Saturday, 27 April 2013

Gula Melaka Mothagam

Mothagam/modak is a type of Indian dessert made from rice flour and has a filling made from kadala parapu/bengal gram dhal, shredded coconut and jaggery. You can read about this Indian delicacy here

Like I said, mothagam, or more precisely the outer layer/skin of the mothagam is made from rice flour. However, lately while going through some recipes, it was recommended to use ready made idiyappam flour instead of plain rice flour for a much softer mothagam. I decided to give this a try since the last time I made mothagam using plain rice flour, it resulted in a slightly tough mothagam. Plus, instead of using jaggery for the filling, I tried experimenting with gula melaka (palm sugar).

First, I started by making the skin for the mothagam. To do this I boiled some water with oil and mixed the boiled water into the flour.

the mixed dough

Once you have brought together the dough, be mindful to cover it with a wet tea towel to prevent it from drying out.

After that, you can start on your pooranam/filling for the mothagams. To do this I started off with by cooking the dhal using a pressure cooker and then made it into a paste using a grinder.

kadala parapu paste

Then, I went on to work on the gula melaka which I acquired from my last trip to Melaka. This is pure gula melaka with no sugar added. Crushed it with a pestle before dissolving it.

block of gula melaka

crushed gula melaka

dissolve gula melaka with water in low heat

After the gula melaka has dissolved completely, strain it to remove impurities, if any. Reheat the strained gula melaka until frothy and subsequently add in the kadala parapu paste and the shredded coconut.

boil the gula melaka till frothy

stir in the dhal paste

stir in the shredded coconut

Then, stir in some powdered cardamom. I do this by taking a few cardamom and slightly crushing it using a mortar and pestle. Once the pod is open, remove the seeds inside and continue crushing the seeds until powdered.

crush cardamom to open the pod

powdered cardamom

Continue stirring the mixture till it becomes like a thick paste.


Start making balls from the dough and filling about the size of a lime.

Flatten the dough into a bowl like shape and place the filling in the middle and seal it at the top.

seal the top like this
Go on to steam the mothagams in a idli plate or steamer for about 10 minutes.

Be careful not to steam the mothagams to long to prevent it from drying out. Once cooked the skin of the mothagam would look shiny and slightly translucent.

cooked mothagams



For the outer layer/skin:

1 cup idiyapam flour/rice flour 
1 1/3 cup water
2 tsp oil
salt (if needed)

For pooranam/sweet filling:

1 cup kadala parapu/bengal gram dhal
1 cup gula melaka/jagerry
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder


1) Cook the dhal with about a cup of water in a pressure cooker till soft. I cooked it for about 15 minutes in an electrical pressure cooker. If you don't have a pressure cooker, soak the dhal for about 2 hours and boil it in a pan with water until its soft, but not mushy.

2) Make the cooked dhal into a paste using a blender or food processor. If you prefer a little texture in you filling, coarse grind the cooked dhal. Keep aside.

3) Boil 1 1/3 cup of water with oil and a bit of salt if needed. I didn't add any salt since the ready made idiyapam flour I used had salt added in it.

4) Add the boiled water to the flour and stir to make dough. Wait for a moment till the dough cools down a little and you can handle it with your hands. Grease your hands and knead the dough. Keep it aside, covered with a wet tea towel.

5) Start crushing the block of gula melaka into smaller pieces. Mine measured up to a little less than a cup. If you prefer much sweeter mothagams, you may increase the amount of gula melaka or jaggery you add.

6) Place the pieces of gula melaka in a pan and add water till the pieces are slightly immersed. Continue to heat the gula melaka till it is dissolved.

7) Once the gula melaka has completely dissolved, remove from heat and strain it to remove any impurities, if any.

8) Reheat the strained gula melaka syrup until it boils and becomes frothy. 

9) Once the syrup becomes frothy, add in the dhal paste, shredded coconut and cardamom powder and stir well without any lumps.

10)Keep stirring till the mixtures becomes like a paste like consistency. Remove from heat and let it cool till you can handle it with your hands.

11) Grease your hand with oil and make lime sized balls of the sweet filling and keep aside.

12) Now make lime sized balls of the dough. Make sure your hands are well greased.

13) Flatten the dough into a bowl like shape and place the filling inside and seal it at the top.

14) Steam the mothagams using a idli plate or steamer for about 10 minutes.


(a) Make sure your hand are greased well for every step to ensure smooth and soft mothagams.

(b) This recipe yield about 14 medium sized mothagams.

(c) If there is any leftover filling, refrigerate it in an airtight container.

(d) You make some seeyam/suzhiyan with those leftover filling.