These sweet delights (vegan and gluten free!) are a typical offering made in Hindu households to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi/Vinayaka Chaturthi. They are known as ‘Modak’ in North India and ‘Modakkam’ or ‘Kozhukattai’ in South India and Sri Lanka. They are usually offered to Ganesha (the Hindu God who is said to help remove all obstacles and difficulties), before a Pooja and then eaten afterwards. This is a favourite in our house during these celebrations as well at other occasions and have to be strategically made in secret so that members of the household don’t eat all the sweet pooranam before you have a chance to make the Modakam’s! 🙂
Although you can use soft brown sugar in this recipe, I prefer using Jaggery/Gur (unrefined cane sugar) as it gives a different taste and texture to the Modakams. Jaggery can be found in many Asian stores in Western countries nowadays, or online, so it’s worth getting it if you can. It can be kept for a long time if you keep it in an airtight container.
In Sri Lanka they often use red rice flour, which is not only healthier, but gives a great taste too. You can mix 1 cup of red rice to 1 tablespoon of steamed plain flour and then follow the same method below.
Makes about 14 small Modakam’s
What you need:
For the dough:
- Rice flour/Idiyappam flour – 1 cup
- Water- 1 1/4 cup
- Sesame oil – 1 teaspoon
- Salt – a pinch
For the filling/”pooranam”:
- Grated Coconut – 3/4 cup
- Jaggery/Very soft brown molasses sugar – 1/2 cup
- 2 cardomum pods (approx. 1/2 tsp) – ground to a powder
How to make it:
1. To a large, non-stick, pan add the water and oil and bring to a boil. Then on a low flame, add the flour and salt and stir continuously until well combined and all lumps have disappeared. Ensuring there are no lumps is very important as otherwise your final product will also have lumps – not pleasant to eat at all.
2. Take the pan off the heat and let it cool until you can handle it with your hands. Then roll into a smooth dough and cover in bowl with a damp cloth.
3. To make the filling/Pooranam: add the coconut, jaggery/sugar and ghee in a pan on a low flame. Stir until well combined and the jaggery/sugar has dissolved and combined with the coconut (about 5 minutes). Add the cardamom powder and mix again and then take off the heat and let it cool until you can handle it with your hands.
MKA Tip: If you feel like the mixture is not thick enough at this point and giving out a little too much liquid, then sprinkle some rice flour and mix well until thickened.
4. Make the pooranam into small ball, about the size of a small lime, and keep aside on a large plate.
5. Make the dough into the same sized balls as the pooranam. You should have the same number of pooranam and dough balls.
6. Take one of the dough balls and then with your fingers make a cup with it, ensuring the width is as thin as possible without falling apart. Practice makes perfect with this part! I think mine are still not satisfactory 😦
7. Add a ball of the pooranam into the dough cup and then close up the dough cup into a ‘modak’ shape as shown in the picture below. Do the same for the rest of the dough balls and pooranam balls.
9. Let the modakam’s cool (or otherwise they may crack), and then they are ready!