Happy Ganesh Chaturthi and a happy welcome to the ‘Vighnaharta’ – the harbinger of troubles; the ‘Vinayaka’ – the god of wisdom. This pot-bellied-single-tusked God of new beginnings is perhaps the most recognisable of Hindu deities as well as one of the most loved. Today marks the start of a 10-day festival when people install Ganesh idols for public display as well as smaller ones at home. The festival culminates in processions of Ganesh idols through the streets to be immersed in water, typically a local river. The processions are colourful, noisy and a little chaotic (in a good way!) and these days greater care is taken to ensure that idols are made from eco-friendly materials so that we can worship without polluting the rivers. Modern eco-friendly idols simply dissolve in water.
We celebrate by following the traditions at home and enjoying the sweet and savoury treats that go with them like this kaju-khirapat modak I prepared using cashew flour, coconut and icing sugar, a treat that this sweet-toothed God loves! I also like to make chocolate modak for Ganpati. It’s just my way of cajoling him to remove our obstacles this year too!
Enjoy these modaks alongside the calming and invigorating persona of the deity that is Lord Ganapati.
Cashew Coconut Modak / Kaju Khirapat Modak / काजू खिरापत मोदकCourse: Dessert, SnacksCuisine: Maharashtrian, IndianDifficulty: Medium
110g or 1 cup ground and sifted cashew nut powder
1 tbsp ghee
75g or 1 cup milk powder
250ml or 1 cup whole milk
a pinch of saffron
½ tsp cardamom powder
185g (1 cup) caster sugar
- For the filling:
35g dry coconut (grated)
2 heaped tbsp icing sugar
- Equipment needed:
For the filling:
- Gently toast the coconut without any oil or ghee until light brown and crisp. Once off the heat, add a tablespoon of icing sugar and mix well so that the coconut is evenly coated. Set aside to cool.
- For the modak dough:
- Over a medium flame, roast the ground cashew nut powder for a minute. Add the ghee. Mix well and continue roasting for another minute.
- Tip in the milk powder and mix. Add the milk a little at a time to break the lumps until a smooth semi-solid paste is formed. Add the saffron and cardamom powder.
- Turn the flame up a little and continue stirring until a free-moving clump is formed. Add the caster sugar.
- As the clump turns runny, continue stirring for 5-6 minutes over a low flame. Once the entire mass comes together in a clump again turn off the flame. Allow to cool to room temperature.
- Grease the inside of the modak mould with ghee, making sure every groove is covered.
- Take a small lime-sized ball of dough and stuff it tightly into the mould ensuring all the grooves are tightly filled.
- At this point, make a hole with your index finger inside the stuffed modak mould and fill it with the coconut-icing sugar mixture using a tiny measuring spoon. Close the hole with some more of the ground cashew dough, remove the excess and press it down so that the filling doesn’t leak out. Finally, gently open the mould, transfer the modaks onto a plate and enjoy!
- I have deliberately kept the filling minimalistic and simple rather than a full-blown ‘khirapat’, which includes poppy seeds and raisins too. Feel free to include them if you wish.
- You can try this recipe with freshly grated coconut or even desiccated coconut if you like.
- The coconut filling is optional. You can make simple chocolate modaks without it. But I’d highly recommend adding the filling.
- Please use only whole milk powder (and not semi-skimmed).
- Grease the modak mould properly and tightly stuff the dough into the mould to get neatly formed modaks.
- Feel free to scatter some crushed dried rose petals into the modak mould before stuffing it with the dough and you’ll have rose-scented cashew coconut modaks.