Modak and more: Food to please the Vighnaharta
Call him Lord Ganesha or call him Modakapriya (the one who relishes modak), the God of all things auspicious is also known for his love for food. And hence, Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations are never complete without a scrumptious spread. As the country gears up for the festival on September 10, we take a look at all the dishes that make it a foodie’s delight.
From modaks to laddoos, devotees of the pot-bellied, elephant-headed, one-tusked God prepare various kinds of sweets as a part of the festivities. “During the prayer, 21 or 101 modaks are offered to Lord Ganesha and the same is then distributed as prasad. Modak is a sweet steamed dumpling prepared with rice flour and filled with jaggery and fresh grated coconut. It is often flavoured with green cardamom and nutmeg powder, and served hot drizzled with melted pure ghee. The steamed version is known as ukadiche modak. This is the traditional way,” says Mumbai-based chef Reetu Uday Kugaji. Other varieties of the modak include flavours such as chocolate, cranberry, coconut, baked orange, boondi modak and much more.
However, there is more to the festival than just modaks. “The utterly crispy, spicy multigrain pancake, thalipeeth is a must-try during the festival. The main ingredients of it are chana daal, urad daal, wheat, and rice. One can also enjoy these toothsome pancakes with ghee, butter, pickle or curd,” says chef Santosh Rawat, executive pastry chef JW Marriott Mumbai Sahar. And the list goes on. Rawat continues, “Some of the other sweets made and served include puran poli, which is a flat bread made of refined flour stuffed with sweet lentils and jaggery. Another one is the motichoor laddoo, a delicious melt-in-the-mouth laddoo made with gram flour, sugar, and spices. Amrakhand, made using yogurt and mango puree, is a refreshing variation of the classic shrikhand.” The hotel has curated a decadent box of modaks handcrafted in six flavours such as kesar mawa, rose kalakand, dark chocolate, and slivered pistachio.
The feast might be lavish but the ingredients used to prepare it are often simple. Rice, puffed rice, rice flour, semolina, whole-wheat flour, Bengal-gram flour, jaggery, saffron, green cardamom, chana daal, and banana are the usual elements.
While the food is sattvic in most Maharashtrian homes, there are some sections, who offer non-veg dishes. “For the Kolis and in parts of Ratnagiri, naivedyam is fish. Some parts of Malwan present a naivedyam of non-veg delicacies, especially for Goddess Gauri. It is an interesting tradition. Day two of the celebration is Rishi Panchami for which Rishi Chi bhaji is made. It consists of vegetables grown without any involvement of cattle in the farming process. I make this every year and send it to friends as it is a rare and seasonal mélange of vegetables, which is fading out,” says chef Varun Inamdar, who serves a complete Maharashtrian fare at The Heritage Street.
Recipe of Shrikhand
Preparation Time: 10 minutesChilling Time in Refrigerator- 1 ½ hoursServes: 04 .
Ingredients and Quantity:
Hung Curds- 1 ½ cupPowdered Sugar, sifted- 1/4th cupMilk – 01 tbspChironji seeds, blanched- 02 tspGreen cardamom powder- 1/4 th tspSaffron steeped in a little warm milk- a few strands
For Garnish:Saffron strands- 1/4th gmAlmonds, blanched, peeled and slivered / Almond flakes-10 gmPistachio nuts, blanched, peeled and slivered – 10 gmRose petals (dried & edible): 01 tsp (Optional)Pepitas, lightly toasted- 1 tspMuskmelon seeds, lightly toasted-1 tsp
Method:In a food processor, add Hung curds and sugarBlend it for 30 secondsAdd milk to adjust consistencyRemove in a glass bowl add green cardamom powder, charoli seeds, saffron steeped in warm milk and mix wellChill the shrikhand in the refrigerator for 1 ½ hourServe chilled garnished with slivered almonds, pistachio nuts , dried edible rose petals and saffron strands.
Recipe by chef Reetu Uday Kugaji