Ukadiche modak are steamed rice flour dumplings with sweet coconut jaggery filling inside. These traditional sweets are made during Ganesh Chaturthi Festival in India. Sharing how to make modak freehand and using mold.
Heat a pan on medium heat and dry roast the coconut for 5 mins to dry out the moisture if any. I've used frozen, thawed coconut. Fresh coconut can be used too.
Add the grated jaggery, mix till it's melted and well combined. Stir in the cardamom powder, saffron, and cashew pieces (optional).
Keep stirring continuously (approximately 2 mins) until the mixture is almost dry. Turn off the heat and keep it aside to cool slightly.Don't overcook the jaggery coconut filling else it will turn hard.
While the coconut jaggery mixture (also known as saran) cools, let's make the outer covering.
To make the outer covering:
In a pot or saucepan, water, add salt and 1 teaspoon of ghee. Bring it to a boil.
Stir in the rice flour and mix well using a spoon or spatula. The mixture should be soft, lumpy, and crumbly. Turn off the heat. Cover the pot and let this mixture sit for 5 mins.
Transfer the rice flour mixture to a plate and allow it to cool a bit enough to handle but still warm.
Knead the dough for 5 mins using 1-2 tablespoon water (or as needed) and 1-2 teaspoon ghee into a smooth, soft dough. It shouldn’t be cracked or crumbly. Keep covered at all times with a wet cloth to prevent it from drying.
Divide dough and filling equal portions.
You can either make modak freehand or using molds. There are two types of mold available aluminum ones and plastic. I've used the aluminum mold.
To make modak using mold:
Grease your plate or steamer basket.
Open the molds and apply ghee to the inside of the mold. Place one dough ball and close the mold.
From the open side, start pressing and spreading the dough using fingers as thin as possibly can but not too thin. The excess dough will come out of the mold, either cut it or leave it there. It can be used to close the modak.
Place a portion of the filling in the hollow and use the excess covering to close the modak. Remove any excess dough that you see on the joints of the mold.
Open the modak mold place them in the steamer basket.
Slowly open the mold and remove the modak gently. Place it on a greased steamer basket.
Optional Step : Add 1-2 threads of saffron on top of each modak (optional step)
Continue making the remaining modak in a similar manner. Ensure to grease your mold before making the next modak.
To make modak freehand (without mold):
Take one ball and starting in the center start flattening and spreading it in disc or bowl as thin as you can without breaking it.
Place the filling in it and make pleats. Bring all edges together and then join them. Remove the extra covering and shape the top to a point (peak). Place in the greased steamer basket.
You can steam the modak in a pressure cooker or in Instant pot or on the stovetop. Steam in multiple batches depending on how many modak the steamer basket can hold. Do not overcrowd. I did 7-8 at a time.
Steaming Ukadiche Modak in Instant Pot
Add 2 cups of water to instant pot insert. Start saute mode and bring it to a boil. Place the steamer basket with modak on trivet. Cancel saute mode.
Close instant pot lid with the vent in venting posting. Steam (press steam) modak for 10 mins. Start an external timer as the Instant pot timer won’t work.
Allow the pin to drop naturally and open the lid after 5 mins. Allow to stay for 5 mins and then transfer to a plate.
Steaming Ukadiche Modak on the stove top
Place 2 cups of water in the pot and bring it to a boil. Place the steamer basket with modak inside. Close and steam on medium heat covered for 10-12 mins.
Turn off the heat, allow to cool for 5 mins in pot itself. Take the basket out and cool for another 5 mins. Then transfer to a plate.
Steaming Ukadiche Modak in a pressure cooker
Add 2 cups of water to the pressure cooker. Bring it to a boil on medium high heat. Place the steamer basket with modak on the trivet.
Close the pressure cooker lid without the weight. Steam modak for 10-15 mins. Start an external timer.
Let the steam (whistle sound) go away naturally and open the lid after 5 mins. Allow to stay for 5 mins and then transfer to a plate.
Delicious Ukadiche (steamed) Modak are ready!! Drizzle with some ghee and enjoy!!.
For the rice flour dough:
Use a fine variety of rice flour. Ensure it's fresh with no lingering old smell to it.
Knead the dough well (the most important step) with a couple of tablespoons of water and ghee to make it soft and smooth.
Cracked dough is an indication of less water. Dry dough will make shaping difficult and usually, modak turns out dense and chewy after steaming
I prefer my outer layer to be thin but you can adjust it to your liking. Thick covering takes more time to cook and doesn't taste well.
For the sweet coconut filling:
If using desiccated coconut add 1-2 tablespoons of water to bring in the moisture.
Don't overcook the jaggery coconut filling else it will turn hard. If it does, just add a couple of tablespoons of water reheat until soft.
Depending on the color of jaggery, the color of the saran (filling) will vary. Dark jaggery will result in dark saran.
For the modaks:
Take your time to assemble the modak. Rushing might cause to break them.
Use modak molds, they make the shaping process really easy compared to freehand.
My Mom's tip: dip the modak in water prior to steaming for that soft melt-in-mouth modak.