I attempted to make modaks (or steamed rice dumplings with sweetened coconut filling) for the very first time for Vinayagar (elephant god)'s birthday which fell on Sep 5th this year. I am a Muslim who has married a Hindu. I try to follow some of the Hindu festivals to my best ability. Anand, my husband, was specially pleased that I made that effort to make Vinayagar's birthday special this year.
I specially decided to do it with love and dedication and prayed to Vinayagar for guidance and success. Modaks are Vinayagar's favourite sweets thus Hindus all over the world make them as an offering to him. Remember that if you are making Modaks as an offering, refrain from tasting them during the cooking process. It is traditional to serve to Vinayagar first before having your first bite.
Ingredients (for 12-14 modaks)
For the dumplings
1 cup rice flour
1.5 cups water
1 tsp oil
a pinch of salt
For the filling
1 cup fresh grated coconut
3/4 cup grated jaggery
seeds of 3 -4 cardomaoms, pounded coarsely
1 tsp oil
1/2 tsp rice flour in the end (to absorb moisture should the filling still be wet)
1)To make the filling, heat the oil and roast the pounded cardamom seeds.
2) Add the grated jaggery and let it melt in the heat.
3) This will be followed by the grated coconut.
4) Mix well and let it cook till the mixture dries up
5) Let this cool on the side.
6) To make the dumpling, heat the water, oil and salt in a small pot.
7) When the water comes to a rolling ball, add in the rice flour and quickly mix till it forms a lump. Cover and remove from heat.
8) Let it cool for 5 mins.
To make the modaks, follow these steps...
9) After 5 mins, knead the dough and roll into 14 balls. Be careful as the dough will still be hot.
10) Then, flatten each ball into a hollow disc. Put in the filling and start pinching at the sides till 6 grooves are formed.
11) Join these grooves at the top. Make all the other balls the same way. Do note that the rice dough will be sticky. Either oil your fingers or use rice flour to coat your fingers. My mom has heard that adding a bit of milk to the dough helps.
12) Steam the modaks for 12-15 mins. In the meantime, make the kolam (floor designs using rice flour) outside your front door.
13) Serve the modaks to Vinayagar.