One of the main reasons why I have been able to stay grain free(largely!) for the last 4 1/2 years is because I try to create grain free versions of my comfort foods. My comfort foods are the foods that I grew up with. I was born and raised in Mumbai, which is western India but my parents were both originally from Kerala, which is southern India. Hence I got the best of both worlds in terms of exposure to foods!
Many regional Indian foods with the exception of some popular ones, are local only to that region and it’s hard to find them outside of those regions. However, there are some foods that are available in slightly different forms in different parts of India. One such food is this dumpling which is made from rice flour dough and stuffed with sweetened coconut. This dumpling is made as an offering to Lord Ganesha for his birthday in western India.The coconut-jaggery stuffing and rice dough are made separately. Then portions of the rice dough are shaped in a ball, flattened and then filled with the stuffing. The edges of the flattened rice dough is then pleated, folded and shaped to make a beautiful fluted dumpling what we call as Modak. A similar kind of dish is also made in kerala called as Kozhukutta which has a slightly different shape.
I have been meaning to try making a grain free version of Modak using cassava flour. And finally was able to develop this recipe after trying it a couple times. The resulting recipe was actually softer than the traditional ones made using rice flour! My husband loved this version better!
These dumplings need to be steamed. I use a make shift steamer using a stainless steel mesh(sieve) on top of a saucepan with water and then cover with a lid. You can also use the steamer insert in an Instant pot. See pic below.
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 2 cups shredded coconut (or fresh grated coconut)
- ¼ cup coconut sugar
- 2 tbsp water
- pinch sea salt
- ¼ tsp cardamom powder (omit for AIP)
- 1 to 2 tbsp tiger nut flour (optional)
- ¾ cup cassava flour ( I only use Otto's or Antony's Goods Premium)
- 2 tbsps arrowroot starch/flour
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- About 1 cup hot water
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil
- Heat a stainless steel saute pan and when hot add the oil. Then add the shredded coconut, coconut sugar and water. Stir on low heat for 4-5 mins until all the coconut sugar liquefies and you get a wet mixture. Add the cardamom (if adding) and the tiger nut flour (if adding) and the salt. Stir to mix well and keep aside to cool.
- Place a sauce pan or kettle with water and bring to a boil. Keep it on very low flame until needed in recipe below.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the flours and salt. Then turn the hot water off and measure the quantity of hot water needed. Add this hot water in two or three portions into the mixing bowl and stir well each time. Continue adding the hot water until all the dough is wet and you don't see any dry flour. The dough will be very warm so cover the bowl with a lid and keep aside for 5 mins to cool.
- Then open the bowl and add the oil and slowly knead the dough using your hands until you get a smooth and soft dough.
- Divide the dough into 6 equal size balls and roll each ball using a rolling pin to form a 8 inch dia circle. Then use a round shaped cookie cutter or the rim of a glass to cut out small rounds.
- Take each round and and place about 1-2 tsp of the sweet coconut mixture in the center (depending upon how big your round is) leaving about ¼ inch margin on the edges for sealing.
- Dab water on the edges using your finger and then seal the edges together forming folds like pleats while sealing to get the modak shape. You can also seal them into half moons (like empanadas).
- Finish making all the modaks this way.
- Place the modaks on a steamer insert and steam for about 8 minutes on medium heat. I use a stainless steel large mesh on top of a saucepan with water and then cover with a lid. You can also use the steamer insert in an Instant pot.
If you liked this recipe, check out my cookbook ‘AIP Indian Fusion’ which has 114 AIP compliant recipes that are based on traditional Indian recipes!