Lord Ganesh‘s birthday is celebrated as Ganesh Chaturthi by hindus all over the world. One of the most popular deities, Ganpati – the God of wisdom and benevolence – is invoked at the start of every puja/religious ceremony to remove all obstacles on the path to success. Depicted with an elephant’s head on a human body, Ganesh is the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati.

On the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi, murti/clay statues of the Lord are set in homes and worshipped with great devotion for 3 days upto a week. This is followed by the visarjan ceremony where the statues are immersed at a river or beach amidst a big, colourful procession of people dancing and singing hymns.

No chaturthi is complete, however, without the traditional indian sweets. It is said that Lord Ganesh himself was a great fan of modaks, a small steamed rice cake stuffed with sweetened coconut. The original modaks were painstaken shaped by hand though the process has now been made easier with the advent of moulds to produce those beautiful garlic bulb shapes.

With the help of some Indian food blogs and videos on Youtube, it took me no less than three attempts before I could make a decent looking version of this not-so-simple sweet dumpling. I guess it takes lotsa hard work to please the Lord.



For the Dough

2 cups rice flour

2 cups water

2 tbs pure ghee

Pinch of salt

For the Filling

2 cups finely grated coconut

1 cup light muscovado sugar

1/4 cup granulated white sugar

1/4 cup mixed dried fruit

1/4 cup almonds or cashew nuts

5 cardamom pods, crushed

1 tbs sesame seeds, roasted


  • Start by preparing the filling; lightly roast the coconut over medium heat in a pan.
  • Add the sugars and mix well. Cook until they turn to a lovely golden colour.

  • Stir in chopped dried fruit, almonds/cashew nuts, cardamom and sesame seeds.
  • Mix until well combined and set aside to cool slightly as you prepare the dough.

  • For the dough, bring water to the boil in a deep pan. Add salt and ghee.
  • Gradually add the rice flour, stirring vigorously to prevent lumps from forming.

  • Cover for 15 minutes, then sprinkle with water and mix. Cover again for 10 minutes.
  • Transfer the dough to a flat, greased surface and wet hands with cold water.

  • Knead the hot dough until smooth and glossy. Divide into 10 lemon sized portions.
  • Keep the rest of the dough covered with a cloth as you proceed to shape each modak.

  • Have a bowl of water and some oil handy to dip fingers as you work with the dough.
  • Also, have your steamer or pressure cooker ready and line the base with a banana leaf.

  • Start by shaping the ball into a cup and work it into an even thickness all around.
  • Pinch the edges of this cup into small evenly spaced folds about 1cm apart.

  • Fill the cup with 1 tbs of the coconut filling and carefully bring the folds together.
  • Press gently to form the pointed top and dip in water before placing in the steamer.

  • This keeps the outer rice coat moist and prevents cracks during the steaming process.
  • Steam for 10 – 15 minutes and serve warm with ghee. Makes about 10 large modaks.