1. Boil the water in a pan. Add the salt and oil to the boiling water. Remove the pan from the burner and slowly add the ground rice, stirring continuously to avoid lumps. Put the lid on the pan. When the dough has cooled so the heat is bearable, apply a bit of oil to your hands and knead it until smooth. The dough should be firm not runny.
1. Grate the coconut from the inside of the kernel, not the outside to get the white coconut meat.
2. Put the grated jaggery, or brown sugar, and the grated coconut in a heavy-bottomed pan over low heat. Heat until the jaggery melts and the mixture turns a shade darker. After approximately 10 minutes some of the liquid will have evaporated. When you can smell the jaggery and coconut aromas, add the ground cardamom and cashews. Stir well. Turn off the heat after a few minutes.
1. Put a little oil on your hands before working with the dough. Form about 10 balls with the dough.
2. One by one, flatten the ball with your hand to form a circle. It should be about the size of your palm and as thin as you can make it without it falling apart. Place a spoonful of the filling in the center of the circle. Bring the sides of the dough to the top and seal it. You may want to pinch off some of the excess dough at the top so it looks like a small pointy mountain.
3. Repeat this process with the remaining balls of dough.
4. Put the modakams into a basket and steam for about 10 minutes.
1 cup rice flour
2 cups water
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp oil
1 cup jaggery, crumbled or brown sugar
1 cup coconut, grated
1/2 tsp cardamom, ground
1 Tbs cashews, ground
This stuffed dumpling, called Modakam, is an important sweet made for Vinayaka Chathurthi, the festival for Lord Ganesh. It is believed to be his favorite sweet.