Combine coconut and jaggery and heat over medium heat.
Keep stirring for 15 minutes until jaggery is completely melted and the mixture is moist.
Add cardamom powder, roasted poppy seeds and 1 teaspoon rice flour to it and cook for a minute.
Avoid overcooking else the mixture starts drying out.
This is called the stuffing for Modaks.
Now turn off the heat and let the mixture cool.
For the cover (Ukad):
The dough for the cover is called Ukad in Marathi.
For this, boil 1 1/2 cup of water.
As water starts bubbling, turn the heat to low, add ghee, oil, salt and quickly add rice flour. Stir well.
Cover for 2 minutes.
Remove the lid and mix properly.
Turn off the heat.
Turn out the mixture into a deep dish/plate.
Knead it properly while hot.
Keep pressing the mixture with the bottom of a flat bowl to knead it.
This releases the lumps easily as well as keeps your hands from burning.
This mixture should be sticky to the touch.
Gather into a soft pliable dough.
For the modaks:
Modak making is a little tricky and needs lots of patience and practice. Here is how you work on it:
Divide the dough into equal sized balls.
While working on one ball, keep the rest covered under a damp cloth.
Take one ball and make an impression in the middle with your thumb to make it look like a small cup.
With the thumb still inside and rest of the fingers pointing downwards along the outer side of the cup, gradually shape it into a bowl, alternately rotating between your thumb and the rest of the fingers until it is nice and thin.
You may dip your fingers in water and oil to make the rotating easier.
Alternatively, skip this step and simply roll out the ball into a 3 inch diameter circle, hold it in your hand to form a bowl
Spoon some stuffing into the center of the bowl.
Dip thumb and index finger in water and make small pinches side by side all along the outer surface of the bowl.
Gather the periphery at the top and join to form a peak.
The pleated shape looks like a whole garlic.
Trim off the excess part of the peak.
Seal cracks (if any) with some dough.
Similarly, shape rest of the balls.
Dip the bottom of each modak into water (This helps to lift them out easily as they are done) and arrange them in a modak steamer.
Or if steamer is not available, heat some water in a big vessel.
Spread a damp cloth in a sifter and arrange all modaks on it.
Place the sifter in the vessel with a stand/small pot half filled with water under it and cover with a lid.
Else, you can also use pressure cooker (without whistle) for steaming.
Steam for 20 minutes or until the cover is cooked through.
1. Modaks are to be served fresh with ghee on top.
2. Sieve the rice flour twice to avoid getting cracks in the modak.
3. Add 1 tsp milk to the water for making cover. This helps modak retain their white color.
4. Add nuts (in crushed form) of your choice to the filling.
5. Store leftover dumplings for not more than 2-3 days in the fridge; steam again just before serving.
For the filling:
2 cups shredded fresh coconut
1 cup jaggery, (or a little more to adjust the sweetness if the jaggery is not sweet enough)
1 teaspoon roasted poppy seeds
1 teaspoon rice flour
For the cover (Ukad):
1 1/2 cup rice flour
1 1/2 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoon ghee
1/2 teaspsoon oil
A pinch of salt