What is a Modak?

Ghee, which is served with a spoon over modak.

A modak is a kind of sweet dumpling. It originates from India, from the state of Maharashtra. It is served during Ganesh Chaturthi, a holiday dedicated to the god Ganesh. The main ingredients in a modak dumpling usually include coconut and brown sugar, a type of sugar. Modaks are considered vegetarian food, though not vegan, as they often contain butter.

The sweet Modak dumpling originates from the Indian state of Maharashtra.

Cooking a modak starts with a filling of fresh coconut and brown sugar, cane sugar that was developed in India. It is a concentrated form of sugarcane liquid, containing molasses and hard crystals. To add it to the dish, the brown sugar will need to be scraped off a large, hard block.

While these are usually the two main ingredients of this candy, the filling can also contain other components. Some examples include raisins, chopped cashews or clarified butter. Spices like cardamom can also be added. Some modaks are even stuffed mostly with cucumber, fruit or moong dal, a kind of bean.

Modak usually includes chopped cashews.

After the filling is created, it is placed in a dough circle made from rice flour. The sides of the dough are joined at one end, which gives the modak dumpling its characteristic decorative shape. They look a bit like tightly closed flower buds.

Modaks can be prepared in two different ways. Sometimes they are fried, other times they are boiled in hot water. The boiled version is usually eaten hot with ghee, a type of clarified butter, placed on top of it. The steamed version should be eaten right away, while the fried dumplings can be kept for a few days. When cooked properly, modaks should be very delicate and tender.

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Rice with curd is another traditional Indian dessert.

The Indian god Ganesh is associated with new beginnings and intellectual pursuits. He is easily recognizable by his elephant head and large belly and is said to have a sweet tooth. Modak’s dumplings are said to be his particular favorite, and some icons show him with a plate of the treat nearby.

During Ganesh Chaturthi, a festival dedicated to this god, modak will be placed before icons of Ganesh as an offering. Typically, 21 to 108 modaks will be offered by a single family or group. Without the modak dumplings, the ceremonies surrounding the care of the icon during the ten days of the festival are not considered complete.

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