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Friday, August 28, 2009

Elai Adai

Elai Adai is a simple Kerala delicacy my mom used to make in jackfruit season. And since my recent visit to India included the jackfruit season, and since we wanted to find a way to consume all the chakka varatti we made, this dish almost begged itself into existence :)

Basically, this can be roughly imagined as a sweet version of savory tamales, in principle. While tamales involve corn dough stuffed with minced savory meat, wrapped in corn husks and steamed, Elai Adai involves rice dough stuffed with jackfruit+jaggery+coconut mixture wrapped in banana leaves and steamed.

If Chakka Varatti is handy, this is rather easy to make for a lazy afternoon snack. Which is what my Athai (aunt, Dad's sister) did.

chakka varatti elai adai jackfruit jam dessert

Adjust the quantity of batter depending on how much filling is available. Extra batter can be allowed to ferment a day or so and made into Aapam. Extra filling, of course, can be eaten as-is, no wastage :)

Any questions/doubts, I'll gladly pass it along to my mom or Athai and try to post their response. The recipe here is rather vague about quantities as my Athai and mom don't believe in exact measurements in their cooking (neither do I, for that matter), but, that I guess is the strength of experience...

And I managed to take pictures of her finished product before these irresistible little packets disappeared forever into our tummies. Well, contents of the packets, I mean.

For the dough/batter:
Equal quantities (say ¼ cup each) of par-boiled rice and plain white rice
pinch of salt

For the filling:
For each cup of Chakka Varatti, use approximately ½ cup of grated coconut, or more to taste
Jaggery, optional, add to taste (I don't like the filling cloyingly sweet)

Steaming apparatus, Plantain/banana leaves cut into about 5"-6" squares approximately
Some oil

  1. Batter/Dough: Soak the rice in water for a few hours, grind to a fine paste, add a pinch of salt and keep handy, no need to ferment it like dosai batter. Note: the consistency of the dough is slightly thinner than pancake or dosai batter
  2. Filling: Combine the Chakka Varatti and grated fresh coconut in a pan and stir till well incorporated
  3. Gently heat the banana leaf over open flame to make them pliable, they will turn a darkish green, take care not to burn
  4. Grease the piece of banana leaf with some oil, spread a bit of the rice dough/batter
  5. Keep a piece of banana leaf handy for arranging the filling: scoop and drop a dollop of filing, carefully pat it down over the banana leaf, invert this over the other banana leaf with the batter spread on it and transfer the filling onto the dough carefully
  6. Carefully fold the assembled Elai Adai into a packet
  7. Prepare as many packets as possible with available ingredients and arrange them in a steamer; steam for about 10 minutes; the rice dough/batter will look almost translucent when done, with the rich brown filling showing through
  8. Unwrap the banana leaf and pop these steamed delicacies into the mouth for an amazing experience

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