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Thursday, Sep 19, 2019

Mumbaiwale: Ganpati treats after you’ve finished the modaks

As Ganesha descends upon Mumbai, a quick look at the festive foods you’re likely to see

mumbai Updated: Sep 02, 2019 06:37 IST
Rachel Lopez
Rachel Lopez
Hindustan Times
Picture for representation only.
Picture for representation only.(HT PHOTO)

One Ganesh Chaturthi three years ago, a colleague, Kartick Jagtap, happened to text me: On a scale of 9 to 10, how much do you like modaks?

I love that he didn’t even recognise the low end of the ruler. The ones Kartick got me, made by his mum in Pune, scored way past 10, and are a good explanation for why Ganesh is depicted with a potbelly.

There’s so muchaav food at the 11-day festival. And modaks are only one part of it. Here are some other treats created especially for the season in the city, curated by another colleague, Janhvi Deshmukh, who’s promised me some. The scale, as before, runs only between 9 and 10.


Steamed rice pancakes stuffed with variations of coconut-jaggery filling are common to communites on the western coast. In Maharashtra, they’re steamed in fresh turmeric leaves, rather than the usual banana. You can smell them steaming up from a distance, providing heady distraction during evening aarti.


Think of the satori as the older cousin of the puran poli – hardened, sturdy and stoic. These are smaller discs, with a bit more crunch and a stuffing of besan, ghee and mawa. Many households do a flaky version. Some even look like the small puran polis that come with a Gujarati thali. Either way, filling.


Ninaav are predominantly made by the state’s Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu caste. Think of them as a kind of besan-wheat-rice fudge cooked into a porridge with milk and spices, and then baked. What results is a Maharashtrian brownie – crusty outside and gooey in the centre.

Rushiechi bhaji

A savoury treat. The vegetable preparation is made on the second day after Chaturthi with several seasonal veggies including the colocasia leaf, gourds, corn, flat beans and pumpkin. Some versions are runny, like a curry. Some are drier. Both are considered a delicacy. Janhvi says there are rarely leftovers.

Bharli keli

They are bananas, slit lengthwise, stuffed with coconut and jaggery and baked or roasted. It’s served both hot and cold. One online recipe calls for a dusting of cocoa powder. I don’t recommend it. The original holy trinity of rich sweetness is all you need.

Puffed rice laadu

So simple. So easy to overeat. I’ve encountered these when the celebration calls for mass distribution. All you need is jaggery and kurmura, though there are also versions with caramelised toffee.


Never refuse prasad, particularly if it’s this mix of grated coconut with powdered sugar and cardamom. And if they’re distributing panchkhadya (five kinds of finely chopped dry-fruit: commonly dates, cashew, almond, walnut and pine nut), befriend the family so they offer you more.

Across the border

I remember devouring ammini kozhukattai, a Tamil snack that is impossible to find in restaurants. Its chief ingredient is leftover modak batter, which (rather than turning up in a sweet), gets tossed in a pan with spices and curry leaves until crisp. There’s simply no way to ask for more if the batter has run out. Pity.

First Published: Aug 31, 2019 00:09 IST