Sweet Tooth

Ukadiche Modak-Sweet Offerings


Waiting_ganesh_copy_2

All around Maharashtra, in the countryside, across the fields, in the sheds of potters and craftsmen, you will catch sight of Ganapati idols, white as rice flour, waiting for the brush of colour and devotion in the joyful days ahead

Meanwhile, inside homes, preparation has begun to host the God and offer prayers and offerings. What better way to start than by making modaks, which are the deity’s favourite food? Sant Jnaneshwar identifies Ganapati with the totality of sacred texts and knowledge and even in the Padma Purana the modak is said to be the symbol of perfect knowledge. It is said that, just by inhaling its aroma, a man can achieve immortality because he would understand the essence of all sacred books and become proficient in the sciences and arts.

Traditionally made on the first day of the festival no other sweetmeat is as associated with Ganesh Chaturthi. Besides the 21 modaks traditionally offered to this most popular and beloved of deities, prepare to make plenty more, because his tastes have spread and most people cannot resist these sweets made, as they are, in perfect bite sized pieces.

Ukadiche_modak

Ingredients

Makes approximately 25 modaks

Filling

  • 2 coconuts grated fine.
  • 1 ½ cups pale yellow jaggery grated
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp raisins
  • 1 ½ tsps elaichi powder, freshly ground.
  • 2 tbsp cashew nuts chopped
  • 1 tsp ghee

 

Dough

  • 2 cups of rice flour, ready made or make your own in a grinder. I use  two scented rices : Chinor and Ambemohr . This rice should be just harvested, young  rice so that the dough becomes more pliable.
  • 2 tbsps flour/ maida
  • 2 tbsps ghee
  • A pinch of salt
  • 2 cups of water
  • Pinch of saffron

Fry the chopped cashew nuts in a teaspoon of ghee till golden brown. Grate the coconuts and gur. Put both in a kadhai along with the sugar and raisins and cook stirring continuously till the mixture becomes soft and sticky and fairly dry.. Take off the fire, let it cool and then add the elaichi powder and the cashewnuts . Mix well and set aside while preparing the dough.

Mix the rice flour and maida. Heat two cups of water with the ghee and as it comes to the boil add the salt and the rice and flour mixture. Let it come to the boil twice, mixing all the while to dissolve any lumps and then remove from the fire. Now knead well till the dough becomes soft.

Roll out into circles of 3” diameter. The circles should be not more than 3mm in thickness like a fine chapathi. Grease hand with a drop of oil and place the circle on the centre of the palm. Fill each circle with a teaspoon of the coconut and jaggery mixture. Now gather the outer edges of the circle as if pleating cloth and swivel the modak in the palm as you close the edges. This takes some practice to get right.( You can also get little modak makers in metal or plastic but I cannot vouch for their effectiveness.)

Place the prepared modaks on a muslin swathed plate in a steamer, top with a bit of butter paper to prevent them from getting soggy, then cover tightly with the lid and cook for 10-12 minutes till done. Make in batches according to the size of your steamer. You can use a colander over a trivet in a cooker if you do not own a steamer.

Soak a few strands of saffron in a bit of melted ghee. Put a droplet of saffron infused ghee on top of each modak for colour and essence.

Now you are ready to bring Lord Ganesha home.


Lemon Cake

Sonar_lemon_cake

One of the difficulties encountered while using lime to flavour baked goods, is that the taste tends to dissipate the moment it is exposed to heat. When I received a precious batch of Gandh Raj, (pronounced Gondho Raj) a fragrant lime from Bengal, I was determined to capture its essence in a cake. A simple yellow cake seemed the right thing but I find many sponge cakes either greasy and dense, or dry and dusty, in short a bit sick making. It was a question of tweaking the amounts of those basics- flour, sugar and butter, to get the right texture while preserving the tang of the lime.

The secret lies in using buttermilk instead of milk and in adding limejuice to the icing. Now Gandh Raj may not be within your reach but don’t let that stop you from trying out this recipe as ordinary lime will do just fine. Maybe not as "Sonar".

Ingredients:

3 cups of flour

2 tsps baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

200 gms butter (at room temperature)

325 gms or 1 ½ cups sugar (preferably ground into a powder)

3 eggs and 1 egg yolk

3 tbsp limejuice

1 tbsp grated zest of lime. ( Mix the zest with the juice and set aside)

¾ cup buttermilk

1 tsp vanilla essence

Mix the four ingredients above .

Icing:

1 cup confectioners sugar (use powdered sugar if you don’t have confectioners sugar)

1 1/2 tbsp limejuice

1 tbsp buttermilk

Heat oven to 175 degrees C. Butter cake tin lightly. Sift the flour baking soda, baking powder and salt together twice. Beat eggs with the yolk in a small bowl till well mixed. In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar well by beating with a hand mixie for at least 6 minutes, first at high speed and then at medium speed. The mixture should really look like cream.

Now add the egg mixture in two halves, beating well on low speed after each addition. Add one cup of the flour mixture and beat till just incorporated into the mixture. Now add the buttermilk and lime juice mix alternating with the flour mixture. Each time you make an addition mix the batter for just about 10 seconds.

Spoon the batter into the prepared baking tin and bake for 35- 40 minutes till golden brown on top. Insert a skewer or fork to check that the inside is cooked (the fork should come out clean without any attached crumbs or batter.)

Mix the caster sugar, buttermilk and lime juice to make the icing and drip a bit on top while the cake is hot. Wait till it has cooled before dribbling the rest of the icing on. The icing gives it a nice tartness and distills the lemon essence while dressing up the cake for presentation.

In spite of my temperamental oven this turned out pretty darn good !!


Rawa Rasmalai-Semolina sweets

Rawa Rasmalai

As long promised here is another  recipe for a rawa /suji semolina dessert.

Ingredients

1 cup suji
1 coconut, ground
1 cup sugar
5-6 elaichi/ cardomom, powdered
1 tbsp ghee
1 1/2 litres milk

Heat ghee in a kadhai and roast the suji for a couple of minutes. Add the ground coconut and half of the sugar. On low heat keep on stirring the mixture till the sugar dissolves. Add the cardamom powder. When the mixture begins to get sticky take off fire and form small oval shaped balls. Set aside for a couple of hours.
Boil the milk and add the rest of the sugar. Keep simmering on low heat  till the milk becomes half its original quantity i.e. 750 ml. Now immerse the suji rolls gently into the hot milk.Remove from fire. Let it cool. Chill for at least half an hour before serving.