My Citizens! Today is day 2 of an 11-day festival in India, celebrated by devout Hindus throughout the world in honor of Lord Ganesha, the Elephant God! The Suzerain of Sweets – YOUR TFD! – has two key similarities to this most friendly and wise of Gods – we both LOVE sweets and we both are wise beyond measure! Today, I will teach you how to make Ganesha’s favorite dessert: modak! 🙂
To all Hindus celebrating these holy days – श्री वक्रतुण्ड महाकाय सूर्य कोटी समप्रभा निर्विघ्नं कुरु मे देव सर्व-कार्येशु सर्वदा॥!
As noted on britannica.com:
Ganesh Chaturthi, in Hinduism, 10-day festival marking the birth of the elephant-headed deity Ganesha, the god of prosperity and wisdom.
It begins on the fourth day (chaturthi) of the month of Bhadrapada (August–September), the sixth month of the Hindu calendar.
At the start of the festival, idols of Ganesha are placed on raised platforms in homes or in elaborately decorated outdoor tents. The worship begins with the pranapratishtha, a ritual to invoke life in the idols, followed by shhodashopachara, or the 16 ways of paying tribute.
Amid the chanting of Vedic hymns from religious texts like the Ganesh Upanishad, the idols are anointed with red sandalwood paste and yellow and red flowers. Ganesha is also offered coconut, jaggery, and 21 modaks (sweet dumplings), considered to be Ganesha’s favourite food.
At the conclusion of the festival, the idols are carried to local rivers in huge processions accompanied by drumbeats, devotional singing, and dancing. There they are immersed, a ritual symbolizing Ganesha’s homeward journey to Mount Kailas—the abode of his parents, Shiva and Parvati.
Ganesh Chaturthi assumed the nature of a gala public celebration when the Maratha ruler Shivaji (c. 1630–80) used it to encourage nationalist sentiment among his subjects, who were fighting the Mughals.
In 1893, when the British banned political assemblies, the festival was revived by the Indian nationalist leader Bal Gangadhar Tilak. Today the festival is celebrated in Hindu communities worldwide and is particularly popular in Maharashtra and parts of western India.
As for modak themselves, all I can say is I understand why they are so popular! The sweet filling on the inside of a modak consists of freshly grated coconut and jaggery (Indian cane sugar) while the outer soft shell is made from rice flour.
The steamed version (called ukdiche modak) is often eaten hot with ghee. These modaks at their most basic are made of coconut and Sugar/Jaggery. This variation is especially prepared during the time of Ganesh Festival. They are handmade and cooked in a steamer. They are perishable and need to be consumed immediately.
For Ganesha, his love for modak have given him the moniker ‘modakapriya’ (one who likes modak) in Sanskrit.
Citizens, my version of modak (not to be confused at all with the far less enjoyable MODOK) are quite classic with one heretical change – I include a few drops of rosewater to add to the flavor and aroma of these sweets. By all means leave it out if you prefer the classic version that will satisfy the sweetest of teeth! My preferred brand of rosewater is this.
Citizens, you don’t have to be a Hindu to enjoy these delicious treats any time of year – please consider them as a delicious new treat for you and yours! I especially enjoy them after a delicious meal of palak paneer.
Battle on – the Generalissimo