Ukadiche Modak is an exquisite Maharashtrian delicacy made with steamed rice flour dough, stuffed with aromatic and sweet coconut, jaggery, nutmeg, cardamom and saffron filling.
These Modaks are offered to Lord Ganesh and made especially during the ten-day celebration of the Ganesha festival which starts this week. There are literally dozens of ways to make a modak, but of course my mom had to spoil us with these luscious, heavenly ‘ukadiche modak’.
UPDATE: Please check the instructions and video for steaming modak in Instant Pot!
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Over the years that I have started cooking, I have tried to convince myself to like the other kinds of modak as well. Why… because I was terrified to make ukadiche modak on my own. Some of my initial attempts resulted in some sad looking modak. Some would tear apart in the mold and if they survived the mold, they would burst open while steaming. It was quiet tiring to keep up with the hot rice flour dough, ‘ukad’ and then making 11 or 21 perfect ones was frustrating.
Few times when I was in India for this festival, the thought of trying to learn them from my mom never crossed my mind. My sole interest at that time was to only indulge in them.
Back in 2000, I came across an article in an Indian newspaper that was all about foods to prepare during the Ganesha festival. The article was extremely detailed and had not one or two but NINETEEN tips on just how to make the outer covering properly! It also explained five different types of fillings. I was not interested in the different fillings as I prefer the authentic filling of coconut and Jaggery. It was this article that gave me a lot of confidence and tips that over the years my ukadiche modak making skills have improved drastically.
So while I thought I had mastered making pretty good modak, I realized that I was still not making them the right way.
During my trip to India this year, my cousin, Prajakta, came all the way from Panchgani to spend time with me during the last few days of my stay at my mom’s house. With my frenzy of packing, I was feeling guilty that I would be unable to spend some quality time with her. Realizing that Prajakta is an expert in making ukadiche modak, we decided to spend the afternoon chatting and making the modak together.
We had a great afternoon together filled with laughter and memories. The biggest take away for me that afternoon was how to make perfectly soft outer shell.
Tips of making Ukadiche Modak Shell:
- The key is to let the steamed dough cool down and then knead well until it becomes extremely soft and moist. There really is no reason to rush working on the steaming dough while it is hot. Let the dough cool down enough to be handled.
- At first, the dough may seem a little dry and coarse. Knead it well with couple of tablespoons of warm water and a little bit of ghee. This will make the dough perfectly soft and moist for making modak shells.
Tips for making perfect modak filling
- If using frozen pre-shredded coconut, dry roast the coconut on medium heat for 5 minutes so most of the moisture will evaporate.
- Make sure to grate the jaggery or break into very small pieces so there are no lumps of jaggery in the final filling.
- After adding all the filling ingredients, cook the filling for 5 to 7 minutes on low-medium heat or until the mixture starts to look dry. This will prevent the jaggery syrup from ozzing out of the modak while steaming.
The modak can then be assembled at leisure using the dough and the sweet filling. Prajakta makes these gorgeous tri-color handmade modak, while I still am relying on my modak mold to make them perfectly uniform.
Where to buy modak mold
I bought my modak mold from India. Around August – Sepetmber many Indian grocery stores in the US also sell modak molds. Modak molds are also available on amazon.
How to make modak without the mold
Do not have the mold? No worries, traditionally modak were made by hand. It just takes a little bit practice to shape them uniformly. Apply some ghee on your palm and finger tips and start pressing one ball of the rice dough between the palm of your hands. Then gently strech the sides to form a 3 inch cup. Place the filling in the center and start making pleats on the side by pinching the sides of the dough. Makes 5 to 7 pleats to bein with and eventually you can make more pleats which makes the modak look pretty. Once you have pleated all around, gently bring them all in the center and close the modak from the top so that all the filling is enclosed.
Here is a step by step recipe to make soft and luscious Ukadiche Modak:
Ingredients for Ukadiche Modak: rice flour, jaggery, ghee, coconut, saffron, nutmeg and cardamom!
- Bring 1 cup of water to boil. Add salt and 1 tsp ghee. Turn the heat to low and add the rice flour. Mix it well with a spoon. Cook covered for 2-3 mins on low heat.Turn the heat off and pour the dough in a mixing bowl and let it cool.
- To make the stuffing, grate the jaggery or break into small pieces using a pestle. In a heavy bottom pan gently roast the coconut on medium heat for 5 minutes. Add jaggery, saffron, nutmeg powder and cardamom powder and cook on low heat for another 5 to 7 minutes or until the filling starts to look dry. Mix well and keep aside. This stuffing can be made a couple of days in advance and refrigerated until ready to be used.
- Knead the rice dough using 1 tsp of ghee and 1-2 tbsp of warm water for 10 mins until the dough is soft and moist. Make lemon sized balls with the dough and keep aside.
- Apply little oil on the inside of the mold. Close the mold and spread the rice dough inside the mold and start shaping it around gently with your fingers.Some of the dough will also come outside of the mold which will be used to seal the modak. Gently put about 1 tsp of stuffing inside the mold. Seal the bottom with the extra dough that is outside of the mold. Gently open the mold and put the modak in the steamer. Note: I am using the steaming rack from my old stove top steamer. But this steamer from amazon works well too.
- Repeat this for rest of the modak. Start heating some water in the steamer pot. Once all the modak are ready, put the steaming rack inside the steamer pot and cook covered for 10 mins on low to medium heat. Note: Check the detailed recipe for Instant Pot steaming instructions.
- Turn the heat off, let the modak cool for 5 mins. Gently remove them from the steaming rack onto a plate. Enjoy!
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- 3 tsp ghee
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup fine rice flour
- 3/4 cup jaggery
- 1 cup fresh grated coconut Frozen works well too
- 1/4 tsp cardamom powder
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg powder
- 1/4 tsp saffron
- To make the stuffing, grate the jaggery or break into small pieces using a pestle. In a heavy bottom pan gently roast the coconut on medium heat for 2 minutes. Add jaggery, saffron, nutmeg powder and cardamom powder and cook on low heat for another 2 minutes. Mix well and keep aside. This stuffing can be made a couple of days in advance and refrigerated until ready to be used.
- In a medium pot, bring 1 cup of water to boil. Add 1 tsp ghee and salt. Turn the heat to low and add the rice flour. Mix it well with a spoon. Cook covered for 2-3 mins on low heat.Turn the heat off and pour the dough in a mixing bowl and let it cool.
- Knead the rice dough using 1 tsp of ghee and 2-4 tablespoon of warm water for 5 mins until the dough is soft and moist. Make 13 lemon sized balls with the dough and keep aside.
- Apply little ghee on the inside of the mold. Close the mold and spread the rice dough inside the mold and start shaping it around gently with your fingers.Some of the dough will also come outside of the mold which will be used to seal the modak. Gently put about 1-2 tsp of stuffing inside the mold. Seal the bottom with the extra dough that is outside of the mold. Gently open the mold and put the modak in a steaming rack. Repeat and make remaining modak.
Heat 1 cup of water in a steamer pot. Once all the modak are ready, put the steaming rack inside the steamer pot (I do 7-8 at a time*) and cook covered for 10 mins on low to medium heat. Turn the heat off, let the modak cool for 5 mins. Gently remove them from the steaming rack onto a platter. Enjoy!
Add 1 cup of water to the Instant Pot insert. Place the trivet. Gently place the steamer basket with modak in the Instant Pot. Close Instant Pot lid with pressure valve to sealing.
Cook on Manual / Pressure Cook (Low pressure) for 6 minutes followed by Natural Pressure Release. Open the Instant Pot, allow the modak to cool for 5 mins. Take out on a serving platter.
My steamer basket fits 8 modak without sticking to each other. Make sure there is a little room between the modak so they do not stick to each other after cooking.
Apply generous amount of ghee to the mold before making each modak. This will make sure that the modak do not stick to the mold.
Rinse and dry the modak mold half way through to make sure the modak do not stick to the mold.
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Hey there! I am a techie turned recipe developer, cooking instructor, and food blogger. I love food and enjoy developing easy and healthy recipes for busy lifestyles. I live New Jersey with my husband and two sons.