Modaks to tarts: Here are some innovative recipes to try this festive season

Every year, Ganeshotsav is celebrated with full festive fervour and with food being an important part of every festival in India, this one is no different. While modaks, being a favourite of Lord Ganesha, are really popular, halwa, shrikhand and kheer are not far behind and loved by all. As most of us have grown up eating them, we may often want to try out new variations, and that is why reached out to Indian chefs from all over Mumbai and India to share their innovations with these traditional dishes. For others, who worry about gaining weight, there are a lot of alternative options that chefs believe shouldn’t stop you from celebrating and worshipping Lord Ganesha.

With their experimentations in full swing, these chefs have not only shared recipes for chocolate modaks but have also added coconut to it, and even encased rabri in lavender and saffron to serve with it. They have even taken the liberty of converting rabdi into a mousse, to serve it with gulab jamuns, with a helping of saffron gel. In fact, why stick to modaks? They encourage you to eat more than one bowl of plain shrikhand, by making a trio in the form of bite-sized tarts. While these are all rich and indulgent, we also have another healthy version of a halwa, and that means everybody can enjoy and revel in the spirit of Ganesh Chaturthi this year.

Chocolate Coconut Modak
Keeping the love for the classic modak in mind, chef Amandeep Singh, executive sous chef at The Westin Mumbai Garden City elevates the traditional modak by not only giving it a twist with chocolate but also adds some coconut to it. He shares, “The chocolate not only enhances the flavour but also adds a delightful surprise to every bite. The blend of chocolate and coconut creates a harmonious balance of sweet and nutty flavours, making these chocolate coconut modaks a perfect fusion for your Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations.” 

Desiccated coconut 1 cup
Sweetened condensed milk 1/2 cup
Semi-sweet chocolate chips 1/2 cup
Cardamom powder 1/2 tsp
Ghee (clarified butter) 1 tbsp
A pinch of salt
Modak moulds or your hands to shape the modaks 

1. Heat a non-stick pan over low heat. Add the ghee and let it melt.
2. Add the desiccated coconut to the pan and roast it for a few minutes until it turns slightly golden and aromatic.
3. Now, add the sweetened condensed milk and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and starts to leave the sides of the pan.
4. Remove the mixture from the heat and allow it to cool slightly.
5. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate chips in a microwave or using a double boiler until smooth.
6. Divide the coconut mixture into two portions. Mix one portion with melted chocolate and the other portion with cardamom powder.
7. Grease your modak moulds or hands with a little ghee.
8. Take a small portion of the chocolate-coconut mixture and press it into one side of the mould, making sure to create a hollow center.
9. Fill the hollow centre with the cardamom-coconut mixture.
10. Seal the modak by pressing both halves of the mould together firmly. If you`re shaping them by hand, use your fingers to create a modak shape.
11. Repeat this process for the remaining mixture.
12. Allow the modaks to cool and set for a few hours.

Lavender and Saffron Rabri encased, perched atop with nutty chocolate modak
Isn`t it impossible to imagine Ganesh Chaturthi without modaks? If you want to innovative with the classic modak, then just like Singh, chef Paul Noronha, who is the executive chef at ITC Grand Central says you should definitely elevate the much-loved sweet. The chocolate-flavoured modak combines perfectly well with the rabdi that is encased in lavender and saffron, producing flavours that will leave you delighted with every bite. He explains, “With the continuously evolving taste and demands of the guests, we feel such innovation works wonders. Desserts provide a sense of comfort, playfulness and fun. These flavours evoke positive memories. Traditional flavours are continuously being challenged by the younger generation with a broader definition of desserts.” 


For rabdi encasing:
Full fat milk 1 litre
Sugar 150 gm
Lavender flower
Agar agar 
Chocolate modak:
Marzipan 100 gm
Cocoa powder 100 gm
Roasted nuts as per choice 
Saffron glaze
Condense Milk 200 ml
White chocolate 300 gm
Sugar 150 gm
Water 150 ml
Agar agar 7 gm
Glucose 300 gm 


1. Take 1 litre full fat milk.
2. Add sugar into it.
3. Reduce the milk to 250 ml until it thickens.
4. Keep it aside. 

Rabdi encasing:
1. When the rabdi is warm, add agar agar and slowly cook further.
2. Divide it into two portions.
3. In one portion, mix lavender flowers and saffron in the other portion.
4. Pour both the portion in a mould and let it set for 30-40 minutes. 

Saffron glaze
1. In a pan, take condense milk.
2. Add sugar, water and glucose and cook together.
3. Add agar agar and take it of the flame and add saffron into it. 
Nutty chocolate modak:
1. In the marzipan, add cocoa powder.
2. Mix it well and add nuts of choice.
3. Mould the mixture into a shape of a modak. 

1. Take the lavender rabdi encased and place saffron encased on top of it and let it set.
2. Then pour the saffron glaze on to it and let it set.
3. Place the nutty chocolate modak on top of it.
4. Garnish with silver vrak and pistachio.

Trio Shrikhand Tarts
Shrikhand is everybody’s favourite during this time of the year. While the traditional form is the best, chef Bhairav Singh, who is the executive chef at Native Bombay says you can indulge in not one but three versions of it with the Trio Shrikhand Tarts that is served at the city restaurant. He explains, “Shrikhand is native to Maharashtra where it is widely made during festivals due to its quick and easy recipe. The thought process highlights adding a touch of modernity accompanied by tantalising flavours of saffron, thandai, chocolate, which do not break the traditional taste. Another factor that adds to the creativity of this dish is that the major three elements – thandai, chocolate and khus, make a beautiful combination of colours which gives the dish an appealing presentation. Though we have used khus syrup here, one can make Shrikhand with any fresh berries or pulp owing to its versatility with no limits in terms of ingredients or flavours.” 

Khus Ki Shrikhand
Hung curd 200 gm
Caster Sugar 50 gm
Cardamom Powder 1 tsp
Khus Syrup 50 ml 

1. Beat the hung curd with caster sugar in a mixing bowl by the whisker and make a flowing consistency.
2. Add khus syrup and cardamom powder, mix it properly and transfer to a bowl.
3. Keep it in the refrigerator.

Thandai Shrikhand 
Hung Curd 200 gm
Caster Sugar 50 gm
Cardamom Powder 1 tsp
Thandai Paste 50 gm
Saffron water 10 ml 

1. Beat the hung curd with caster sugar in a mixing bowl by the whisker and make flowing consistency.
2. Add thandai paste, saffron water and cardamom powder, mix it properly and transfer to a bowl.
3. Keep it in the refrigerator. 

Chocolate Shrikhand 

Hung curd 200 gm
Caster sugar 100 gm
Cardamom powder 1 tsp
Chocolate syrup 50 ml 

1. Beat the hung curd and caster sugar in a mixing bowl by the whisker and make a flowing consistency.
2. Add chocolate syrup and cardamom powder, mix it properly and transfer to a bowl.
3. Keep it in the refrigerator. 

For Tart: 

Refined flour 225 gm
Butter 150 gm
Icing sugar 75 gm
Milk 45 ml 

1. Mix all the ingredients into a mixing bowl and make smooth dough.
2. Open the dough through a rolling pin and make a little thick sheet.
3. Cut the dough with a roundel mould and place into the tart mould and set with the fingertip.
4. Bake all the tarts into a preheated oven at 160 degrees Centigrade for 20 minutes.
5. Remove from the oven and cool down and demould the tart.
6. Fill each tart with different flavours of shrikhand through a piping bag.
7. Serve cold and garnish with chopped dry nuts. 

Gulab Jamun with Rabdi Mousse & Saffron Gel
Love eating Gulab Jamuns? Chef Jagdish Naidu at Ishaara in Mumbai says one can take this very love for the Indian sweet by putting on their chef`s hat to add an elaborate touch to it. At the restaurant, they serve gulab jamun with rabdi mousse and saffron gel. The delicious combination of gulab jamuns, sugar syrup and the rabdi mousse with saffron gel, has a familiar sweetness with a touch of grand festivities. He shares, “A warm gulab jamun with a light cold rabdi is best thing to have during Ganesh Chaturthi.” 

Gulab Jamun
Khoya 100 gm
Cardamom powder 1/2 tsp
Baking powder 1/4 tsp 
 Milk 50 gm
Flour 2 tbsp
Ghee as needed for frying 
Sugar syrup
Sugar 1 1/2 cup
Water 1 cup
Cardamom powder 1/2 tsp
Lemon 1 no

Rabdi Mousse
Milk 100 gm
Cream 25 gm
Milkmaid 20 gm
Cardamom 1 gm
Saffron a pinch. 
Saffron Gel
Water 30 gm
Sugar 30 gm
Saffron 1 gm 

Gulab jamun
1. In a mixing bowl, stir khoya, flour, cardamom powder and then baking powder together. Then pour milk little by little and make dough soft. 

Sugar syrup
1. Mix all ingredients and bring it boil in a saucepan. 

Rabdi Mousse
1. In a saucepan, add milk and cream bring it to boil then add milkmaid to it. At the end, add cardamom and saffron. 

Saffron Gel
1. In a saucepan, add sugar, water and later add saffron. 

Gluten Free Atta Ka Halwa
If you are worried about eating rich food during the festive season, then chef Raveena Taurani, founder of city-based Yogisattva Cafe says one can enjoy the classic Indian halwa but with a gluten-free twist. Taurani also promises that she has kept the sugar in check with this recipe. She shares, “This halwa is a perfect option for Ganesh Chaturthi without the guilt of the excess sugar. The amount of sugar I have used is perfect for a serving among four people so you can enjoy the dish guilt-free. The idea is to indulge during the festive season but mindfully using clean, nutritious and wholesome ingredients.” 

Water 1 1/2 cups
Sweetener of choice (Jaggery/coconut sugar/brown sugar) 180 gm
Golden raisins 2 tbsp
Sunflower oil 4 tbsp
Sorghum flour 100 gm
Almonds, roughly chopped 2 tbsp
Cardamom powder 1/2 tsp
Ground pistachio for garnish 

1. In a medium-sized pot add water, sweetener of choice, and raisins. Bring this mixture to a boil and gently simmer while prepping the remaining ingredients.
2. In a separate heavy-bottomed pan, heat sunflower oil over medium-high heat. Add the flour and mix well.
3. Cook for 7-8 minutes, mixing continuously to prevent the mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning.
4. Add almonds and cardamom. Mix well.
5. Keep stirring the mixture for another two minutes till it starts to pull away slightly from the sides of your pan. It will be aromatic.
6. Turn your heat to high, and with the lid of the pan handy, very carefully pour your water mixture into the pot with the oil and flour mixture. Everything will initially steam and splash up, so be ready to cover it with a lid. As it calms down, keep mixing it well. Cook for another 5 minutes until your flour mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan.
7. Turn the heat off, put the lid on the pan and let your halwa sit for 5 – 10 minutes to settle.
8. Garnish with ground pistachio, almonds and edible flowers and eat warm as a dessert. 

Makhana aur Badam ki kheer
At Araiya Palampur, chef Rinku Yadav, who is the culinary artisan at the property innovates with the classic kheer to make one by using makhana. He suggests keeping the Makhana aur Badam ki Kheer, also known as Fox nut and almond pudding, for prasadam too. He explains, “For Ganesh Chaturthi, we have our satvik menu with this vegan delight. We have incorporated almond milk and fox nuts with palm jaggery (natural sugar). The dish is sugar-free and gluten-free too.” 

Almond milk 500 ml
Raw Fox nut 50 gm
Coconut oil 20 ml
Palm jaggery 80 gm
Cardamom powder 2grm
Pistachio, chopped 10 gm for garnish
Vegan silver leaves 2 nos for garnish 

1. Heat the almond milk in a thick-bottomed pan to reduce it to half of its quantity.
2. Heat coconut oil and toast makhana or fox nuts in a skillet; powder one-third of the quantity and add it to the milk to cook and thicken to keep consistency; the rest is kept for garnish and topping the pudding.
3. Add palm jaggery for sweetness on low flame (high flame may cause the curdling due to
chemical changes), add more cardamom powder.
4. To plate, we recommend the brassware for Indian cuisine.
5. We garnish it with coconut toasted fox nuts, silver leaf fragments and pistachio.
6. Serve warm to hot temperature depending on preferences. 

Also Read: Ganesh Chaturthi 2023: The ultimate Ganpati décor guide in Mumbai

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *