If September had to be associated with a dish, it would be modaks. Ok, mainly in Maharashtra and we’re including desserts. Trust us, braving the never ending traffic signals and incessant honking becomes much easier when you have something sweet in your mouth. Believed to be the Hindu God Ganesha’s favourite food, modaks are traditionally made with fresh grated coconut and jaggery in a rice flour or wheat flour shell. These are then fried or steamed before being put into the halwai’s display tray. Over the years, the simple modak has changed to include sweeter variants like chocolate modaks and savoury variants with a spiced cottage cheese filling.
The word modak means one that brings pleasure or joy and its form is designed to represent energy in a spiral form with the void being filled with spiritual joy that emanates into the surrounding through it’s peak. Hindu mythology has an interesting story as to how it came to be the Elephant God’s favourite food. According to legend, one of the Gods presented Shiva and Parvati with a divine modak that would make whoever ate it, knowledgeable about the vedas. When the brothers Ganesha and Kartika refused to share it, Parvati devised a test to prove sincerity and devotion. Ganesha ultimately won the test and hence is known as the master of all things intellectual.
Hmm… If only eating modaks now meant gaining knowledge instead of weight…
Well, if you are worried about the calorie meter going haywire this season, try the low calorie sugar-free versions available at almost all sweet shops though they might be a bit more expensive than the regular ones.
Karachi Sweets in Bandra does a delicious sugar-free version with figs. For truly authentic modaks, you need to be invited for Ganpati Puja at a traditional Maharashtrian home that is sure to have a secret recipe passed down through generations.
Modakam, in Prabhadevi is the most popular place for the ukdiche modak (steamed modak) that are often sold out after the first half of the day. For chocoholics, it’s a choice between Fantasie Fine Chocolate in Bandra, Chocolate Studio at Juhu and Country of Origin in Nepean Sea Road and Juhu for modaks with chunks of dark chocolate.
Now, the only thing left to do is brave those traffic jams to get to your choice of modaks.