Festival Special – Deciphering Modaks

Come festival time, we always celebrate and rejoice with a wide spread of traditional dishes dedicated to that occasion. Ganesh Chaturthi is one such occasion celebrated with Modaks among other foods.

Modaks are dumplings made across India in various sweet and savory variations, although the sweet variant is more popular. The modak can either be steamed or deep fried.

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Known by various names, these dumplings are called modak in Marathi, Konkani and in Gujarati languages. Kozhakkatta in Malayalam. Modhaka or Kadubu in Kannada. Modhakam or Kozhakkattai in Tamil and Kudumu in Telugu.

Although there are many modern innovations, the classic modak includes a rice flour or maida (refined flour) dough with a jaggery/sugar and coconut filling. Most of the times the steamed modaks are placed in vessels but they may also be steamed in turmeric or jackfruit leaves. The stuffing can include:

  • Toor dal, jaggery, and fresh coconut
  • Jaggery, til/sesame seeds, fresh coconut
  • Channa dal, coriander leaves, dill/shepu leaves, mint leaves and green chilies (savory)

The deep fried modaks are mostly made with maida flour and can have a variety of fillings like:

  • Toor dal, jaggery, and dry coconut
  • Jaggery, til/sesame seeds, and dry coconut
  • Roasted channa dal, sugar, dry coconut and dry fruits

Another regional variation is the besan modaks or steamed rice flour balls steeped in flavored coconut milk. The steamed modaks are served with ghee or coconut milk.

Apart from the classic modaks, the modern twists include the use of millet flour instead of rice flour. Fancy innovations include chocolate modaks, shrikhand modak, green peas modak, and the list is endless.

It’s not hard to see that what goes into making the traditional modaks is rich in energy, protein, and good fats. While the different dals prove to be good sources of protein, jaggery, coconut, til/sesame seeds and ghee are power packed and provide good fats as well.

The medium chain triglycerides or MCTs in coconut is said to boost metabolism and also help boost the body’s power to ward off infections, both beneficial for the winter/rainy season.

Ghee, on the other hand, is a concentrated source of energy and a rich source of DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid), a crucial element for brain development. It is also said that during the rainy season, the oils and fat help nourish the skin.

So go ahead and enjoy the modaks guilt free but remember moderation is key!

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