Heat ghee in a pan. Keep flame to a low. Add poppy seeds. Fry for some seconds till the poppy seeds start crackling.
Then add grated fresh coconut, jaggery, cardamom powder and grated nutmeg. Mix well and cook this coconut-jaggery mixture on a low flame. The jaggery will melt first.
Stirring often cook this mixture for 7 to 9 minutes till the moisture from the jaggery begins to dry. Switch off the flame. Don’t overcook as the jaggery then hardens. Keep this coconut-jaggery filling aside. On cooling, the mixture will thicken more.
You can also add a bit of rice flour to this mixture. This is an optional step. The rice flour helps to absorb moisture, if any from the filling. Keep the filling aside to cool.
Making rice flour dough
In a pan add water, oil or ghee and salt. Keep it on the stove top. Let this mixture come to a boil.
Reduce the flame and add the rice flour gradually. Quickly stir and mix the flour with the water. Stir till all the rice flour is mixed with the water.
Switch off the flame. Remove the pan from the stove top and then cover this pan with a lid for 4 to 5 minutes.
Now take all the dough in a large plate or thali or in a bowl. Gather the dough together and begin to knead it.
The dough will be hot when, you begin to knead. So apply some water on your palms and knead the dough. Knead the dough very well. If you feel the dough looks dense or hard or dry, then just add a few teaspoons of warm water and continue to knead.
Make small balls from the dough. Roll the balls till smooth in your palms. You can also apply some water on your palms, while rolling the balls. Keep the balls covered with a kitchen towel. The balls should be smooth in appearance and should not have any cracks.
Making modak without mould
Take a ball and flatten it with your fingers to a round disc or a shallow bowl shape. You can apply ghee or oil in your palms while flattening. Place the sweet filling in the center.
Flute and press the edges. Bring together all the edges and join them. Remove the extra portion of the dough from the top, if any. Shape and taper the top of the modak with your fingers.
Making modak with mould
Grease the modak mould with a bit of ghee or oil. Then close or lock the mould. Put the dough ball inside the mould and press it so that a space is made. Place the sweet stuffing.
Cover the bottom with a small piece of dough. Press and smoothen it sealing the modak.
Open or unlock the modak mould. Remove the modak gently from the mould. Shape all modaks this way with mould. Keep the shaped modak covered with a napkin so that the rice dough does not dry out. Make all the modak this way.
Grease a steamer pan lightly with oil or ghee. Place the shaped modak in the greased pan with some space between them. Cover with a kitchen napkin.
Take 2 to 2.5 cups water in a pot, pressure cooker or an Instant Pot steel insert. Place a trivet or a rack. Heat the water on high flame until begins to boil. For instant pot, use the sauté option and let the water begin to boil.
The water should be hot or boiling when you place the modak in the large pan. Cover the pan and steam modak for 10 to 15 minutes on a medium-low flame. On the Instant Pot, use the steam function on high for steaming and keep the steam vent in venting position so that the steam releases while steaming. Use a stop watch to set the time to 10 or 12 minutes.
Once the ukadiche modak are steamed, you can drizzle a few teaspoons of ghee on them. Some modak may crack while shaping or steaming, buts it is fine. You can forgive yourself if you are making this first time.
Offer the modak to Bhagwan Ganesha.
Rice Flour: You can use homemade rice flour or packaged rice flour.
Jaggery: You can use a block of jaggery or even powdered jaggery.
Coconut: In place of fresh coconut, you can add frozen grated coconut or desiccated coconut. For desiccated coconut use fine grates or fine shreds.
Poppy seeds: You can easily skip poppy seeds.
Dough: Make sure that the dough does not become dry or sticky. If the dough is dry, then add some more water. If it is sticky add some more rice flour.
Stuffing: Do not overcook the stuffing as this will harden the jaggery. If this happens, then just sprinkle a few tablespoons of hot water in the stuffing mixture and mix very well. The hot water will breakdown the hard consistency of the jaggery and make them soft. You can even sprinkle some water and cook the mixture on low heat until it softens.
Cracks in the dough: Less water will result in the dough being dry and having cracks. Do not add more oil or ghee than what is mentioned in the recipe as this will result in the dough tearing when you shape it.
Flattening and Shaping: Do not flatten the dough too thin or too thick. A thin dough will tear while shaping and a thick dough will take more time to cook and will taste doughy and unpleasant.
Note that the nutritional information is for 1 modak.