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September 12, 2014

Elai Adai - Steamed rice sweet

Elai Adai is a Traditional sweet snack (Steamed sweet dumplings) wrapped in a banana leaf. Elai (leaf), adai (dumplings). Specially made in God's own country - Kerala (Keralam). 

In most of the homes especially the tamizh speaking brahmins settled in Kerala, it is a common snack item.  Banana leaf and coconut are easily available.

This beautiful looking steamed snack nicely parcelled in a green banana leaf is too inviting.

I remember, in my childhood days, when amma makes them, the flavour gently floated & reached my nostrils, made me drool badly.  I eagerly waited for her to open the traditional steamer and take out the parcels and handover to me.

When my first milk tooth fell, i was at my aunt's home. Those days, it was a practice that the elderly lady in the family will help extracting the shaking milk tooth. After it was extracted, the pain and blood scared me. She was making elai adais, that day. To cheer me up, she laughed and handed over a parcel to me saying "when a tooth is extracted, elai adai is made. Remember this day and everytime when your milk tooth falls ask amma for elai adai". Yes, elai adai, indeed made me forget all that pain and I had a sweet tooth then to relish those glossy looking yummy sweet adais.  Everytime when a tooth fell, I remembered that sweet incident.

The traditional recipe calls for ingredients viz., jackfruit, coconut, jaggery for the poornam (stuffing). Ladies were (and are!) so smart that they found a solution to make a seasonal stuff available in one form or the other, throughout the year (off seasons), which made them invent pickles and preserves.

During the season, fresh jackfruit pods are finely chopped and added to the coconut poornam (pooran). During off season, the preserve is used. 

There are some quick versions too available now a days which uses coconut, cardamom powder and sugar. But the flavour of jackfruit, jaggery and coconut can never be beaten. That is the power of authentic recipe!

Whatever the ingredient for Poornam (Puran) is, the banana leaf is the most important thing for 'eali' adai making, on which it is made and packed before steaming. The leaf give the adais a drool worthy look, yummy flavour & taste.

Let us get into the elai adai making.

you will need :-

  1. Banana Leaf (Plantain leaf) - 3 Nos.
  2. Raw Rice : 1 Cup
  3. Grated coconut - 1.5 Cups
  4. Jaggery - 1 Cup (or as per taste)
  5. Jack fruit Pods - 4-5 Nos. (If you use preserve, use 2-3 tbsp)
  6. Ghee - 1 tbsp
Preparation :-

  • Soak the raw rice for 2 hours and grind to a smooth paste. The consistency of the batter is thick but pouring (like a batter for Bajji )
  •  Wash the banana leafs and pat them dry. Switch on the gas and very lightly toast them on flame, so that they don't tear while folding. It becomes easy to handle.
  •  Dissolve jaggery in water (less than 1/4 cup of water), filter the impurities. 
  • Heat a wok, add the filtered jaggery water, grated coconut, jack fruit pieces (or preserve) and cook till the mixture thickens.  [If you are using the preserve, add the preserve to the coconut).
  • Add a tbsp of ghee (clarified butter) and mix well. Switch off the flame.
  • Pour water in a steamer and bring the water to boil

Elai adai making :-

  • Take a piece of plantain leaf (banana leaf/vazhai elai) and lay it flat on a working surface.
  • Take a laddle of batter, pour some on the leaf and spread it like a dosa (pancake)

  • Take a tbsp of poornam (prepared coconut stuffing) and place it on the middle. Very gently spread them a little.

  • Now fold the leaf carefully once and place them on the steamer

  • Close the steamer and steam the parcels for 10 minutes 
  • Open, let it cool a bit and serve the sweet along with the parcel.

 Sit back and relish the flavourful steamed sweet adais.

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