These sweet delights 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 by those who have attended the event. This is a favourite in our house during these celebrations aswell 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! 🙂 Ganesha is also my personal favourite Hindu deity, bearing the head of my most favourite animal; the elephant. There is something about this Deity that, for me, brings hope and helps me get through difficult times. I can’t really describe in words how or why Ganesha makes me feel this way – he just does – and I am always drawn to anything related to Ganesha or elephants. 🙂
This year, the celebrations of Ganesh Chaturthi falls on Friday 29th August. I hope to go to India one day and witness this amazing festival that brings family and friends together.
For those who are not familiar with this snack, it’s basically like a steamed dumpling with a sweet or savoury filling. I like both recipes but have written the sweet version here. 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. I am not keen on the bigger sizes of Modakam as I tend to be a bit clumsy and the filling just falls out everywhere when I bite into it! So I usually choose to make the bite-size versions. Find the recipe here.