A translucent cover, showing a hint of the coconut jaggery is the mark of a good modak, says Pia Promina Dasgupta Barve
Making modaks, even if you’re using a mould, is a fine art, says Mumbai-based Pia Promina Dasgupta Barve, who perfected the skill after she married into a Maharashtrian family. “It’s very important that the outer skin is thin and it’s not easy to gauge this when you use a mould, so it takes years of practice,” says Barve, an ace baker and patissier, who is also a food researcher, “I’ll be using coconuts from our farm because they are really moist, which is great for the filling.” What has really surprised Barve is the number of orders that she has been receiving from traditional Maharashtrian families in Dadar. “I’m very happy but can’t believe that there have been this many orders from Marathi homes,” she says with a laugh, “I thought I was an outsider.”
Besides made-to-order modaks, Barve has lined up quite an elaborate Kokanastha Brahmin meal, native to the community also known as Chitpavan Brahmins who are known for their terrific vegetarian fare. “It’s just homemade, not so elaborate,” she insists. But the meal includes 10 dishes, besides the rice, puris, papad and pickle. This is the second time that Barve is cooking what she calls the Ganapati Saathi Gharghuti Bhojan, which includes Kokanastha delicacies such as aaluchi patal bhaji, a curry of colocasia leaves with peanuts flavoured with tamarind, gur and besan, bharleli parwar, which is spicy and tangy stuffed snake gourd, and matkichi usal, a piquant, sprouted moth beans gravy. “I made this meal for the first time last year because there are no vegetarian thalis available here but only Malwani thalis or other non-vegetarian thalis. So the meal is actually a tribute to my Maharashtrian family.”
Her family is also her biggest critic, says Barve. “I know I’ve got the modak right when my husband pops it whole in his mouth.”
You can place separate orders for just modaks or order the Kokanastha Brahmin takeaway meal for Rs 750 (which includes two modaks) by calling 9920370638 /9322210638. The pickup points for the modaks and the meal is Bandra West, off SV Road.