Ganesh Chaturthi also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi is the Hindu festival that reveres god Ganesha. A ten-day festival, it starts on the fourth day of Hindu luni-solar calendar month Bhadrapada, which typically falls in Gregorian months of August or September. The festival is marked with installation of Ganesha clay idols privately in homes, or publicly on elaborate pandals (temporary stage). Observations include chanting of Vedic hymns and Hindu texts such as Ganapati Upanishad, prayers and vrata (fasting). Offerings and prasada from the daily prayers, that is distributed from the pandal to the community, include sweets such as modaka believed to be a favorite of the elephant-headed deity. The festival ends on the tenth day after start, wherein the idol is carried in a public procession with music and group chanting, then immersed in nearby water body such as a river or ocean, thereafter the clay idol dissolves and Ganesha is believed to return to Mount Kailasha to Parvati and Shiva.
The primary sweet dish during the festival is modak. A modak is a dumpling made from rice or wheat flour, stuffed with grated coconut, jaggery, dried fruits and other condiments and steamed or fried. Another popular sweet dish is the karanji (karjikai in Kannada), similar to modak in composition and taste but in a semicircular shape. This sweet meal is called Nevri in Goa and is synonymous with Ganesh festival amongst the Goans and the Konkani diaspora.
In Andhra Pradesh and Telangana modak, laddu, vundrallu (steamed, coarsely-ground rice-flour balls), panakam (a jaggery-, black pepper- and cardamom-flavored drink), vadapappu (soaked moong lentils) and chalividi (a cooked rice flour and jaggery mixture) are offered to Ganesha. These offerings are known as naivedya, and a plate of modak traditionally holds 21 pieces of the sweet. In Goa, modak and a Goan version of idli (sanna) is popular.
The South Indian version, payasam or payasa, is an integral part of traditional South Indian meals. South Indian payasam also makes extensive use of jaggery and coconut milk in place of sugar and milk. This Undralla Payasam is made with rice balls in jaggery surup, which people used to offer to lord ganesha on Ganesh chaturthi. This is so delicious Payasam I ever had. Love the flavor of rice balls in creamy full fat milk. Check out the recipe below and Enjoyy the flavor.
1 cup of rice flour
1 1/4 cup of water
Few drops of oil
2.5 cups of milk
100 to 120 ml cup of sugar
1/8 tsp. green cardamom powder
2.5 Tbsp. Rice flour
3 to 4 tbsp Water to mix the rice flour
1. Add oil and Bring 1 1/4 cup of water to boil, set aside 1/4 cup in a bowl.
2. Add the rice flour and mix to get a ball. If needed use up 1/4 cup of water that is set aside.
3. When the temp slightly comes down, smear oil over your palms and knead it to a smooth dough.
4. Make small balls, as small as the size of a grape. Smear oil over your palms and roll your palms over these balls to grease them. Cover and set them aside till you steam.
5. Steam them for 5 minutes on medium high flame in a idli steamer or pressure cooker without weight.
6. Bring milk to a boil, Add sugar and stir till it melts. If using jaggery syrup don’t add it now.
8. Add the balls and let them cook on a medium flame for about 7 to 8 minutes.
9. Add cardamom powder. While the payasam boils, mix 2.5 tbsps. rice flour with 3 tbsps. Water.
10. Pour this in the payasam and cook on a low to medium flame till it thickens. Usually takes around 3 to 4 mins. Switch off the stove. If using jaggery syrup add it now and stir well.
Cool it completely and offer to the Lord.