - Steamed dumplings with sweetened coconut filling

Today is Vinayaga Chaturthi, the Hindu festival for Lord Ganesha, who is considered superior to all Gods. Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated widely all over India. Kozhukattai or Modak is the main sweet dish made for the festival and offered to God after chanting mantras. It is either steam-cooked or fried. Here is the recipe for the steamed version.

Sweet/ Vella Kozhukattai or Modagam - Steamed

Yield : Makes about 12 modaks


For the outer covering:

Rice flour - 1 cup
Water - 2 cups
Oil - 1 tsp

For the sweet filling (called as  "poornam"):

Jaggery (powdered) - 1/2 cup   

(If you do not get jaggery where you live, you could substitute with brown sugar, altho' the taste will differ slightly, Lord Ganesha will still bless you :)

Coconut (grated) (fresh or frozen)  - 3/4 cup  (I'm blessed to get fresh coconut in Singapore)
Cardamom powder - 1/4 tsp
Ghee - 1 tsp

Method :

Add water to rice flour in the quantities specified and mix them without lumps. Then, stir it together on a kadai on medium flame until it solidifies. Add oil when it starts to become sticky.

Allow it to cool down a bit and then make about 12 balls. Do apply oil to the palm of your hands (every now and then) so that the rice flour paste does not stick to your hands.

Now let's make the poornam.
Melt jaggery in a kadai with very little water.

When it has almost melted and you can see it boiling, add grated coconut and stir well together. Add cardamom powder as well. Switch off the gas, once it comes together and all the water is absorbed.

After this has cooled down a bit, divide this into 12 balls of size smaller than the rice flour balls (bcoz these go inside the rice flour ball).

Flatten a white ball (rice flour ball) in the palm of your hand, keep the poornam/ sweet filling inside and then gently cover it with the white layer. Remove the excess white flour paste.This is an important step in the process of making modak and requires some practice. Make sure there isn't too much empty space between the filling and the outer covering. Also, do not expose the porrnam, else it will leak upon steaming and the shape of the modak may not be maintained! :(

Repeat the same steps for all the 12 modaks.

Take your steamer plate (I use my idli plates), grease with a little oil and then place the modaks carefully.

Steam-cook for about 15 minutes. By then, you can smell the modaks already :)
Modaks, hot and fresh from the steamer

Note : If you're using a pressure-cooker, do not use the whistle.

The modaks are now ready to offer to Lord Ganesha. May the Lord bless us all with happiness, good health and prosperity :)

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