Ganesh Chaturthi is high spirit and enthusiastic celebration. Preparations start days before the festival. Preparations to make ganesh idol to buying new clothes and planning for food etc. Ganesh Chaturthi also known as ‘Vinayaka Chaturthi’ or ‘Vinayaka Chavithi’ is celebrated by Hindus around the world as the birthday of Lord Ganesha. It is celebrated on 4th day of Hindu lunar calendar month of Bhadrapada maasa. Which is usually in mid-August to mid-September. Ganesh chaturthi is also festival of food. Foodies like me wait every year for mouth-watering prasad. Lord Ganesh is said to be foodie. Many varieties of prasad as modak, kheer, puran poli, undrallu, kudumulu etc are made and offered to him.
Pumpkin season is right around the corner here in United States. Perfect time for Ganesh Chaturthi prasad. Why not take advantage this season? Pumpkins are actually very healthy! They are low in calories, fat and sodium, and rich in vitamin A, potassium and fiber! Pumpkins may not be available in every region. You can certainly substitute pumpkin with sweet potato. Follow same cooking instruction. But cooking time may vary. This dish can certainly made vegan. Replace ghee with coconut or avocado oil. If pumpkins are not available, you can certainly substitute pumpkin with sweet potato.
North Indian way of 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 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, trick is not dry rice after soaking. Very first time I made, I dried it till not moisture. It couldn’t grind it to 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 price-less.
Pumpkin is an inexpensive source of vitamins and fiber. But pumpkin is huge. Can you use up whole pumpkin? Not. You can cook pumpkin and freeze to use all year round. It is not just great for lentils, soups and stews as well as a good addition to baking.
I hope this dish brings you high spirit to you and your family to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi.
- For rice flour
- 1 cup rice
- For gravy
- ½ cup cooked pumpkin or sweet potato
- ½ cup coconut
- ½ tsp ground cardamom
- ¼ to ½ cup Powdered Jaggery
- ½ tsp Cardamom Powder
- 1 tsp Ghee (vegans can use coconut oil)
- One to three days before: Wash and soak rice for 1-2 hours. Then drain water, and spread on 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 tight container. For best results, take wide baking dish, or plate, spread flour and loosely cover. If stored in tight container, since it has moisture, fungus will develop in 1-2 days.
- On the day of ganesh chaturthi
- For filling
- Add water to a pot or pressure cooker. Cook pumpkin or sweet potato. Do not over-cook. Keep pricking with toothpick or fork. When it is soft, Turn off stove. When overcooked, filling is not hard enough to keep modak intact. Let it cool.
- Remove pumpkin skin.
- Add jaggery to a pan. When it melts, add coconut. Stir. Cook 2-3 minutes or sides leave pan. Add pumpkin, gently mash in jaggery and coconut. Add cardamom and ghee.
- 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 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 dough is sticking. Place filling in the middle. Gently close all sides.
- Place them on idly cooker or in a steaming plate.
- Steam for 5-7 minutes.
- Serve hot.