Ball-Like Sweets

Modaka (Ball-Like Sweets)

Ball-Like SweetsIngredients and Utensils 1 lb. rice flour 

2 cups jaggery (or 2 cups brown sugar with four tbsp. dark molasses added) 

2 cups raw sesame seeds 2 grated coconuts (optional) 

2 cups melted ghee or drawn butter 1 tsp. salt 

banana leaf or waxed paper a flour sifter or fine sieve 

an iddli or vegetable steamer Directions 

Roast the sesame seeds in a pan, without oil, until golden brown (5 to 10 minutes). Crack the seeds by rolling with a rolling pin or pounding. Add 4 tbsp. ghee to the jaggery to soften it, and then mix in the sesame seeds and coconut thoroughly. (This mix may be refrigerated in jars for making quick sweets simply by adding a bit of ghee and shaping the dough into balls.)  Next sift the rice flour and toast it without oil until it browns slightly — about 5 to 7 minutes. Spread it out on a tray or table top when done, and allow cooling completely. While the rice flour is cooling, bring approximately a half gallon of water, with a tsp. of salt, to a rolling boil. Put the cooled, toasted rice flour in a bowl and make a well in the middle. Slowly pour a small amount of the hot water into the well and begin working it into the rice flour with your hands. Keep adding small amounts of the hot water, and work the flour into a ball of dough. It should be moist but not wet when you put it out on the table or breadboard. Knead the dough thoroughly so it is even in moisture and texture. Next, place water in the bottom of the iddli steamer and bring to a full boil. Spread a thin coating of ghee or oil on a piece of banana leaf or waxed paper. Take a lump of dough half the size of a lime and work it in your hands for a moment to remove the air and then pat it out flat and round on the leaf, about as wide across as your palm. Make it a uniform thickness so it will cook evenly. Place a lump of the sesame-jaggery-coconut mixture into the center and wrap the dough up around the mixture. Pinch the dough into a cone-shape over the stuffing and wrap the leaf or paper up around it. (The modakas can also be round if desired.) Repeat until you have enough to fill your steamer. Place the assembled modakas in the steamer, spaced so as to not touch one another. Cover and steam until done (15 to 20 minutes). While they cook you can prepare the next batch. When cool enough to handle, dip the modakas in melted ghee. Now they are ready to offer.