Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Modakams (Kozhakatta) for modern times

I've always thought of Ganesha as the with-it God -- like the hip older relative who enjoys the latest blogs and youtube clips. A sense of Ganesh as friend, guide and general obstacle-destroyer guides the common Hindu sensibility. Of course, it's always been a little problematic for me to explain the whole dad-chopping-off head element of the story to the kids. I'll wait a couple of decades before having a happy chat about the contrast with the other famous acrimonious father-dad pairing of Oedipus and Laius.

Legend has it that Ganesha loved the sweet, round sweet called the moda, modakam or kozhakatta (I guess the literal translation of that word is basically, hand-molded clump!) Today is Ganesha chaturthi or Vinayaka chaturthi, considered his birthday. One celebrates by making modakams and praying to him in the morning. It was nice that it was the first day of school for the kids too - and I hoped that Ganesha's blessings went with them. A great modakam would require all kinds of grinding and stirring thick mixes. D and I took the easier route - and above are some of our modakams (the little one with some of the filling showing is D's!). Here's our recipe.

Modakan or Kozhakatta
Ingredients:
One cup rice powder
Two tablespoons rava
Three-fourths cup of water
One cup shredded coconut for the filling, half cup coconut for the outer shell
Two teaspoons brown sugar (optional)
One cinnamon stick and a teaspoon of cardomom seeds
2 teaspoons ghee (optional)
  • Prepare the filling: you can choose to go with the low-fat approach and just use the cup of coconut as is for a slightly less sweet end-product. I added brown sugar to give the filling some color and sweetness. I also cooked the mix in some ghee to give it some pliability. I had started heating the ghee over a low flame, and tossed in the spices to give it some flavor, fished out the spices once they started sputtering, then put the coconut mix in and tossed it till golden.
  • Set the filling aside
  • Bring the water to a boil. Then in a mixer, add the rice flour, rava, half cup of coconut, a pinch of salt, then slowly add in the hot water and blend the mixture. D loves to manage the buttons of the mixer, pressing blend then stop as we go through the steps. It's real team work!
  • Take the mix out, let cool
  • Coat your palm with ghee or flour. Pat about two tablespoons of the mix into a thick layer, then scoop in a tablespoon of the filling in. D did a great job of creating perfectly flat layers of dough on her little palms
  • Slowly start folding in the dough, until you have a dumpling
  • Make sure to clean your palms between modakams, or you'll have a sticky mess to content with. D was great about reminding me to clean up each time (have a wet napkin or dish-cloth handy, and the ghee or flour set up for easy reach for your child and you)
  • Steam the modakam for 15 minutes, and voila, you have Ganesha's prasadam AND
    a tasty treat that the kids will devour

2 comments:

Kamini said...

I LOVE kozhakattais, but have never worked up the nerve to try and make them. Your recipe sounds simple enough, I will certainly give it a try!
Kamini.

bhavani G said...

No matter HOW I try.. I can not make them like my grandmother or aunts!!