Naivedya…Malai Modak


Both my kids were born on Tuesdays. Now, in the US , they say that the tuesday kid is full of grace.The old and the wise (read that as the elders in our family) say that tuesday kids are stubborn and bull-headed. I dont know about the first but my son is definitely showing signs of the later. But, now that I think about it, he does have a certain grace about his stubborness. There is a 'certain grace' with which he will plop on the floor and throw his legs about when he wants something he is not supposed to have and there is a 'certain grace' with which his voice reaches tempos, that most opera singers can only dream about, within a nanosecond of something going against his wishes or if he is at his pediatricians'. Oh yes, my little dude does have 'grace'. I wonder ,though, why his pediatrician can't see it. :). My daughter is too young (2 months as I type this) to show signs of this. However, she observes everything that her brother does very intently, so that can't be far behind.

The point, you ask. In hindu mythology, tuesday is the day of Shri Ganesha. Yes, the elephant-headed god Himself. I have always had a special affinity towards this deity. You can't be part of Bombay and not feel so. Ganeshotsav is always a big part of Bombay. This festival celebrates the diety's birthday and it is done with great pomp and splendour. To have both my kids born on His day has only made it that much more special for me. Every Month, the fourth day of the second fortnight(Krishnapaksha) is considered Sankasthi chaturthi. Thats the day after the new moon. They (again, the old and wise) say that fasting on this day gets rid of all the sankat (hardships, troubles) coming your way. Fasting includes not eating regular food, eating only satvik foods till the moon rise. Pray to Shri Ganesha, pay homage to the moon, offer naivedya to both and only then eat regular food. Satvik food is pure and fresh vegetarian food that is prepared without the influence of onion and garlic, and with very little spices. The category is further shortened when your regular grains and cereals are also supposed to be avoided. So no rice or wheat. Basically, you are supposed to avoid food that generates too much heat in your body.  Naivedya is an offering to God (Niveda is sanskrit for offering hence Naivedya items).

I observe a fast on this day.

Don't ask me why. I am not gullible enough to believe that fasting for a day, every month would really make life all smooth and full of rose-tints. I do it, however, because it gives me a feeling of control with regards to something that I actually do not have any control over. It makes me feel that I am doing something to protect my family. Its all a part of being a parent, all part of trying to make life perfect for the kids. Deep within you, you know there is no such thing as a perfect world, you know that they are going to have to overcome their own share of hardships to make a good life for themselves, you know there are going to be pitfalls before they reach the peak of success and more importantly, you know that there is not a darn thing you can do about it except tend to their bruises and wounds. Thats where the prayers come in. Its funny how being a parent humbles you.

You would think that depriving youself of food for a whole day would be tough, but its not. There is an entire different set of recipes that are just so filling and delicious that you almost forget that you are fasting. Almost. There is an equally delicious set of recipes that are used as naivedya. Since I do this every month, I am now starting a series of monthly posts recording foods I prepare for fasts and naivedya.

So,  join me for delicious food , snippets on hindu mythology and a prayer.

I made Malai Modak as naivedya today. Modak is a steamed dumpling stuffed with coconut and jaggery and is supposedly Shri Ganesha's favorite. I decided to make these non-stuffed modaks the way I make malai pedas, just shaped like modaks. I make these with ricotta cheese. If you are one of those purists who consider that blasphemy, you are most welcome to make khoya in the time honored way of heating up a gallon of milk in a heavy bottomed vessel and then reducing it on low flame constantly stirring it. In about 3 to 4 hours, you should have khoya. Me, I have a pact with God. The only allowance I make, seeing that this is naivedya, is that I buy organic ricotta cheese with no preservatives.

The recipe…

16oz Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese

1 cup Heavy Cream

1/2 tsp Cardamom Powder

3-4 Strands Saffron

1/2 cup Sugar

2 tbsp Ghee (Clarified Butter)


Heat the ricotta cheese in a wide mouthed pan on medium heat for 6-7 mins. Stir quite frequently. The cheese would first melt and then regain its texture. Add the cream, saffron and cardamom powder and keep stirring all together till all the liquid dries up. Crush the saffron strands between your fingers before adding them, this way they will bring in more color and taste. Keep cooking till the mixture regains the texture of ricotta cheese, about 10-12 mins. Add the sugar and cook on high flame till the mixture forms a ball. Remove from flame, add the ghee and mix well. Allow to cool a little and shape into modaks or pedas.

To shape into modaks, take 1 tbsp of mixture and make a smooth ball. Now, using the all your fingers pull a little bit of a mixture ,elongating it. Press the other side of the ball on the counter or the plate. To shape into pedas, take a tsp of the mixture, shape into a ball and flatten it a little between your palms.

This recipe will make 21 modaks/pedas, exactly the number for the naivedya.


28 thoughts on “Naivedya…Malai Modak

  1. The Modaks look DIVINE .. iam sure Lord Ganesha is happy to see those yummy modaks and u sure are blessed by him… simple recipe, simple ingredients. Shall give it a try soon.
    Iam waiting for the bananas to ripen to try the mangalore buns 🙂

    Yes, priya…I do feel blessed by Him…although there are those moments when the kids get out of hand…..:) nahhhhhhhh…just kidding…….have fun making those buns…

  2. Sankashti is very popular in Maharashtra and Karnataka right?
    My cousin who is bought up in karnataka does it every single month and has been doing from the time when she was little. She also told me that fasting on a sankashti that falls on tuesday is equivalent to fasting on 11 sankasthis.

    Beautiful looking modals vee….

  3. fantastic recipe!! I used to make something like this with ricotta and milk powder. Haven't made it in a long time…

    I'm impressed that you fast! I'm either eating or thinking about food all the time 🙂


    Yes, SH.. I have that recipe too,…But this recipe makes for a more softer modaks which is why I make them this way..

  4. Lovely post. I fast too and have been doing so for the last several years. This was on the advice of a guruji who suggested we do this as a family when we moved into our new home. I admire him so for telling us about this. I will always have wonderful memories of sankashti naivedya because of this. I liked your recipe too. The photo took me straight to August September in Bombay!


  5. Hi Vee,
    A great write-up there. I like the way you have tried to explain ‘satvik’, ‘naivedya’ and the significance of ‘sankashti chaturthi’. Well-researched.
    The recipe is good, too. I guess I’ll try this out.
    Thanks for dropping by at my blog. Keep coming. I can see myself coming to yours regularly.

  6. Santhi – yeah me too. I really like this post. There is some sort of mundane touch to the paragraph where Vee talks about fasting and kids. It is very sentimental and yet light 🙂

  7. hi i tried this recipe on sankashti this mnth..turned out grt.thnks for sharing this recipe.i am besotted by the elephant headed god…mumbaikar to the core.take care god bless.

  8. Hello Vee,

    I accidentally visited your website. I was looking for the Chole Bature recipe and bang! I happened to click on your blog. I must say, it’s one of the more captivating blogs I’ve ever visited and I am totally intrigued by the way you nurture it. Keep up the good work! I really look up to women who make a niche for themselves and are proud of it! And hats off to you, to be able to strike such a perfect balance being a Mom of 2 kids. Well I could go on but to cut it short, I love your blog and will visit it often! For recipes for the heart and soul and of course, the taste buds!

    Best regards,

    *Blush* *Blush*

  9. Vee,
    Tks for this wonderful recipe(pls chk ur mail..hv mailed u modak photo) i m going to the kitchen right away for preparing this recipe 4 the second time(Wt my 17month toddler behind me wt his drunken walk,though cant say amma yet…knows how to supervise and instruct me!)tks abt to make malai pedha this time.Also i wish to tell u that ur blog makes for a wonderful reading,wt witty lines and Ricotta has become an addition to my weekly provision list…hubby tells me ‘there is ur Ricotta cheese waiting to b picked up by u & transformed into tasty pedha!’ hahaha..Vee tks again..(sorry took up lot of space commenting!but lovely recipes need elaborate taarif…whatsay?)

    Best Rgds–
    Purnima Kamath

  10. I am definitely going to try this recipe since I have been looking for a recipe for pedas. However, these days we are getting Khoya in Indian food stores. So it’ll be great if you could post the proportions using khoya.

  11. I am trying this recipe for tomorrow’s Ganesh Chaturthi…thanks for such lovely recipe and I think I can impress Lord Ganesha with them…

    Yes, yes, Ganesha will be very impressed. Don’t forget to mention that you picked the recipe from me when He comes to bless you.. 😀

  12. Pingback: GaNpati Bappa Morya… « Past, Present and Me

  13. A few things:
    The glorious yellow of the modaks may not result from the 3-4 strands of saffron. I did use fairly high quality safron.
    The whole thing took me about 30 mins. For the purists, please try the whole milk ricotta – you would save those three – four hours trying to “reduce milk into khoya”.
    I was not gonna touch these babies straight out the pan (not enough callus on my palms – yet) to form modak shape. I used a ss tbspn to scoop them out and plop onto the pretty mini baking cups. The scoop shape may remind you of the pedas.
    Ms. Vee, the recipe rocks,

  14. Thank you for this fabulous recipe! I doubled the quantities and it still turned out great! I did use quite a bit of elbow grease for the last stage tho’ – took me 50 minutes of stirring..:( Is that normal or did I mess up? Oh well – it turned out fine – and that’s what matters. Happy Diwali!

    They turned out great, and that’s exactly what matters! The time it took depends upon the quantity, at what flame you cooked it on etc, what type of stove, inshort a lot of factors. Don’t worry abt it, just enjoy them.

  15. Vee,

    What a nice post this is! I am planning on posting on Chaturthi over the weekend too. Was wondering if I can add you to my blogroll and also link to your wonderful recipe.

    I have been a Lord Ganesha fan ever since I was a child and not surprisingly my daughter was born on Tuesday as well. She turned five months this September. The willful screaming makes a lot of sense now 😀

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