Labor Day weekend is here and so is Ganesh Chaturthi. This is the time when we pay homage to the elephant Lord, Lord Ganesha and pray for a fuss free life sans obstacles. And get to eat Modkas! Here is my sugar free modak recipe with banana and dates.
The traditional offering or prasad for Lord Ganesha is of course modak! Modak is a kind of dumpling or stuffed parcel primarily made with coconut. Fresh coconut is scraped and cooked with sugar, milk and cardamom to create a sweet stuffing. In my family, this stuffing is placed inside small ‘parcels’ made of flour which are then deep fried. Another type of modak is the steamed modak or ukadiche modak. A similar coconut stuffing is placed inside parcels or dumplings made of steamed rice flour and steamed again.
Both the methods have something in their favor, because they both give us a tasty sweet treat which is enjoyed only once a year. Traditionally, these modaks are always made in batches of 21.
In the past few years, there has been a flood of ‘modern’ or ‘fancy’ modaks in the market, with chocolate, nuts and even savory modaks doing the rounds.
IMHO, it is not sufficient to shape something like a modak to call it one. Otherwise, veg momos, or dimsum could also be called modak.
One of the must have ingredient of the modak is fresh coconut. And so I have taken a stab at trying out a modern modak. Since I am going out of the box anyway, I decided to go all the way and make it sugar free and vegan.
Was I successful? I will let you decide.
Modaks, especially the steamed variety, are generally eaten with loads of ghee. These modaks do not have ghee, and I made a chocolate sauce to go along with it.
Bananas and dates make the filling sweet and quite meaty. This is my first attempt at making ukadiche modaks, so they are a bit rustic :).
I have used cinnamon to flavor the modak because I just love the whole banana-cinnamon-chocolate combination. But you could keep it traditional and just use cardamom.
Naturally sweetened without artificial sweeteners, dairy free, and steamed – how much healthier could these Banana & Date Modaks get?
Banana Date Modak Recipe
- 1 cup fresh coconut, scraped
- 1 cup dates, pitted, chopped
- 2 cups ripe bananas, chopped
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground
- 1/2-1 cup almond milk (optional)
- pinch of salt
- 2 cups rice flour
- 2-3 cups water
- 1 Tbsp oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
- 2 Tbsp sweetener
- 1/2 cup coconut cream
- Finely chop dates and bananas.
- Place scraped coconut, bananas and dates in a pan.
- Mix well and stir until the mixture appears cooked. Add a few splashes of milk or water if it sticks to the pan.
- Mixture is cooked when it all comes together and loses the raw taste.
- Add ground cinnamon and salt, stir and switch off heat.
- Cool completely.
- Heat 2-3 cups water in a pot.
- When water boils, add salt and oil.
- Lower the heat.
- Add the flour, stirring or whisking continuously to avoid any lumps from forming.
- The flour should come together to form a dough.
- Cover with a lid and cook for 5-10 minutes. This is where you 'steam' or cook the flour itself, referred to as 'ukad' in the Marathi language.
- When the flour looks like a dough ball and appears cooked, switch off heat and transfer to a large plate.
- Rub some oil on the bottom of a cup or katori. Stretch the dough out with this, bringing it back together. You are trying to knead the dough and smooth it out. The cup is needed because the dough is hot.
- Wet your hand with water and knead the dough until there are no fine lines or cracks in it.
- Divide the dough in equal portions.
- Pick up one dough ball and press it between your palms. Stretch out the edges in a circular motion to form a circle.
- Place a dollop of coconut-banana-date filling in between. Roll it up like a dumpling by gathering the edges together and sealing it off.
- Heat a steamer vessel and oil it at the base.
- Place the modaks on the top vessel. Steam for 10-15 minutes until heated through.
- Serve hot with chocolate sauce or with ghee (traditional).
- *Coconut ghee is a good nondairy option.
- Whisk together the cocoa powder and coconut cream. Drizzle over the modaks or serve as a side.
- Honey or sweetener like agave can be used here for a sticky texture. Powdered Splenda or Stevia are also options.
Give these a try and let me know how they turned out. Have you checked out my latest book Chai Street yet? Read all about it here, and get plenty of ideas of scrumptious Indian food like pakoras, Chaat, Pav Bhaji, Dahi Bhallas etc. for your Labor Day party.