Modaks are steamed or fried dumplings made from rice flour, wheat flour or maida and have fillings including grated coconut and jaggery. Modaks are generally offered to the idol and then served as Prasad to the devotees. Steamed modaks are also known as Ukadiche Modak and are slathered with hot ghee before savouring it.Modak is also known as Kozhakattai in Tamil, Modhaka or Kadubu in Kannada and Kudumu in Telugu.
Why are 21 Modaks offered to the Deity?
It is believed that once when Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati along with Lord Ganesha visited Anusuya, who was the wife of an ancient Rishi (sage) named Atri, at her home in the forest. Lord Shiva and Ganpatiji were way too hungry. While Lord Shiva waited for Anusuya to serve food, she refused and asked him to wait till Bal Ganesh's hunger was satiated. Controlling his hunger, Lord Shiva waited while Anusuya served varieties of delicacies to the child. A voracious eater, Ganpati ate all that he was served and asked for more and more. Everyone was astonished to see his insatiable hunger.
Finally, Anusuya realized that these foods wouldn't fill his stomach but something sweet may. She gave him a piece of sweet and once he ate the sweet, Ganesh burped loudly. That's when his stomach was full and he no longer felt hungry. Interestingly, the moment Ganesh burped, Lord Shiva also burped not once but 21 times. Both of them simultaneously claimed that they had their fill and did not want any more food. Goddess Parvati later asked Anusuya about the sweet she had served, that's when she got to know about modak. Goddess Parvati then expressed a wish that devotees of Ganpati will always offer 21 modaks to him. The story may or may not be true but we are thankful for the creation of such a wonderful delight.