Monday, August 31, 2009


Ganesha Chaturthi celebrates the birthday of Lord Ganesh, the Lord of success, education, knowledge, wisdom, wealth and destroyer of evils and obstacles. The festival is celebrated in the Hindu month of Badrapadh (mid-August thru September) for ten days. It is celebrated with great show and pomp in Maharashtra and is an important festival in most parts of India.

Lord Vinayaka (Ganesha) loved food, especially a sweet called modakam, also known as kudumulu, kadubu, kozhakottai. To appease Ganesha, modakams are prepared on this day as Prasadam (offering). This dumpling like, steamed pastry can be filled with a variety of fillings like poornam (lentil paste), sesame filling, peanut filling or the most traditional of all, coconut filling.

I made these recently for the festival. Even though these were not the most perfect of modakams I decided to share it with you. All that matters is that they taste good, right???


• 2 cups rice flour

• ½ tsp oil

• A pinch of salt

• 1 ½ cups grated coconut (fresh or frozen)

• ¾ cup crushed jaggery

• 3-4 cardamoms crushed

In a microwave safe bowl melt the jaggery with a tsp of water for 2 minutes on high in the microwave. Add the cardamom powder and coconut and mix well. Microwave for another minute, remove and cool.

Bring 2 ¼ cups of water to a boil and add the salt and oil. Reduce the heat to low and dump the rice flour into it and cover it with a tight lid. Remove from heat. After 3-4 minutes, mix the mixture well with a wooden spoon to form a dough ball. Oil your palms and make 1 inch balls and set aside covering it with a damp cloth.

On a surfaced smeared with a little oil roll out the dough into 4 inch rounds. It will be a little tricky since the dough can be sticky to work with.

Lift it gently and hold it in your palm. Add a tsp of the filling in the centre. Gently gather the sides over the filling and pinch it together. Dip finger in water and gently smooth over any crack that form in the process. Gently mold it into the classic modak shape- like a Hershey’s kiss. Cover the prepared modaks with a damp cloth till all are done.

Steam these for 8-10 minutes in greased pans. Make sure they do not touch each other while they are steamed.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Spicy Treats- Mirchi Bajjis

My 4 yr old’s teacher grew an abundance of yummy banana peppers in her backyard this summer. Being the wonderful lady that she is, she sent some over for our family to enjoy. The only thing that popped to my mind the minute I saw them was of course- Mirchi bajjis.

I immediately set out preparing these delicious fritters. Mirchi bajjis in India are way spicier than the ones I made today and there are different variations. They are mostly sold on busy street corners. Mom used to make these especially on rainy evenings with chai.

I made the milder version with these mild, delicate yet flavorful banana peppers. Even the kids loved them. Thanks Ms.K for making my day!

And what a way to start my blog - with a ‘spicy’ treat sold in busy gallis (alleys)… Get it??? Spice…Alley??? Lame I know! never mind, here’s the recipe.

1. 10 Banana Peppers

2. 1 cup Besan (gram flour)

3. 2 heaping tsp rice flour

4. 1 tsp ajwain or crushed cumin

5. ½ tsp turmeric

6. ¼ tsp chili powder

7. Salt to taste

8. A pinch of asafoetida (optional)

9. 2 tbsp of hot oil

10. Oil for frying

Heat oil. Mix ingredients 2 through 9 in a bowl.

Add water to make a smooth thick batter.

Dip each pepper into the batter and make sure to coat it well.

Gently drop it into the hot oil and fry till golden brown, about 7-8 minutes.

Drain on paper towels. Spicy mirchi bajjis are ready! Enjoy with a cup of tea!