Modak is Ganpati Bappa’s favorite snack! But why does HE like modak? Rather, why is the offering to this deity always modak?The liking of this particular sweet is so much, that one of the names of THIS Ganesha is ‘Modakpriya’.
If we see the literal meaning of the word ‘modak’, we understand that it can be broken into ‘moda’ (मोद) and ‘k’ (क). ‘Mod’ means happiness and ‘k’ a fraction. So, modak means a fraction or a small part of the entire thought of happiness. It is also called ‘Gyanmodakam’, meaning, the modak of knowledge.
Happiness that one gains after receiving knowledge is of a higher degree.Also ‘k’ at the end of the word denotes that which gives. So, modak also means that with gives happiness.
It is shaped like a coconut. At the beginning, knowledge seems to be less, but as one delves deep into the process of achieving it, one realises that there’s an ocean lying ahead. Similarly, one needs to open the tapering tip of modak, add ghee on top and eat it.
Ghee is a metaphor for energy consumed while acquiring knowledge. Ghee makes the modak delicious, just like efforts put into learning.The filling contains coconut and jaggery.
Coconut is supposed to be known as the king of fruits, when it comes to offering it to any deity. So, metaphorically, best efforts put in to achieve something gain the best of results, giving joy to the mind. The modak kept on the palm of the idol of Ganesha symbolises that HE is the Giver of happiness.
Types of modak
Ukdiche modak or modak having an outer cover of steamed rice flour dough is made in the coastal belt of Maharashtra, Konkan.
As we reach the Deccan plateau, we see fried modak made out of wheat flour dough.
The reason is simple. Any offering made to deities is region specific. Rice is the staple food in Konkan and wheat in the plains. We made ukdiche modak on the first day, Ganesh Chaturthi. Today, we made the fried version.
Whenever modak is made, there’s always one karanji made along with it. It symbolises the inclusion of both, male as well as female elements. The word Modak has a masculine gender and karanji, feminine So, made one karanji along with 11 modak.
शास्त्र असतंय ते
Ganpati Bappa Morya
I was taught to make these modaks by my grandmother,who was a Parsi.Yes!, And she used make them every year, though my mum would make fried Modaks.
Ukhadiche modak are made down south in Tamil Nadu too, only the name differs, they are called kolakotai (the ‘la’ is kamala’cha ‘la’). Written as kozhakotais. And they have two varieties, sweet and salted.
Click here for recipe for Modak and Karanji
Rita Jamshed Kapadia
Cookbooks are available on Amazon. Rita has published the MEGA "Manna of the 21st Century Parsi Cuisine cookbook" and several other mini cookbooks.