Elai Adai

Elai Adai is a delicious sweet dish exclusive to Kerala that is made out of Jackfruit Jam, Coconut, Rice Flour and Jaggery. The preparation is unique in that it is a two – layer steamed dish that has the banana leaf as the base. A bit elaborate to make, it is worth every bit of the effort and once made gets devoured in no time.

The most important ingredient is the jackfruit jam. Since jack fruit is not available through out the year the jam can be made and preserved during the season time so that it can be used any time of the year. However many shops now sell ready made jam which can be bought and used. The taste of the dish is further enhanced by the aroma of the banana leaf on which is it placed and steamed.

In olden days [ and even now in some homes in Kerala] the preparation of the jam by itself is a huge ritual. A whole jack fruit is sometimes used in the making of the jam in hugely populated households. The jam is so tasty it can eaten plain too. In fact the jam is used in the preparation of another delicacy ‘ Chakka Payasam ‘ or Chakka Pradaman’ [ refer earlier posts]. Will comne up with a separate post on preparing the jam.

Ingredients:

Jack fruit jam – 1 cup
Grated jaggery – 3/4 cup
Grated Coconut – 2 cups
Raw rice – 3/4 cup
Boiled Rice – 1 cup
Gingely Oil – 1 tlbsp
Salt – Pinch

Base :
Banana Leaves – One per piece of adai. Cut them into squares depending on the size of your steamer.

Method:

For the filling:
Melt jaggery with little water and strain.
In a heavy bottomed pan pour melted jaggery and add the jack fruit jam.
Stir well so that the jam mixes well to a paste like consistency without any lumps.
Added grated coconut and mix well till it again reaches a jam – like consistency and all the moisture is gone.

For the paste:
Soak rice up to 8 hours and grind to a smooth paste.
Add salt and gingely oil and mix well.
The paste should be very thick – of spreading consistency.

Raw banana leaves are bound to tear and have to be seasoned in order to be used here. Hold each piece of leave over the flame in the stove and flip each side over for a minute. Alternatively you can steam the leaves too for a few minutes.

When all the above three components are ready:

Take a banana leaf and spread a thin layer pf rice flour over it. Cover only 3/4 th of the leaf.
Now spread the jam over the rice flour mix again ensuring that you stop just before the edges [ of the rice flour paste in this case]
Fold the leaf into half quickly and fold the edges to seal them.
Place in a steamer and steam on medium flame for about 15 to 20 minutes depending on the number of pieces placed in the steamer.
You will know it is done once the adai comes off the leaf.
The adai can be had straight from the leaf or gently removed and placed on a plate.

Tips:
The adai can be made in a round or square shape as per your comfort levels.
The banana leaf has to be carefully handled once the filling is done while transferring it to the steamer.
Last heard that even stores in the US stock frozen banana leaves that can be used for Elai Adai.

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Tanjavur Mess, West Mambalam, Chennai, India – Review by Archana Srinivasan

Although a very famous eatout situated at a very good place in West-mambalam, we had quite a bit of a difficulty finding it out. Its quite close to the Mambalam Railway station and is put up at Subbu street (Subba Rao Street), off Lake view road. Only when we were quite close to the place, we stopped to take directions and everyone in that area knew about it.

My husband enlightens me a bit about west mambalam being one of the hot-spots for mansions hosting a lot of bachelors. I found the same crowd in the mess when I entered. No family crowd at all.

There were only benches and stools laid out with the quintessential banana leaf or vazha elai. I feel this is the best way to serve customers in hotel. One neednt waste water to clean plates or waste electricity to sterilize spoons. Only leaves have to be chopped off the banana tree and is biodegradable too. Ambiance was also typical like a mess, where you sit, eat and get going.

We did not want a heavy breakfast, so ordered 2 idlys + 1 vadai each. Items are served by hand, which I found quite normal in such places. One just has to ignore such trivialities in life. Immediately we were served with the items together with unlimited chutney (coconut & tomato-onion) and hot sambar. It was pure yumminess. They keep refilling the chutney and sambar till you finish. Still not satiated, we ordered 1 saadha dosa and 1 kal-dosa. Both were really good, again served with unlimited sambar n chutney.

We returned home with our stomachs full & smiling and wallet happy (cos the same items at HSB would have costed us double the bill). And we are definitely going to come back with better planning for a heavy breakfast may be on a sunday and skip lunch that day