To celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi, we’ve decided to launch the first part of a two-part modak trail. We revisit a few of Mumbai’s popular mithaiwalas and eateries that serve Lord Ganesha’s favourite food, to find out why devotees and foodies swear by their sweet spread
Modakam Madam to your rescue
Living in the neighbourhood of Prabhadevi’s Siddhivinayak Temple, Reshama Salkar could well qualify as one of the city’s super-heroines. Moonlighting as Modakam Madam (that’s the name she is known by), she wakes up at 3.30 am every morning, takes a bath and begins the process of making the traditional ukadiche modak, the Maharashtrian-style steamed dumplings made of rice flour and stuffed with a sweet mixture of jaggery, coconut and cardamom. These modaks then make their way to Modakam, a restaurant next to Siddhivinayak Temple, that’s a go-to eatery for most devotees who visit the temple.
Adding a twist to tradition, the 50-year old Modakam near Siddhivinayak temple at Prabhadevi also sells
made-to-order modak creations, like this BEST bus, that are completely edible. Pic/Tushar Satam
“Traditionally, these modaks are prepared by the women in the house. We have been sourcing our modaks from Modakam Madam since the last 10 years. She knows the proportions well and she shapes each modak by hand, without using a mould. Yet, each is of the same size.
On an average, we sell anything from 500 to 1,000 modaks per day,” beams 62-year-old Gopal Balgi, whose brother (Deepak Gaikar, 55) is the second-generation owner of Modakam. In existence for the last 50 years and started by his uncle, this restaurant is the only one in the city that serves this variety topped with ghee.
Traditional ukadiche modak at Modakam. Pics/Tushar Satam
“We keep the modaks par boiled. Based on the order, we steam them and serve them piping hot with a dollop of ghee. That just adds to the taste,” Balgi informs. Having started selling the modaks at a measly `8 per piece, today, they are priced at `25 and available throughout the year. “Our customers have never complained about the pricing because they know they are sure of our quality,” he asserts.
The unique made-to-order creations
Modak bus, anyone?
Apart from ukadiche modak, the restaurant has also been creating some innovative modaks since the last two years. With the mawa used in mawa modaks, this season, the restaurant has created BEST buses, the Mumbai Metro, architectural structures and even popular figurines like Minions and Chhota Bheem in the form of modaks! Completely edible, these made-to-order items, weighing around three-and-half kilos are priced at Rs 6,000 onwards. “It takes two workers about six hours to make each item. These are popular because they add a visual appeal in a Ganpati pandal. We’ve already started getting orders for these varieties, especially the Chhota Bheem ones. We will be making them only till Ganesh Chaturthi (the first day of the festival),” informs Balgi.
At: Modakam, 8/1, Kamana CHS, SK Bole Marg, near Siddhivinayak Temple, Prabhadevi.
Call: 30401011 (the made-to-order creations need to be ordered a day in advance)
Cost: Rs 25 per piece (for ukadiche modak)
75-year-old at work
Sitting at Adarsh Mithai Mandir’s kitchen in Grant Road, sporting a handlebar moustache, the 75-year-old Raju Devasi earnestly rolls out different varieties of modaks. He may be hard of hearing and not even understand any other language besides his mother tongue Gujarati, but Devasi can recite each step of the modak-making process in great detail.
The 75-year-old Raju Devasi moulds the modaks at Grant Road’s Adarsh Mithai Mandir
After all, he has been working in this sweet shop, established in 1951, for the last 50 years. “We don’t source the mawa used for making our modaks. Instead, we make it in-house,” smiles Devasi.
Kandi Malai Modak and Anjeer Modak
The shop’s owner, Bhupatbhai Thakker, informs, “From the traditional mawa modak to kaju, kesar, anjeer and even mango modaks, we sell close to 51 varieties. During Ganpati festival, we make around one tonne of modaks per day. Since the last few years, we have also been making sugarfree varieties and this year, we have created Cashew Crunch modak with pieces of cashew nuts,” adds Thakker.
At: Adarsh Mithai Mandir, 309, Javji Dadaji Marg, Nana Chowk, Grant Road.
Cost: Rs 680 to Rs 1,200 per kg
There are at least three shops named Panshikar in Dadar but when you ask pedestrians about the one where you get good modaks, you are immediately directed to Panshikar Bros near Dadar’s bustling Kabutar Khana.
The Mawa Modaks are Panshikar Bros’ specialty items
Established in 1928 by Sadashiv N Panshikar, the no-frills stand-alone sweet and farsan shop is now run by the family’s third generation. Serving pedas, barfis as well as popular Maharashtrian snacks, they are best known for their Mawa Modaks. Sticking to the traditional recipe passed on through generations, the bright-yellow coloured variety is made through the year in the shop’s in-house factory. During Ganpati season, the bulk increases to 100s of kilos. This is the only variety of modak that they serve and it has even made it as the 87-year-old shop’s logo.
At: Panshikar Bros, 384, Kelkar Road, near Kabutar Khana, Dadar (W).
Cost: Rs 560 per kilo
>> Gaurishankar Chitarmal Mithaiwala at Parel will stock Mawa Modak (Rs 320, all prices per kilo), Kaju Modak (Rs 600), Dryfruit Modak (Rs 760), Coconut Modak (Rs 320) and Motichur Modak (Rs 320), starting Monday.
At: Jagannath Bhatankar Marg, Parel.
>> Desai Bhaishankar Gaurishankar is said to have been in existence for around 100 years, with their first outlet at Kalbadevi and then expanding to CP Tank and recently, at Kandivali too. It is priced at Rs 520 per kg.
At: 178/180, Fanas Wadi, Kalbadevi.
>> Go beyond mawa and kaju and choose from rose, butterscotch, pista and even a tri-coloured (tiranga) modak at the main outlet of Morbiwala Sweet Mart. The prices start from Rs 480 per kilo.
At: Shop 1/2, Vikram Kunj, Tambe Nagar, SN Road, Mulund (W).
>> Opt for varieties like gulkand, mango, chocolate and even raspberry along with the traditional kesari variety of modaks (Rs 550-600 per kilo) at Chanderkar Sweets, that has been in existence since 1944.
At: Borkarwadi, near Waman Hari Pethe Jewellers, Ranade Road, Dadar (65276013) and Ashirwad, 262, Dr Annie Besant Road, Worli (65276012)
Ganeshotsav special: Take your own sweet time (Read more)
Designer delicacies for Lord Ganesha (Read more)