Guest Post “Modak” or Sweet Dumpling

“Modak” is a sweet dumpling that is very popular and served as “prasad” or an offering to Lord Ganesha on his birthday. The sweet filling is made from freshly grated coconut and jaggery and the outer cover is made from  rice flour. The dumpling is either fried or steamed.

This wonderful recipe comes from my good friend and a great cook Suchitra Rangnekar. Suchitra teaches Indian cooking at Culture Kitchen ( in SanFrancisco. Suchitra lives in the Bay Area and has also been a caterer for many years.

Culture Kitchen’s mission is to spread culture through food, making it possible for people to learn and share authentic ethnic cuisine. Suchitra seemed to be the obvious choice to handle this delicious if complicated recipe. Thanks Suchitra!

“Modaks” are prepared in abundance as an offering to Lord Ganesha (the Hindu Elephant deity) on his birthday, which in 2012 is on September 19. This day is celebrated and known as Ganesh Chaturthi. Since I was keen to getting the ” modak” preparation right and had never attempted to make these on my own, I turned to Suchitra for guidance. Suchitra has provided the recipe, photographs and the step by step instructions. Thank you Suchitra.

Recipe makes 5 to 6 modaks. Enjoy!


To make the outer coating
  • 1/2 cup Rice Flour
  • 2/3 cup of water
  • pinch of Salt
  • 1 tsp Ghee/Butter/Oil
  • 1 pinch saffron (optional)


 To make the stuffing or Saaran
  • 1/2 cup shredded Coconut
  • 1/4 cup Jaggery (grated)
  • Saffron- 1 pinch
  • Cardamom powder 1/4-1/2 tsp
  • cashew or any other nuts (optional)


Mix together the grated coconut, jaggery, cardamom powder, saffron and tiny pieces of cashew or any other nuts.
Put it in a small pot or a pan. Heat gently on a low heat. Till the jaggery melts. Don’t cook too much. Set aside to cool.

Outer coating–
Boil 2/3 cup water in a small pan/or a pot.
Add pinch of salt, saffron (optional) and 1 tsp ghee/butter/ oil.
Add the rice flour and mix together. It will form in a dough. Switch off the burner. Put a lid over the pan. Let it sit for 10 minutes.
Shaping the Modak–
  1. Keep 1/2 cup water and 2-3 tsp of oil in separate bowls.
  2. Take out the dough in a shallow bowl or a plate.
  3. Wet your hands with little water and oil. (rice flour tends to stick to your hands)
  4. Knead the dough till it is very smooth. Make sure there are no lumps.
  5. Make small (about ping pong ball size) rounds (if any time the dough feels sticky wet your hands with little water)
  6. Roll the balls in about 4 inch circles. They should not be too thin or too thick.
  7. Lift the circles in your palm and add about 1-1/2 tablespoon of stuffing in the center. (Or you could make the pleats first and then add the stuffing)
  8. Start to pleat the outer coating from top to bottom 1/2- 1 inch apart. (all the while holding in your palm)
  9. Once the pleats are done, gather all pleats at the center of stuffing and try to seal the edges.
  10. The edges should come together nicely in the center.
  1. You will need a steamer or a rice cooker to steam the “Modaks”.  Line the steamer with parchment paper or for a more authentic flavor, line with banana leaves.
  2. If you don’t have an actual steamer or rice cooker, boil water in a large pot that will hold a steamer basket or colander. The water in the pot should not touch the bottom of the colander or steamer in which the modaks are placed. Steam for 10 to 15 minutes on medium heat.
Steaming the Modak–
  1. Heat about 1-2 cups of water in a rice cooker. Put the steamer on top.
  2. Line it with banana leaves or parchment paper.
  3. Dip the bottom of the modak in water and place them inside the steamer.
  4. Leave little space around each Modak.
  5. Steam for about 10-12 min.
  6. Switch off the rice cooker.
  7. Let it sit for 3-4 min.
  8. Serve immediately with a little dollop of clarified butter or”ghee”.


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