The day is dry and bright. The people are preparing for an auspicious day. The day Lord Ganesha gives strength to overcome the obstacles in our lives, makes us stronger. The prayers have listened, all mighty Ganesha will lead us along the path of righteousness. All of Mumbai, indeed all of India, is full to bursting with anticipation. This can only mean one thing: Ganapathi Bappa Moria. Ganesh Chaturthi is also known as ‘Vinayaka Chaturthi’ or ‘Vinayaka Chavithi’ is celebrated by Hindus around the world as the birthday of Lord Ganesha. With such a hype, you’d expect gatherings, puja, food, decorations… and you will not be disappointed! The spirit goes on for a whole 10 days. One has to experience the high energy Ganesh Chaturthi for whole 10 days from puja on day 1 till procession on the on the 10th day of Ganesh Chaturthi. It is said that the high spirited Ganesh Chaturthi procession started as early as 1894.
People in India worship Ganesha before starting any new work, opening a new business, joining a new school/college. Preparations for Ganesh Chaturthi starts many days before. People either make Ganesha idol at home or buy a pre-made idol. perform puja for ten days with full devotion and faith. People worship with uttermost devotion. Puja starts at Chaturthi and ends on Anant Chaturdashi. A large-scale procession on day 10 is performed for Visarjan.
Ganesh Chaturthi Food Philosophy
Like most cultural celebrations, food forms a major part of the Vinayaka Chavithi experience. Lord Ganesh is said to be a foodie. His favorites varieties of prasad are modak, kheer, Puran Poli, undrallu, kudumulu, and the list goes on. Foodies wait for mouth-watering food made on Ganesh Chaturthi. They are great family memories. Kids remember the days all their life long. Not just on the day 1, some families make festive food for 10 days. On day 10, on the day of the procession, jumbo-sized laddus. Laddus and rice dishes are distributed before and at the time of procession.
North Indian style modak is deep-fried. Flour dough is rolled and closed with filling, then deep-fried. In south India modak’s are steamed with filling and rice flour on top. Traditionally it is made of jaggery, coconut filling. But a variety of fillings can be made. I make my rice flour at home every year for Ganesh Chaturthi. All of typical south Indian Ganesh Chaturthi sweets are made of rice flour. Rice dough shells come out hard with store-bought rice flour. While making your own rice flour at home, the trick is not dry rice after soaking. The very first time I made, I dried it till not moisture. It couldn’t grind it to a fine powder. It’s ok if your modak’s don’t come out picture perfect. Mine didn’t but taste excellent. Also, the satisfaction of offering all homemade prasad to god and our family is priceless.
This dish is mimicked out of steamed modak natively made for Ganesh Chaturthi in southern parts of India. It is made of fresh rice flour dough, stuffed and steamed. I make my rice flour at home every year for Ganesh Chaturthi. All of typical south Indian Ganesh Chaturthi sweets are made of rice flour. Rice balls come out hard with store-bought rice flour. The trick is not to dry rice after soaking. Then grind.
- For rice flour
- 1 cup rice
- For filling
- 1 cup fresh coconut
- 1 cup brown sugar or ¾th cup jaggery
- ½ tsp ground cardamom
- ½ tsp Cardamom Powder
- 2 tsp Ghee (vegans can use coconut oil)
- One day before: Wash and soak rice for 1-2 hours. Then drain water, and spread on a towel to dry. Dry for 1-2 hours depending on heat. Do not let it dry completely. Rice shouldn't have any dripping water. You should feel slight moisture. This time is perfect to grind.
- Grind rice to flour. Do not store in a tight container. For best results, take a wide baking dish, or plate, spread flour and loosely cover. If stored in a tight container, since it has moisture, fungus will develop in 1-2 days.
- On the day of Ganesh Chaturthi:
- For filling
- Grate fresh coconut. Roast in a pan on low heat for 10 minutes.
- Now add jaggery to coconut. Cook for few minutes Add cardamom and ghee. Make sure consistency is solid. If you see any water, cook till all water evaporates and the mixture is thick.
- For rice dough:
- Take 1 cup of water. Boil in a pot. When boiling, simmer and slowly add rice flour. Make sure of no lumps. Stir and boil for 5-8 minutes with lid closed. When flour absorbs 80% of water, close lid and turn off the stove. Let it cool.
- When cooled, take a small-sized dough. Make balls out of them and press with fingers into flat puri kind of round plates. Dip fingers in ghee if the dough is sticking. Place filling in the middle. Gently close all sides. Make it like a dome shape.
- Place them on idly cooker or in a steaming plate.
- Steam for 5-7 minutes.
- Serve hot.