It’s Ganesh’s Birthday, Time for Dumplings!

Lord Ganesh is a complete foodie, so the easiest way to his heart is through his belly. On Ganesha Chaturthi, the celebration of Ganesh’s birth, offerings of his favorite foods are often placed before him with love and devotion. Modak is a particular type of sweet that looks like dumplings. They are Ganesh’s absolute favorite and must be offered to him on his birthday! Here is a recipe by cookbook author and culinary educator Raghavan Iyer. (

Modak (Steamed Dumplings With Coconut)

Recipe By: Raghavan Iyer

Makes 20 dumplings


For the filling:

1 cup freshly shredded coconut (available in the freezer section of any Asian market)

½ cup coarsely chopped jaggery or tightly packed dark brown sugar

½ teaspoon cardamom seeds (removed from green pods), ground

For the wrappers:

1½ cups rice flour

¼ teaspoon coarse kosher or sea salt

1½ cups warm water

6 tablespoons canola oil

Additional oil for shaping the wrappers


For the filling:

1. Combine the coconut and jaggery in a small saucepan, heating it over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the jaggery dissolves, 5 to 7 minutes.

2. Stir in the cardamom. Transfer the filling to a plate to cool.

For the wrappers:

1. Dump the rice flour and salt into a medium-size bowl; whisk in the warm water, a few tablespoons at a time, to make a crêpe-thin batter.

2. Stir 3 tablespoons oil into the batter. Pour the remaining 3 tablespoons oil and batter into a cold wok or non-stick skillet.  Heat the batter over medium heat, stirring constantly to prevent any lumps from forming, until the batter thickens up, starts to pull away from the sides of pan, and comes together into a ball to form soft dough, 5 to 7 minutes.  It should feel silky smooth but not sticky to the touch.  Transfer the dough to a plate and spread it a bit to cool, 5 to 10 minutes.

3. Divide the dough into twenty equal parts; shape each part into a smooth ball.  Grease the palms well with oil.  Place a ball in the palm of one hand.  With the fingers of the other hand, press and shape it into a 3-inch-round wrapper.  Place a scant teaspoon of the filling in its center.  Gather up the corners of the wrapper and bring them towards the center to cover the filling.  Pinch the gathered edges together to seal shut, shaping it into a Hershey’s Kiss-like tip.  Repeat with the remaining rounds and filling.

4. Prepare a steamer pan and fill it with water for steaming. Heat the water to boil over medium-high heat. Lightly grease the steamer insert.  Arrange the sealed dumplings (without overcrowding) and steam 10 minutes.  Repeat with the remaining dumplings.

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