Fresh sweet potato crop comes in fall, though they are available throughout the year. Perfect time for Ganesh Chaturthi, navarathri and Diwali. Sweet potatoes are rich source of vitamin A, several other essential nutrients including vitamins B-6, C, E, K, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, folate and pantothenic acid, as well as many minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium. This dish has no milk. Ghee can be substituted with coconut oil or other flavored oils. That makes it a perfect vegan dish.
Ganesh chaturthi is also festival of food. Lord Ganesh is said to be foodie. His favorites varieties of prasad are modak, kheer, puran poli, undrallu, kudumulu and list goes on. Foodies wait for mouth-watering food made of grated jaggery, coconuts and dry fruits.
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 10-day-long festival every year. It is the most popular festival of Maharashtra. It is said Ganesh Chaturthi was started by Chhatrapati Shivaji and It is been celebrated since the days of Maratha rulers: Satavahana, Chalukya and Rashtrakuta. Now it is mainly celebrated in southern states of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh. Among them, Maharashtra is the state known for high scale celebrations.
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.
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. Trick is not to dry rice after soaking. Then grind.
- For rice flour
- 1 cup rice
- For gravy
- ½ cup sweet potato
- ½ cup coconut (optional)
- ½ cup powdered cashews
- 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 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 and mash.
- Remove sweet potato skin.
- Add jaggery to a pan. When it melts, add coconut. Stir. Cook 2-3 minutes or sides leave pan. Add mashed sweet potato, gently mash in jaggery, cashew powder and coconut (if adding coconut). Add cardamom and ghee. Make sure consistency is solid. If you see any water, cook till all water evaporates and 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 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.