The city is bubbling with excitement as Ganeshotsav approaches. People are crowding the streets to shop for all the necessary items such as jewellery, clothing, incense sticks, flowers and much more that will be needed to welcome Bappa. This time of the year is also a busy time for sweet shops as they prepare several varieties of modaks, Bappa’s favourite sweet meat. So much is his love for modaks that he even earned the name ‘Modakpriya’.
The term modak was initially found used in the Mahabharata and the Sushruta Samhita, an ancient Sanskrit text on medicine and surgery. A modak is a sweet dumpling that is traditionally made from rice flour dough that is filled with a mixture of jaggery and coconut shavings. The modaks that are steamed are called Ukadiche modaks and are served with dollops of ghee. They are a common sight in temples and homes during the prayers. Twenty-one modaks are offered to Bappa on the first day of the festival.
Apart from the steamed ones, modaks are also made from mawa or khoya, which are dried evaporated milk solids. Modaks can also be stuffed with a mixture of dry fruits. Fried modaks filled with an assortment of nuts and dried figs also make for a good treat to have during the festival.
Pune’s well-known sweet shops like Kaka Halwai, Badhai Sweets and Chitale Bandhu Mithaiwale are gearing up for the festival by preparing varieties of modaks. The wide array includes Ukadiche Modak, Mawa Modak, Mango-flavoured Modak, Cashew Modak, Fried Modak, Jumbo Modak and Chocolate Modak. The steamed modak and the Jumbo Modak are priced per piece whereas the rest are priced per kilogram.
Manoj Sethi, an ardent Ganapati devotee in the city, who is preparing for this year’s festival with excitement and grandeur, gets modaks only from Badhai Sweets every year. “Modaks are Bappa’s favourite sweets! I get half a kg every day for all the 10 days. My family and I prefer to buy the Ukadiche modaks as it is traditionally used for the prayers and is loved by as and Bappa alike!”
Over the years, these sweet mounds have faced several transformations and the taste has been modified by several experiments. Chocolatiers and patisseries have made their mark by invented different desserts centred around the modak to create mouth-watering variations like a deep-fried modak infused with Nutella chocolate, a modak placed atop a cupcake and dark chocolate-flavoured modaks.
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