My brother and sister in law bring Ganeshji home every year. This year it was extra special because their son who is almost a year was part of the celebrations. In fact they brought home a bal swaroop of Ganeshji just for him this year. I love this tradition they have set for our family, it gets everyone together and also gives all our children a chance to be exposed to traditions. My son is already attuned to Ganesh because of the animation film and my two year old daughter loves the color and music that comes with celebration.
This year we have a confluence of East and West for Ganesh Chaturathi. The meal was vegetarian of course, cooked without onions and garlic as is all puja food by our maharaj. I took along some sweet treats. Shobha, my housekeeper is maharashtrian and makes awesome modaks from red rice flour so we made those (unfortunately in white rice flour as we could not get red rice flour). Hers came out far better than mine but there was great convivality in making them together and the kids also got involved. My son to 'help' and the little one mostly to eat the sweet filling. And my son was thrilled to take over some to his friends in the building. It was a little messy but these are the things memories are made off... (And just in case our modaks were a complete disaster, I had planned ahead and ordered a couple of Modak Gelato cakes from Amore to be safe!
Here is a recipe for Shobha's rice flour dumplings that I have perfected for my book on food in Mumbai. She uses red rice flour she gets from her village. However if you cannot get red rice flour you can use normal white rice flour or get red rice from Navdanya ground at your local chakki.
Shobhas Red rice flour dumplings (Ukdiche Modak)
Yield - 6-8 modaks
Time - 30 mins to 1 hour
For red rice flour covering:
½ c red rice flour
½ c water2 tsp ghee
A pinch of Salt
For the stuffing:
1 c fresh coconut, shredded
½ c jaggery, grated
1 tsp cardamom Powder
To make filling:
Heat a pan and add jaggery. When the jaggery starts melting, add 1 tsp of the ghee and the coconut to it. Mix well and cook on medium heat for 5-6 mins. Add the cardamom powder and mix well. Once filling is ready, set aside to cool.
To make the covering:
Boil the ½ cup water, add ghee to it, add rice flour to boiling water and mix well stirring continuously. Add the salt, mix well and cook covered for 2-3 mins. Remove from heat and knead well into a soft dough while it is still hot. Tough as it is, this method is called Ukad and what gives the dish a distinctive flavor, texture and the name!To make modaks:Divide the dough into small balls and roll each into discs the size of small puris. Taking each disc on your palm, place a little filling in it and bring together the edges in pleats like you would for a chinese dumpling. Form a tip and seal by pinching it together. Repeat for the rest of the modaks. Place modaks in a steamer or cooker (without the whistle) and steam for 15-20 mins. Serve hot modaks with Ghee to Ganeshji first and then indulge!