The birthday of Lord Ganesh, remover of obstacles, god of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune is upon us. In India this festive celebration lasts for ten days and is referred to as Ganesh Chaturthi.
As this festival — celebrating the birth of the elephant-headed God begins today, September 5, 2016, many Indian families are busy preparing sweet dishes and traditional Indian cuisine for friends and family to enjoy. With that in mind, we wanted to share with you a few of our personal favs, (two sweet and one savory dish).
It’s been said that Lord Ganesh loves modak, in all its different varieties. A modak is a sweet dumpling popular in Maharashtra, India. With that in mind, we thought we’d share with you our favorite modak recipe made with fresh coconut.
For the Filling:
- 1 cup grated coconut
- 1 cup grated jaggery
- 1 tspn ghee
- 1/2 tspn of cardamom (if that’s not a flavor you’re particularly fond of, opt for a pinch of saffron and a pinch of nutmeg).
For the Dumpling Shell:
- 1 cup of water
- 1 cup of rice flour
- a pinch of salt
- 2 tspn of ghee (one to grease our pan, one for the shell, itself)
Start by heating a pan with the tspn of ghee. Once hot, add the grated coconut and jaggery to the pan. Continue to stir on a low flame for about five minutes. Next, add the nutmeg and saffron. Stir for a few more minutes. Then cover the mixture and let sit and cool for about ten minutes.
Now, let’s work on our dumpling shell. Bring 1 cup of water to boil in a nonstick pan. Add a tspn of ghee and that pinch of salt to the boiling water. Now, shut the gas off and add one cup of flour to the water. Mix well, letting the mixture cool down a bit. Once slightly cooler, begin kneading the dough to ensure it’s well mixed.
Knead the dough into 10 equal size balls. Taking one ball at a time, making a small indentation in the center of each ball. Dipping your fingers in water, begin to create flattened discs with the individual balls you’ve been working on. Using a fork, create small lines on the outside of each flattened disc.
Add a good portion of the coconut jaggery filling to the center of each of the flattened discs. Begin to join the edges of the disc at the top so the lines are showing, but are firmly joined, (each ball should look a bit like a garlic bulb).
Place these lovely treats in a steamer basket. Bring the steamer water to a boil, steaming the modaks for about ten minutes.
Let the steamed modaks sit for another ten minutes. Serve and enjoy!
- 1-1/4 cup coconut freshly grated
- 3 cups milk
- 1/2 cup sugar
- a pinch of nutmeg
Boil the milk and 1 cup of the coconut in a nonstick pan over medium heat, stirring the mixture. After the milk comes to boil, reduce the heat and cook for another 25-30 minutes, until all the moisture is absorbed and the coconut is thick and creamy in consistency.
Now, add the sugar and the nutmeg to the coconut and cook for an additional 7-8 minutes, stirring continuously, until all the moisture is absorbed. (The coconut mixture should be thick and crumbly to the touch).
Turning off the heat, spread the coconut mixture on a plate, letting it cool down to room temperature. Once cooled, take about 2 tablespoons of coconut mixture into your hands and gently press to form a smooth, round edible ball of delight. Continue to do this with the balance of the mixture.
Take the remaining 1/4 cup of freshly grated coconut and spread on plate. Roll your freshly made coconut balls in the grated coconut on the plate for an additional texture sensation.
Feel free to chill these for an hour or so or just enjoy them right away. (These sweet treats don’t usually last that long in my house).
Chickpea sundal is a great savory dish that is often served in temples in South India as prasad.
- 1 cup of chick peas (cooked until soft)
- 1 tspn coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated coconut
- a small bunch of chopped coriander leaves
- 1/2 tspn of mustard seeds
- 1 tspn of chopped green chillies (feel free to leave this out if you don’t like spicy food)
- a piece of grated ginger (about an inch)
- salt to taste
Start by heating the coconut oil in a pan on medium heat; add the mustard seeds and wait till they begin to crackle. Now stir in the ginger, green chillies, salt and the cooked chickpeas. Stir this mixture for a few minutes until all the ingredients are well-mixed and seasoned. Turn off the heat and add in the coconut and coriander leaves.
Serve and enjoy! (I enjoy serving this both, chilled and warm). Though it definitely intensifies the flavors after it’s been chilled for about an hour to two hours.