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It would not be blasphemous to say that most of us here in Pune look forward to the advent of the Ganesh festivities every year less for the religious, and more for the exciting gastronomic (read: modak!) potential it holds. With the celebrations drawing to a close soon, it is safe to assume that everybody has had more than their share of the ‘ukadiche modak’. Perhaps, it is now time to explore variants of everybody’s favourite desi sweetmeat that eateries around town have come up with.
The Urban Foundry, for instance, has been whipping up a decadent chocolate modak, albeit not in its usual peda form, but deep-fried – imagine a flaky choux pastry topped and doused, oozing with velvety hazelnut mousse to add a sinful dose of culinary fusion to the festive season. They are also doing the traditional version with a bit of a twist – here, the sweet dumpling comes served on a fluid bed of mellow coconut rabdi and topped with a crispy caramel tuile.
Tales & Spirits is doing a gourmet steamed modak platter, which presents the fat, coconut-jaggery-stuffed rice pouch in four different flavours. Essentially a riotously colourful array of modaks in blueberry, hazelnut, baklava and banoffee (!) varieties, this comes with a special accompaniment of dollops of sinful vanilla ghee – ingenious.
One of the city’s oldest sweet shops, Chitale Bandhu Mithaiwale, has also been offering a wide range of takes on the modak for the last few years – right from fruity options such as strawberry and mango to desserty ones such as mava (thickened milk) and butterscotch, they have gone all out with their experimentation. Similarly, The Bakehouse is taking orders for choco-coconut and choco-fig-honey modaks, while home chef Dipali Bawiskar rustles up modaks abounding with the crunch of dry fruits such as almonds and cashew nuts and even cornflakes!
Finally, to solve the very Indian post-dinner dilemma of “dessert or paan?”, the swanky Shaukeens paan shop has invented a rather innovative leafy modak packed with roasted dry fruits, pure ghee and paan crush stuffing. So, go get your fix of Lord Ganesh’s beloved sweet before the season ends.