Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Ela Ada –Sweet Rice-flour Parcels in Banana Leaf

Mother lovingly plates some leafy thin steamed Adas, carefully unfolding from the banana leaf parcel, and serves her teenager daughter with a glass of warm milk mixed with her favourite Bournvita……

Teenager makes a face…..and says.."…mm…I'm bored of this…..cant you make something else…you should have asked Acha to get some Meat rolls or burger on his way back…:( "

Years later……..the same teenager now grown up , sitting in Uncle Tom's land, far-far away from her family, missing the smells from her mother's kitchen ,clinking of the steel plates, and craving for those for those steamed sweet delicacies, she picks up the phone and dials a long distance number and asks," Mummy……how do you make those ela adas ….? I cant remember the last time I had 'em…. feel like having some of 'em now…!!!"

Irony of life? Part of growing up? Lord's way of teaching us to appreciate the simplicities of life? Or just a nostalgia of a non resident Indian? Whatever that might be….there is a part of me that yearns to run to my parent's place and grab those simple pleasures of life, those simple delicacies of my homeland…….Sigh!!

Ela Ada, a traditional Kerala delicacy, is rice-flour parcels, encased in a dough made of rice flour, with sweet fillings, steamed in banana leaf and served as an evening snack or as part of breakfast. Grated coconut and rice flour are the two main ingredients. The simplicity and taste of this dish is accentuated by that distinct flavour and subtle aroma emanating from the fresh banana leaves while it is steamed.

  • 1 ½ cups rice flour, mildly roasted
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 - 1 ½ cups hot boiling water or enough to make a smooth dough
  • 1 cup grated coconut
  • ¼ cup melted and filtered jaggery/sharkkara - medium consistency
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 1 ½ tbsp coarsely chopped cashew nuts
  • 1 ½ tbsp coarsely chopped raisins
  • 2 cardamoms crushed.
  • Banana leaves for wrapping
  • Make the filling: In a small pan heat ghee and fry coarsely chopped nuts and raisins until the nuts turn golden brown and raisins turn plump. In another small saucepan, pour the melted jaggery/sharkkara and add the grated coconut and let it cook for 1-2 mins in medium heat; to this add the fried nuts, raisins and also the leftover ghee as well the crushed cardamoms and blend well and keep aside.
  • Make the rice flour dough by first mixing rice flour and salt; to this add the boiling hot water, just enough to make a soft and smooth dough; use a spoon to blend everything well and when it is warm enough to touch, knead gently and make the dough and divide them into 6 balls (Note: the dough should be looser than the chappathi/roti dough but as soft as the Idiayappam/string-hoppers dough)
  • Making the Ada: Take a piece of banana leaf in rectangular shape, as shown in the pictorial; place one rice dough ball and flatten it gently; then with fingertips, stretch the dough onto the leaf, flattening it very thin . Dipping the finger in water, once in a while, will make this process easier, especially if the dough is a bit sticky or dry. Once the dough is stretched out, keep some sweet filling on one half and fold the other half and press the edges gently, making sure that it is sealed well, else the filling might come out.

  • Steaming the Ada: Place these prepared Ada in banana leaves, in a steamer or Idly –steamer or in a pressure cooker without keeping the weight, filled with enough water, and steam for 7-12 minutes, or till it is fully cooked, in medium heat.
  • Once the Adas are cooked, transfer it to a plate and leave it aside for 10 minutes for all the steam to settle. Serve warm, either taking the adas out of its wraps or in the banana leaf itself. I prefer the latter for that distinct aroma and flavour coming from the banana leaves.


  • You mad add some chopped pieces of ripe bananas aka Aethappazham, to the coconut- jaggery mixture which gives a fresh fruit flavour to the filling.
  • You may also use Chakka-varatti/Jackfruit preserves as filling.
  • Another variation is using a simple filling of grated coconut, sugar and crushed cardamoms; there is no need for stove-top cooking for this filling.
  • Instead of steaming, you may cook the prepared ada in banana wraps, on a flat non-stick pan, by flipping each sides, until it is cooked. This is tastier and different from the steamed ones. UPDATE : The roasted ones are called Ottada. You can check my post on Ottada HERE.
Note: If banana leaf is not available, you can use parchment papers, you will get tasty steamed Adas, sans the aroma and flavor of banana leaves.

For Kozhukatta: You can follow the same cooking method and list of ingredients for the dough and filling. The only difference is that, instead of flattening the rice balls on the leaf, you can directly fill them, as in the pictorial given at the end of this paragraph, and while steaming, you need not use banana leaf for covering these sweet balls; you can steam them placing directly on an idli steamer or placing them in a flat plate on a regular steamer pressure cooker without keeping the weight, filled with enough water, and steam for 7-12 minutes, or till it is fully cooked, in medium heat. The steamed balls may turn out sticky sometime and that depends on the quality of the rice flour. For a step by step pictorial, click here.


No part of the content ( articles, photographs, recipes) of this blog may be reproduced without my written permission.Copyright © 2007-2010 All rights reserved.