Monday, September 5, 2011

Modak and Karanji

Modak and Karanji are sweet, coconut-filled, deep fried pastries commonly made in the month of September in India. They are said to be a favorite of Lord Ganesh.

Many a time, I have had modaks that are either so hard that you might just need a hammer to break into it or too chewy that you get a good jaw workout for free ! This recipe, however, makes the most amazing modaks . The cover is crispy, flaky and yet strong enough to hold the filling. And the filling has just the right amount of sweetness. Pop one of these in your mouth and you will be amazed at how the cover just dissolves to give way to the sweet coconutty goodness.

Karanji and modak are essentially the same thing assembled in different ways. It takes much longer to make modaks than karanjis because of the small size. So usually in many households, including mine, we make the customary 21 modaks and for the rest of the dough and filling, we make karanjis out of it. Karanjis are also be made during diwali or any special occasion.

Makes about 21 small bite-sized modaks and about 15 karanjis


For the Cover

1 3/4 cup all purpose four / maida
1/4 cup semolina flour / sooji
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup ghee
about 1/2 cup milk ( used 2% milk )

For the Coconut Filling

2 packed cups / 2 pkts / 340 gm frozen grated unsweetened coconut, thawed ( can also use fresh grated coconut )
1 heaped cup granulated white sugar
1/4 cup cashew pieces
1/4 cup pistachios, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 scant tsp cardamom powder

oil or ghee for deep frying




For the Cover
  •  In a medium sized mixing bowl, mix the all purpose flour, sooji ( semolina ) and salt together.
  • Add the ghee to the flour mixture and mix it all well together.
  • Now adding a little milk at a time, make a firm dough ( not too soft and not too hard ). I needed the full half cup of milk.
  • Set aside for at least half an hour before using.
For the Filling
  • In a medium saucepan, add the sugar, coconut, cashews, pistachios and raisins and cook it all over low to medium low heat till the most of the moisture is evaporated. This does require for you to stand close by and stir every often to ensure that it does not get burnt at the bottom. The end result will be a moist coconut filling that does not have any liquid dripping from it.
  • When this state is achieved, remove from heat, add the cardamom powder and let it cool to room temperature before use. 
For the Assembly
  • Heat oil or ghee in your deep fryer, wok or kadai.
  • For the Modak : Make slightly larger than small marble-sized round balls. These will be for the modaks. You can decide how many modaks you want to make.
  • Roll this as thinly as possible. I rolled mine to a diameter of 3 1/2 inches. Moisten the circumference of the circle by dabbing a little water on it.
  • Place a tsp or two of filling in the center. Gather up the edges and pinch them all together on top, enclosing the filling inside. Note : the filling should be properly sealed. If it oozes out when frying, you will get some black sticky residue in the oil which will leave its mark on all the consequent modaks that you fry in it ( just in case this happens, stop frying and sieve the residue out of the oil -  I use a tea strainer to do that ).
  •  Fry the modaks in medium hot oil till they turn golden brown in color.
  • For the Karanji : You can make these as big or as small as you want, though you might be restricted by the size of your deep fryer or kadai. I make puri-sized round balls ( about the size of large marbles ). Roll it out as thinly as possible. I rolled it to 4 1/2 - 5 inch diameter.
  • Moisten the circumference by dabbing a little water on it.
  • Place 1-2 tbsp of filling on one half of the circle. Fold the circle in half, sealing the filling within. You can use the front part of the fork to crimp the edges so that it both seals it properly and adds a decorative edge to it. Fry these half moon pastries in medium hot oil, till it is golden brown in color on both sides.
  • When cooled, store them in an air tight container at room temperature. Should be consumed in a week or so, that is, if it can stay that long.


    1. WOW! they look fantastic! thanks for the comment on my blog!


    2. Woww.. looks tempting and perfect.. simply inviting dear :)
      Indian Cuisine

    3. Never heard nor tried this dish before! They look scrumptious. I love the use of grated coconut as the filling