MODAK MANIA

Amrita Prasad
Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Ganeshotsav is incomplete without Modaks. Here are a few innovative recipes to make the sweet more interesting

Modak is one sweet that we can enjoy anytime. But we eagerly wait for Ganeshostsav to feast on this treat. Be it the traditional Ukadichi Modak, made with ukad or rice flour dough and stuffed with coconut and jaggery, or the hugely popular Mawa Modaks, or the newer varieties like Gulab Jamun Modak and so on, the sweets are heavenly. Every year, sweet shops, restaurants and home chefs make delightful variants such as Chocolate Modak, Paan Modak, Mango Modak, Kesar Modak, Dry Fruits Modak etc to enhance the Modak experience. We bring to you a few of them.

SPOILT FOR CHOICE
Mango Sweets on Baner Raod is offering Modaks of all kinds. Raj Choudhary, owner, Mango Sweets, however, says that their Mango Modak is very popular. “We have given the traditional Mawa Modak a mango twist. For this, we have used mango pulp, khoya/ mawa and milk. It does not take very long to prepare it but tastes amazing,” says Choudhary adding that Malai Modak is sold for Rs 520 per kg, and Mango Modak is sold for Rs 560 per kg. 

Other varieties like Chocolate Modak and Cadbury Modak are also available at the sweet shop. While the Chocolate Modak is smaller in size and has a light chocolate colour, Cadbury Modak is bigger with some glazing on top.  Talking about the difference, Choudhary says, “We have used blocks of Cadbury chocolate and milk for the Cadbury Modak which has a more chocolaty taste when compared to Chocolate Modak which has mawa, sweetened condensed milk and cocoa in it. Both these varieties are loved by the young and old.”

MAKE THEM AT HOME
Khandani Rajdhani has introduced Modaks that are as delicious as the traditional ones, but slightly tweaking the recipe. Maharaj Jodharam Choudhary, corporate chef, Khandani Rajdhani, has created Modak varieties such as Chana Dal Modak, Chocolate Modak, Strawberry Modak, Motichur Modak, Coconut Modak, Dry Fruit Modak, Kaju Modak and Kesar Modak. Here are some of the recipes shared by Choudhary that you can try at home and make your Ganeshotsav more delightful and sweet.  

MOTICHUR MODAK
Ingredients
Gram flour….. - 1 bowl
Sugar…. - ..1.5 bowl
Water…. - .1.5 bowl
Vegetable oil… - ...1 tbsp
Cardamom powder… - .1/2 tsp
Pista (chopped)… - .1 tbsp 
Saffron strands… - …...10-15
Vegetable oil or ghee for deep frying  

Method
- Take gram flour in a large size bowl and add half a bowl of water slowly to make thin batter without lumps and add 1 tbsp oil. Beat it for 5-7 minutes with beater to make it fluffy.
- Turn on the gas and add ghee. Heat it on medium flame.
- Hold jhar (a big round spoon with multiple small holes in it) just above the pan and put batter on it with a serving spoon and tap at the edge of the jhar so that small droplets  fall into the oil.
- Fry it for 5-7 minutes on medium flame and take it out in a plate with another jhar to drain extra oil. If possible, put blotting paper on plate to absorb extra oil.
- Put another pan on the gas, add one bowl of water and sugar and stir it for 10-15 minutes on medium flame to make one taar sugar syrup. To check one taar, take one drop of sugar syrup between thumb and index finger and see single taar.
- Add cardamom powder, pista and saffron strands in sugar syrup and turn off the flame. 
- Add Boondi in sugar syrup, properly mix and keep it for 15 minutes.
- Now put Boondi mixture in Modak mould and press it. Take it out.
- If you do not have Modak mould, then shape it with hand. 

DRY FRUITS MODAK
Ingredients
Dates (seeds removed).... - 15
Dried figs.......................... - 10 
Raisins………........... - ¼ cup
Almonds………........ - ¼ cup 
Pistachios……......... - ¼ cup 
Shelled walnuts…… - ..................¼ cup
Desiccated coconut… - .......................¼ cup 
Cardamom pods (seeds crushed into powder) - ...4
Ghee…… - ..................1 tsp

Method
- Finely chop the dates, figs and raisins.
- Also chop the almonds, pistachios and walnuts into tiny bits.
- In a saucepan, dry roast the desiccated coconut till light brown. Transfer to a large bowl and keep aside.
- Dry roast the chopped nuts together till light brown. Add them to the bowl with the coconut and keep aside.
- Heat ghee in the same pan and add chopped dates, figs and raisins and fry continuously for about 5 minutes.
- Switch off the heat and let it cool slightly.
- Grind the cooled dates, figs and raisin mixture till it forms a coarse paste.
- Add this paste to the bowl with the roasted nuts. Mix well till a uniform mass is formed.
- Take lime-sized balls of the mixture and form them into Modak shapes. You can use a modak mould to do this, or shape them by hand. To shape them by hand, make a lime-sized ball first and then, holding the ball in the palm of one hand, use the fingers of your other hand to pull up the top of the ball, thus forming a fig shape.
- Store the Modak in an airtight container.
- These should last at room temperature for about 4-5 days.

A CAKELICIOUS TWIST
Ever heard of Modak with a Cheesecake twist? Kalinga Veg Gourmet Kitchen in Erandwane has come up with this interesting treat. Although it doesn’t look like the traditional Modak nor does it have the quintessential taste, it is a delight for those looking for something new to try this Ganeshotsav. 

Abhishek Shetty, director and owner, Kalinga Veg Gourmet Kitchen, says that the idea behind Modak Cheesecake comes from the current trend of giving a global twist to Indian cuisine. 

“With more and more restaurants serving gourmet cuisine from across the globe, there’s a change of preferences, and patrons are open to experimentation and innovation. We wanted to provide the same experience to our customers and thus the idea of making a Cheesecake-flavoured Modak came into existence,” says Shetty. 

He points out that it not just Kalinga Veg Gourmet Kitchen which is taking a modern approach to Modaks, other restaurants too are tweaking the recipe. “We Indians love our festivals and food is one of the most important elements of our festivities, so why not add more flavour by adding a twist to the recipes,” adds Shetty.  

Made with digestive biscuits, butter, cream cheese, fresh coconut, jaggery, poppy seeds, mawa, ghee, dry fruits, and other ingredients, the Modak Cheesecake is an Indian sweet with a contemporary feel.  

Ingredients
FOR THE CHEESECAKE MIX
Digestive biscuits… - ...250 gm
Butter    - .. 100 gm
Cream cheese… - ….600 gm
Demerara sugar - 100 gm
Icing sugar……. - 100 gm
Double cream…… - ...284 ml
 
FOR THE STUFFING
Fresh coconut (grated)…… - ..1 bowl 
Sugar…… - …...½ bowl
Jaggery……… - ..½ bowl 
Dry fruits as required
Pure ghee… - …...3 tsp 
Kesar, cardamom and nutmeg powder… - …..a pinch
Poppy seeds… - …..1 tsp
Mawa…... - 2 tsp

Method
FOR THE STUFFING
- Heat ghee in a pan, add poppy seeds and sauté for a minute.
- Add grated coconut, sugar, jaggery (broken into small pieces or grated). Cardamom and nutmeg powder and dry fruits. Mix thoroughly.
- Cook till all moisture from the sugar and jaggery begins to dry.
- It takes about 10 to 15 minutes for the mixture to dry on low flame.
- Do not overcook as it will harden and lose its taste.
- Stir every 2 to 3 minutes till it turns golden yellow.
- You can add more ghee if the stuffing becomes too dry.

FOR THE CHEESECAKE MIX
- In a mixing bowl, mix together the biscuit crumbs and Demerara sugar. Add in the melted butter and mix well.
- Spoon the biscuit mixture into a 20 cm springform cake tin, lined with silicon paper or baking parchment. Use a metal spoon to press the biscuit crumbs down firmly and evenly. Chill in the refrigerator until set. 
- In a large mixing bowl, using a whisk or a wooden spoon, beat together the cream cheese, icing sugar and vanilla pod seeds or vanilla extract until well mixed.
- Add the Modak mix into the cheesecake mixture.
- Fold in the double cream, mixing well.
- Spoon the cream mixture over the chilled biscuit base, making sure that there are no air bubbles. Smooth the top of the Modak cheesecake with a palette knife or metal spoon.

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