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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TIPS FOR BETTER COOKING – PART IV

1.Dry roast fenugreek in a pan, powder it finely and store. A couple of spoons added to your dosa batter will make them very tasty

2.When you have indigestion problem and you feel like having dosa, just mix a spoon of ‘Chukku’ powder [dried ginger] to the batter and make dosas. It is tasty and aids in digestion.

3.When big gooseberries are in season supplement them for tamarind in chutneys. It not only adds to the taste but adds to the nutritive value too.

4.Having guests coming over and need to get the chapathi dough [INDIAN BREAD] well kneaded. No worries. Mix the dough by hand to form a lump. If you have a grinder at home, remove the grinder stone and place the dough in the vessel. Place the stone back on the dough and run the grinder for a couple of minutes. Stop the grinder reverse the dough and follow same procedure as before. You will get soft dough from which you can make excellent chapathis.

5.To get crisp pakodas add corn flour and a tsp of oil to the batter along with besan.

6.To make crisp samosas take a thin dry piece of cotton cloth and place the flour in it and tie it. Place this in a pressure cooker and steam for a few minutes. Use this flour to make the dough.

7.Have too much rice left over? Boil a few potatoes and carrots. Add salt, garam masala powder, turmeric powder to it and mash well. Mix this with rice and add salt o taste. Add a little corn flour and make them into nice round balls. Fry it in hot oil to get an instant tasty snack.

8.If coconut is used in ground masala do not fry it for long.

9.Remove the stems of green chilies before storing them. They will last long.

10.Little sugar added to any gravy makes it tasty.

TIPS BY: Mrs. Mira Balachandran; mira.balachandran@gmail.com

Kanchipuram Idly

Idly is a universally accepted and sought after dish for its simplicity in terms of preparation, adaptability, digestion and taste. There are innumerable varieties already but you find a new variant coming up everyday. So much for its adaptability to any ingredient added to it.

Indian Steamed Cake

Ingredients:

Urad Dal – 1 cup

Raw Rice – 1 cup

Par Boiled Rice – 1 cup

Cumin Seeds – 1 tsp

Pepper – 1 tsp [coarsely powdered]

Salt to taste

Ghee – 1 tsp

Cashewnuts – a few

Oil – 1 tlbsp

Ginger – 1 tsp [ finely grated, optional]

Mustard Seeds – ½ tsp [optional]

Method:

Wash & soak urad dal and rice separately at least for 4 to 6 hours.

Grind them separately in a grinder to a thick batter. The rice can be ground a bit coarsely.

Add salt as required and mix together.

Let is ferment for 6 to 8 hours.

Add ghee to a pan and fry the Cashew nuts till brown. Add to the batter.

Pour oil in the pan and add mustard seeds. When it splutters add cumin, pepper and ginger and fry for a few seconds. Add to batter and mix well.

Pour the idly batter in idly plates after greasing them with oil and steam till it is done.

Serve hot with appropriate chutneys or sambar.

Tips: Thick Sour curds can also be added to the batter if it has not fermented well. However ensure the batter does not become watery.

Instead of Idly plates this batter can also be poured in long tubular cylinder like vessels [puttu Koralle] or even in your normal tumblers after greasing them well. Alternatively they can also be poured in shallow plates with at least 2 inches depth and then steamed. This can be cut into squares and served.