Ela ada or elayappam is a very healthy and popular snack recipe from Kerala usually served as an evening snack with tea. It is easily available in all tea shops or chaya kada and bakeries in Kerala.
Basically, a thin rice pancake (ada) is filled with a sweet coconut filling and steamed in banana leaves (ela). Hence the name ela ada.
My first experience of this snack was at a relative’s house in Kannur Kerala, when I was a kid. It was raining heavily and I still cherish the experience of having the ela ada right out of the hot steamer.
Though coconut and jaggery remain the most popular filling, it can be replaced by jackfruit and jaggery too, which is first made into a jam called chakka varatti.
The ada can also be made out of wheat flour, though I have always made it with rice flour. Steaming in banana leaves makes the preparation more flavorful.
It is very similar to the modak recipe that we make for Vinayakar Chaturthi, except that here the filling is not cooked.
But some people cook the filling, before spreading. Either way, it tastes good. I have done it both ways, though I prefer this one.
This is a very easy preparation for the ‘naalu mani palaharam’ or 4’o clock snacks. Make it for your kids when they return from school and they will love it.
Over to the recipe….
For the dough
- 1 cup store-bought rice flour
- 1 tsp oil
- water as needed (I needed 1¼ cups)
- salt as needed
For the filling
- ½ cup grated coconut (packed)
- ¼ cup grated jaggery (packed)
- 1 tsp ghee
- ½ tsp cardamom powder
- a pinch of nutmeg powder
- a pinch of ginger powder
- 6 pieces banana leaves
- ghee for greasing the leaves
- water as needed for steaming
- Keep the flour ready in a wide-mouthed container. Heat up around 1½ cups of water with the required salt to boiling point.
- Once the water boils turn off the stove and add the water little by little to the rice flour to make a soft and pliable dough.
- Add the oil and knead for a few minutes. Keep it aside covered with a wet cloth to prevent drying.
- Make the filling by mixing all the ingredients given under ' For filling' preferably with the hand and keep aside.
- Wash and wipe the banana leaf pieces and keep them ready. Heat up the steamer.
- Take a banana leaf and grease it with ghee or oil. Take a small lemon-sized ball of the dough and spread it on the leaf to a thin round pancake.
- Layer the filling on 1 half of the dough and carefully cover it with the other half, by lifting the banana leaf and closing it.
- Repeat with the other leaf pieces and steam for 10-12 minutes in the steamer.
- Turn off when done and serve with evening tea or with breakfast.
- Add enough water to make the dough soft and pliable.
- Spread the dough as thinly as possible on the banana leaf. This helps in cooking faster as well as tastes good.
- The jaggery was perfect for this quantity of coconut. You can taste and add more if you prefer.
- Mixing with the hand ensures that all the flavors are well incorporated in the filling.
- By fine grating the jaggery, small stones if any can be separated.
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