Indian mythology is replete with stories, some inspiring, some motivating and some that just tell you a tale of bravery, honesty, patience, dedication, intelligence and numerous other virtues. It is hard to tell whether these stories are based on element of truth or they are just figment of someone’s imagination but they have existed for years and years and would continue to do so because they help us learn these core values and improve as a human race.
This time of the year, we celebrate the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi, which is believed to be the day on which Lord Ganesh was born. There are many stories that I have heard and read about Ganesh which are worth sharing in this blog. This week, as we will welcome Ganeshji in our homes, I thought this gives me a unique opportunity to share with every one of you the recipe of Modak and some short stories that I have grown up listening to.
Ganeshji is also known as Vinayaka (he who was conceived without a man). The tale of his birth itself is unique. As per Shiva Purana, Parvati tried to convince Shiva for a child. However, Shiva being an ascetic was not in favor of taking up responsibility of a child and refuses her. However, she being a form of Shakti, created one on her own. She rubbed herself with a mixture of Oil and turmeric and when it dried, scraped it out and molded Vinayaka using this. Ganesh was beheaded by Shiva, on being denied an entry in cave, as Ganesh was not familiar with his mother’s consort. When Parvati found out that her dear son has been beheaded, she was enraged and took one of the most dangerous forms that threatened to destroy this cosmos. In a bid to pacify her, Shiva brought Ganesh back to his life, however with a different appearance, with a head of an elephant, but blessed him to be the Ganpati (lord of his ganas-followers) and a god who will be prayed first in any religious ceremonies or poojas.
Everyone is charmed by Ganesh’s appearance and hence is the most loved god. His pot-belly is a center of attraction, and would one leave one wondering why he is portrayed with such a large belly (lambodara). His belly indicates the vastness of universe and would encompass everything good or bad. We all also know about Ganeshji’s fondness for Modak. Modak represents the reward in our life. It is in form of a triangle, with a small tip and large base. Modaks are a kind of dumplings in shape of triangle stuffed with a sweet filling. There are many interpretations and explanations for shape of Modak. It is said that Modak indicates how one should try to attain knowledge. The right way would be to start from the tip and make small inroads before we reach the base and have to dig deep. It would be imprudent, if one starts right at the base and ruins the experience.
There are many stories associated with Modak which need to be told. According to one of the stories, once some sages brought a divine Modak and presented them to Shiva-Parvati. This was no ordinary Modak but one that gave knowledge. Parvati wanted to distribute this Modak equally amongst her sons, younger one Ganesh and elder Karthikeya. However her sons were not ready to share and they wanted to have it alone. Parvati then decides to have a competition, they had to complete the journey of the 3 worlds (earth, heaven and underworld) and one who wins would get the reward of Modak. Karthikeya immediately rides on his peacock and is quickly on his way. Ganesh however folded his hands and went round his parents 3 times. On being asked, he said that his parents means world to him and he sees no necessity of going around the world when they were there. This impressed Shiva and Parvati so much that they rewarded him with Modak of knowledge.
Modak is derived from Sanskrit word moda which means happiness, and Modak means something that brings happiness. It is made with rice flour steamed and kneaded into soft dough. Modaks are stuffed with a sweet filling also known as Saran in Maharashtra of Jaggery, grated fresh coconut, white sesame seeds, poppy seeds and cardamom powder. These stuffed dumplings are then steamed until it gets cooked. Modaks attain great significance during the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi. Making them requires great deal of patience, as one has to be watchful for the right amount of water that must be added for steaming the rice. After filling them, they are folded and sealed and steamed again. The folding and sealing needs to be done very carefully and it takes fair amount of practice before one can master it and do it effortlessly.
Ganeshji is offered Naivedya (offering) of 21 Modaks. This brings me to the last story which tells us why 21 Modaks are offered. Shiva, Parvati and Ganesh were invited for dinner by Anasuya, wife of sage Atri. Shiva was very hungry. Anasuya however insisted that she would serve Ganesh first and only when he is content, she would offer food to Shiva. Ganeshji was eating food items one after the other and Shiva had to wait for him until he gets full. On realizing that Shiva would have to wait longer, if Ganesh does not feel satisfied, Anasuya served him a sweet. Surprisingly, Ganesh on having Modak burped which meant he was full. At the same time Shiva also burped not one but 21 burps! This simple story tells us why we offer Ganpati 21 Modaks.
Follow this recipe and make Ukadiche Modak at your home and make an offering of 21 Modaks for Lord Ganesh. May the arrival of Ganpati bring in prosperity and happiness in your life and fulfill all your wishes. Share your feedback with us in comment section below.
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Serves: 15 modaks
- 1 cup Rice Flour (texture should be fine and smooth)
- 200 gram grated coconut (fresh)
- 1 tbsp white sesame seeds
- 2 tbsp poppy seeds
- 2 tsp cardamom powder
- clarified butter (desi ghee)
- 175 grams jaggery (should be a regular not a chikki jaggery)
- 1 cup water. Ratio of rice flour and water must be 1:1. So use the same cup for measuring rice flour and water to get the smooth dough
- Now lets make dough, also known as Modakachi Ukad.Allow water to simmer in a large vessel.
- When water begins to boil, lower the flame and add rice flour.
- Mix the rice flour nicely.
- Turn off the flame and cover the dough (ukad) with a tight lid.
- Lets now make sweet filling also known as Modakacha Saaran. Take 1 tbsp clarified butter in a pan.Add jaggery. Allow jaggery to melt completely until we do not see any lumps.
- In 5-7 mins jaggery melts completely.
- Now add grated fresh coconut,poppy seeds and white sesame seeds.
- Now mix all the ingredients nicely and cook until we get rid of extra moisture.
- In about 3 mins, Saaran gets nicely done, and there should not be extra moisture.
- Now add cardamom powder. Mix it nicely. Turn off the flame and allow Saaran to cool down.
- When rice mixture is only slightly warm, start kneading it into a soft dough.
- Apply some ghee in your palms before kneading and do not make use of water for kneading.
- Modak dough (Ukad) and filling (saaran) are ready.
- Keep some ghee and water while making the dumplings (modak).
- Apply little ghee on your palms. Take a small portion from the dough.
- Knead this portion again to make it smooth and make it in a shape of a ball.
- Hold the ball in one of your palms. Dip thumb of other hand in water. Press the ball gently with your thumb to make a cavity.
- Now keep moving the ball and gently press its sides and give it a shape of a bowl. Dip your fingers in water for moisture.
- Hold the bowl shaped rice in your palm.Dip first two fingers in water.
- Press the sides gently between two fingers and give it shape of petal.
- Now we should have a cavity formation in between.
- Fill this cavity with filling(saaran). Do not over stuff it as we have to seal the edges.
- Bring in the petals together.
- Now with petals brought in together, seal the cavity. Keep it in a plate. Grease the plate with some ghee.
- Follow the steps for remaining Modaks.
- Take some water in a steamer. Amount of water you put in the steamer will depend upon the plate that you put inside the steamer.The plate should be above the level of water and water should never be in direct contact with plate
- Allow the water in steamer to boil.
- Plate that we use for steaming must have pores for the steaming process. Grease the plate with ghee.Arrange Modaks on this plate. Keep some distance between two Modaks.
- When water inside the steamer boils, lower the plate with modak in the steamer.
- Steam the Modaks for 10-12 mins covered on low to medium flame.
- In 12 mins Modak should be ready.Turn off the flame and prepare for serving.
- Modak is best enjoyed when it is warm with some ghee on top of it.
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