Rinse 1/2 cup chana dal a couple of times in water. Then add the lentils in a pressure cooker along with 1 cup water. Pressure cook for 10 to 12 minutes on medium flame. Cooking time depends on quality of dal. If chana dal cooks faster, then add 2/3 to 3/4 cup water while pressure cooking.
When the pressure settles on its own in the cooker, open the lid and check the dal. If the dal has not softened then you can pressure cook for a few more minutes.
If there is a lot of water in the dal, then in a strainer, strain the dal and then mash. There was hardly any water in the pressure cooker after the dal was cooked, so I directly mashed the dal in the pressure cooker. Mash the dal well. Some fine bits of whole chana dal are fine. Keep aside.
preparing the sweet stuffing for modak
In another pan take 1/2 cup tightly packed grated or chopped jaggery or jaggery powder and 1/4 cup water.
Keep the pan on stove top and on a low flame heat the solution. Stir so that the jaggery melts.
Simmer till all the jaggery is melted. Just melt the jaggery. No need to thicken the syrup.
Now through a strainer, filter the syrup and keep aside.
Now take the mashed chana dal in a pan. Add the jaggery syrup.
Then add 1/3 cup grated coconut.
Mix everything very well.
Keep the pan on stove top and on a low flame, cook this mixture.
On a low heat, stirring at times, cook the filling till it starts thickening.
The mixture will begin to leave the sides of the pan and become dry.
Thats the time when you need to switch off the flame. Do remember not to overcook the mixture as it will become dense.
Lastly add 1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder and mix well. Let this mixture cool down.
preparing the rice dough for modak
In a pan or vessel take 1.5 cups of water. Place it on a stove top on a medium to high flame.
Then add 1/4 teaspoon salt & 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil.
Allow the water to come to a rolling boil.
Reduce the flame and then add 1 cup rice flour gradually.
Quickly begin to stir and mix the flour with water. Mix very well and switch off the gas.
Cover the pan with a lid and keep for 4 to 5 mins.
Then transfer the mixture to a thali or plate or you can keep in the same pan.
Allow the dough to slightly cool down. Knead the dough while its still warm but take care not to burn your fingers.
The dough should be soft and smooth. Then cover the dough with a damp muslin or cotton cloth. Now allow the dough to rest for 10 to 12 mins.
assembling and stuffing the modaks
Later make small balls from the dough. They should be smooth. Some may get cracks, so just rub some water on your palm and shape them into balls again which will get rid of the cracks.
Grease the modak mould with a bit of oil. Close or lock the mould. Put the dough ball in the mould.
Press the dough along the surface of the mould, so that a cavity or space is made.
Add the chana dal stuffing.
Then cover with small piece of dough on top. Press to even it.
Now open or unlock the mould. Gently remove the modak from the mould. Alternatively you could flatten the ball. Then place the modak filling in the center. Make small pleats bring all the edges together and join. Prepare all the modaks this way.
Either you could use a steamer pan or you could steam the modaks in a pressure cooker for 8 to 10 mins on low flame without the whistle and vent. If using a steamer pan then add 2.5 cup of water to the steamer. Let the water come to a boil. Keep the modaks on a greased steamer plate or on greased idli moulds. Now place the moulds into the steamer pan.
Cover the pan with a lid and steam for 10 to 15 minutes on a low flame.
Once the modaks are steamed remove and keep aside.
The sweet kozhukattai are ready to be offered to lord ganesha.
- can add more jaggery if required. - chana dal can be soaked for an hour and then cooked. - you can also cook chana dal in a pan. Just soak the lentils for 1 hour and then cook them in a pot or pan with 1 to 1.5 cups water till they are softened.