Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Fried Modhakams for Ganesh Chathurthi

Food and festivals are part of Indian tradition. Every festival has its own special dish that would be cooked, offered to the Gods and consumed. While the lunch menu by itself is more elaborate, the neivedhyams, the offerings are extra and unique to each festival. Ganesh Chathurthi is just about few days to go.
This festival is celebrated all over the country with much fervour. As part of offering  for Ganesha, modhakam, a sweet dish made of rice flour with sweetened coconut filling is something every household makes. This deep fried version, that I have here, is also quite delicious. It is convenient too for they can be made ahead and stored.
With the children away from home, the festivals are low key affair. Cooking big meals for just two  seems pointless. This is the case with me and my sisters.This year both of my sisters have other commitments. They have to plan something simple, yet not stray from tradition. My mother suggested the fried modhakams for neivedhyam along with some fruits. I thought it would be a great idea for my daughter. She is yet to learn celebrating festivals on her own. It would be better to start with simpler stuff.
During the first few years of my marriage, my mother would write long letters that will give detailed procedures to conduct a festival in its spirit. She would write recipes also, even though I had  cookbooks to guide. However many books I may have had, I would, follow her directions and recipes. I am trying to do the same with my daughter. The other day she had asked me to keep myself available on the day before the festival, to guide her through.This post is one such that gives her a recipe to make and offer.

Fried Modhakams:
Makes 15 medium sized modhakams.

For the covering dough:
1/3 cups all purpose flour/ maida
1/4 cup semolina/rawa (I use a fine variety one, but regular Bombay Rawa works well too)
A small pinch of salt
1 teaspoon coconut oil

For the Coconut poornam filling:
1 cup packed freshly grated coconut
2/3 cup packed powdered jaggery
pods from 5 whole cardamoms crushed

Oil for deep frying

Making the Coconut poornam
Take the powdered jaggery on a heavy bottom pan. Add 1/3 cup of water to it and place the pan on heat.
When the jaggery has just about dissolved, strain it through a wire mesh strainer to remove impurities.
Clean the pan and transfer the jaggery solution back to it. Place this on the stove and boil the jaggery down to a soft ball syrup.
At this point the solution will be bubbling all over with a few large bubbles here and there. If you take a little of the solution and tilt the ladle from a short height, thick syrup will flow off the ladle.
Add the coconut to the syrup.
Stir it in to blend with the syrup. In about 5 -7 minutes, the poornam will thicken with a light hiss.
Stir in the powdered cardamom and toss around for about 2 minutes longer.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
When the poornam has cooled enough, you may be able to gather it in a ball and it will be sticky to feel.
The poornam can be made ahead and stored.

Making the dough:
Take the coconut oil in a container and place it in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. It will obtain a semi solid texture like ghee.
In a bowl, add the maida, rawa and salt and whisk to mix them well.
Take the coconut oil from the refrigerator and with light strokes of the tips of your fingers, rub it into the flour mix. Allow it to mix thoroughly.
Add sufficient water to the above mix and make a slightly stiff dough.
Cover and keep aside for about twenty minutes.
Knead the dough well to make it pliable. I drop the dough in the jar of my Indian mixer-grinder and run it for a good minute to make it pliable. if you are making more in quantity, you might use the processor or the kneading hooks fitted to the hand mixer.

Shaping and frying the modhakams:
Divide the dough in 15 portions.Roll each in a ball and place it in the bowl covered while working on one portion.
Roll out the small balls in circular discs. Keep the rolled out discs covered too.
Once all the dough has been rolled out, place about two teaspoons of the filling in the centre of each disc.
Using a cotton bud, brush a little water along the edges of the dough.
Gather the edges in a pleated manner towards the top, covering the filling completely. Pinch the dough tightly closed at the top.
Work on all of the dough in the same manner.
Meanwhile, place the oil in a frying pan and put it on heat.
When the oil is hot, gently slide the shaped modhakams into it in small batches and deep fry until well fried,
Remove with a slotted lalde draining the oil and place on kitchen tissues if needed.
Allow to come to room temperatue and store in airtight containers.

These keep well for about four to five days. They will be crisp on the first day and the next, after which they may be a bit softer, not saggy or chewy yet.

These are offered to Ganapathy on many occasions, not just on this festival. they also make for a good sweet snack.

1 comment:

  1. I have always made the steamed one. But this is interesting. Might just give it a try. Will let you know if I do for sure


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