A savoury modak is usually associated with Ganesh Chaturthi or a devi pooja in a traditional Tamilian kitchen (without it, our naivedya would be incomplete). But there is no reason why these super healthy dumplings shouldn’t be made the rest of the year. They are a great way to combine rice and dal. And you don’t have to stick to urad dal, the traditional ingredient – you can also make them with chana dal, moong dal or a combination of these.

  • Serves


  • Cook Time


    Plus prep time of 30 minutes


For Dough

  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 1 tsp sesame seed oil
  • 1¼ cups water
  • Salt to taste
  • Wet muslin or table cloth

For Stuffing

  • ½ cup urad dal
  • 2 green chillies (or according to preference)
  • 1/8 tsp turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste
  • A few drops of sesame oil
  • Water

For Tempering

  • ¼ cup grated coconut
  • 1 tsp sesame seed oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 6 to 8 curry leaves, slivered or finely chopped
  • A pinch of asafoetida


For Dough

  1. Boil water with ½ tsp oil and salt. Add rice flour, little by little, and keep mixing until the flour is over and it resembles dough. Cover and keep aside for 10 minutes.
  2. While it’s still warm, knead into a soft smooth dough, incorporating the remaining oil. Keep covered in a wet muslin cloth until required.

For Filling

  1. Soak urad dal in water for half an hour or until it swells up.
  2. Drain excess water and grind the dal along with green chillies, salt and turmeric into a thick but smooth paste. Don’t use water while grinding.
  3. Divide this thick paste into equal portions and shape into balls. Place these in greased idli moulds or a plate and steam for 10 minutes or until a toothpick, if inserted, comes out clean.
  4. Remove and keep aside to cool. Crumble the steamed lentil balls with your fingers until they resemble breadcrumbs. Keep aside.
  5. Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds. Once it crackles, toss in the curry leaves and asafoetida, followed by the crumbled mixture and grated coconut. Mix well.
  6. Adjust salt and take it off the flame. Keep aside to cool.

For Modak

  1. Divide the modak dough into equal sized roundels. Shape each roundel into a cup and stuff it with a portion of urad dal mixture. Seal and shape into crescents, quite like karanji.
  2. Place the stuffed crescents into greased moulds and steam in a hot steamer for 10-12 minutes or until done.
  3. Remove from flame and serve hot.
Preetha Srinivasan

Preetha Srinivasan

A champion of the cuisines of South India, Preetha Srinivasan runs the popular YouTube channel Dakshin Curry. A graduate of the Institute of Hotel Management in Mumbai, Srinivasan has worked as a chef at The Orchid and Hilton Towers, Mumbai. She has also worked on culinary shows like ‘MasterChef India’ and ‘Food Food Amul Mahamuqabla’.

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