Elai adai is a traditional kerala dish made on special occasions. Rice batter is stuffed with sweet filling of coconut, jaggery, jack fruit, folded in banana leaf and steamed to perfection. Some people also call it "Valsan". I did not have fresh jack fruit and hence used a table spoon of chakka varatti which I got from India. You can omit this jack fruit and just do with coconut alone. I added some cashews just to give a nice texture and crunch to the poornam. You can see the display of my sweet at the contest, as I did not have time to take close up pictures.
I recently participated in a desert contest where the ingredient that need to be used was rice. I made elai adai and it came out very well and liked by many. I got this recipe from my chithi/ aunt and would like to thank her for encouraging me to do this. One can also use savory filling instead of he sweet one. I made one with sauted onions, corn and zucchini and steamed in banana leaf and it was yummy too.
To make the rice batter
- 1/2 cup raw rice ( ponni raw rice)
- 1/2 cup parboiled rice ( puzhungal arisi)
Soak the rice in water for at least 3-4 hrs. drain the water and grind them into a very smooth batter without much water. set aside. The batter should be like the consistency of pancake / idli batter.
Take a tbsp of the batter and add 3-4 tbsp of water in a vessel. Cook on a low flame stirring till the thin rice batter water mix becomes a thick paste or " kanji" like. See the consistency of the batter in the picture.
Let it cool completely and add it to the rice batter. whisk it well without any lumps and set aside. This step will help your outer covering of the adai stay soft for a long time.
To make the poornam /stuffing
- 1 cup grated jaggery/ vellam
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 cup freshly grated coconut
- 1 tsp cardamom powder
- 2 tbsp whole cashews, broken into small bite size pieces, roasted golden in ghee
- 1 tsp ghee
let the jaggery melt, strain the mixture to remove any dirt.
Return the jaggery water mixture to the stove and let it come to a frothing boil and thick.
Add a drop of the frothing " paagu" to a small bowl of water, you should be able to make a small ball, which will be like the consistency of slime.
Add the coconut, cardamom, cashew pieces and ghee and cook till the stuffing is sticky but also leaves the side of the pan. Turn the heat off & set aside. you can add 1tbsp chakka varatti at this point and mix. This step is optional. Now the poornam is ready.
To make the adai
Banana leaves rectangular pieces at least 20- 25 cm long. If the leaves are older, it is better to fold them. if you have fresh leaves, just show them on the flame of your gas stove. This is called " elaya vattaradhu". This step will make the leaves more pliable to fold.
Add a small ladle of the rice batter at the center of the banana leaf. Spread it thinly like a small dosa. This is called " maavu ezhudharadhu".
Add a spoon of the poornam to one side of the rice batter.
Fold the banana leaf in half. Fold the all sides and flip and keep them aside with the folded side down.
Arrange these in a idli plate and steam in the cooker (without weight) for 20 mins. Once steamed, the banana leaf will change color. You can see how I had folded the leaf. By this, the poornam get smeared all over the rice flour.
Once cool, open the leaf packet and enjoy the elai adai. It will taste so good with the smell of banana leaf, jaggery, coconut etc.