Modak Operandi

Ganesha's favourite sweet, ukadiche modak, are selling like hot cakes.

Four years ago, when Madhuri and her husband Madhav Deshpande introduced fast food items on the menu of Amey — their restaurant in Bandra East — the family elders were unhappy. Over 35 years ago, Amey was started by Madhav's mother as an eatery that served authentic Maharashtrian cuisine, and the change brought about by the new generation was being perceived as a threat to that legacy.

"It was then that I decided to introduce ukadiche modak on the menu, initially only on Tuesdays and the fortnightly Sankashti — days of Ganapati. The response was phenomenal and within six months, it became a regular item on our menu," recounts Madhuri. Today, Amey is the only Mumbai eatery that sells this sweet over-the-counter, throughout the year. And during the Ganapati festival, Amey has been selling, on an average, nearly 1,000 pieces every day with each piece priced at Rs 20.

Ukadiche modak — essentially rice flour dumplings with a sweet filling of grated coconut, nuts and jaggery — is considered the favourite sweet of Ganesha. Yet, most sweet shops, Ganapati pandals and households prefer the mawa versions of the same. This, explains Rahul Paranjpe, the manager of Prakash, the popular Maharashtrian eatery near Shiv Sena Bhavan in Dadar West, is due to the cumbersome procedure that preparation of ukadiche modak entails. "Made with rice flour, coconut, jaggery and nuts, it needs to be prepared fresh and eaten on the very same day because the dumplings are steamed and the items are perishable," explains Paranjpe.

The lengthy procedure and the short shelf-life have caused the mawa version to prevail. However, a few Maharashtrian eateries, including Prakash, are known for their ukadiche modak available during the festive Ganapati season. Prakash has been readying an order of 1,000 modaks every day of the Ganapati festival for chief minister Prithviraj Chavan.

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