Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Elai Adai

Elai adai is a traditional kerala dish made on special occasions. Rice batter is stuffed with sweet filling of coconut, jaggery, jack fruit, folded in banana leaf and steamed to perfection.  Some people also call it "Valsan". I did not have fresh jack fruit and hence used a table spoon of chakka varatti which I got from India. You can omit this jack fruit and just do with coconut alone. I added some cashews just to give a nice texture and crunch to the poornam. You can see the display of my sweet at the contest, as I did not have time to take close up pictures.

I recently participated in a desert contest where the ingredient that need to be used was rice. I made elai adai and it came out very well and liked by many. I got this recipe from my chithi/ aunt and would like to thank her for encouraging me to do this. One can also use savory filling instead of he sweet one. I made one with sauted onions, corn and zucchini and steamed in banana leaf and it was yummy too.

Get Ready

To make  the rice batter

  • 1/2 cup raw rice ( ponni raw rice)
  • 1/2 cup parboiled rice ( puzhungal arisi)

Soak the rice in water for at least 3-4 hrs. drain the water and grind them into a very smooth batter without much water. set aside. The batter should be  like the consistency of pancake / idli batter.
Take a tbsp of the batter and add 3-4 tbsp of water in a vessel. Cook on a low flame stirring till the thin rice batter water mix becomes a thick paste or " kanji" like. See the consistency of the batter in the picture.
Let it cool completely and add it to the rice batter. whisk it well without any lumps and set aside. This step will help your outer covering of the adai stay soft for a long time. 

To make the poornam /stuffing

  • 1 cup grated jaggery/ vellam
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup freshly grated coconut
  • 1 tsp cardamom powder
  • 2 tbsp  whole cashews, broken into small bite size pieces, roasted golden in ghee
  • 1 tsp ghee
In a pan add the jaggery and add water just enough to soak the jaggery.

let the jaggery melt, strain the mixture to remove any dirt.
Return the jaggery water mixture to the stove and let it come to a frothing boil and thick.

Add a drop of the frothing " paagu" to a small bowl of water, you should be able to make a small ball, which will be like the consistency of slime.

Add the coconut, cardamom, cashew pieces and ghee and cook till the stuffing is sticky but also leaves the side of the pan. Turn the heat off & set aside. you can add  1tbsp chakka varatti at this point and mix. This step is optional. Now the poornam is ready.

To make the adai

Banana leaves  rectangular pieces at least 20- 25 cm long. If the leaves are older, it is better to fold them. if you have fresh leaves, just show them on the flame of your gas stove. This is called " elaya vattaradhu". This step will make the leaves more pliable to fold.
Add a small ladle of the rice batter at the center of the banana leaf. Spread it thinly like a small dosa. This is called " maavu ezhudharadhu".

Add a spoon of the  poornam to one side of the rice batter.

 Fold the banana leaf in half. Fold the all sides and flip and keep them aside with the folded side down. 

Arrange these in a idli plate and steam in  the cooker (without weight) for 20 mins. Once steamed, the banana leaf will change color. You can see how I had folded the leaf. By this, the poornam get smeared all over the rice flour.

Once cool, open the leaf packet and enjoy the elai adai. It will taste so good with the smell of banana leaf, jaggery, coconut etc.

Here is a picture of he savory elai adai, opened.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Cranberry Avakka/ Avakkaya

A bag of bright red/ burgundy cranberries always beckon me at the supermarket aisles. The sour, tart flavor makes me think " Hmm.. I can do something interesting with this cute little thing than make a relish!" During my recent shopping, this thought made me pick a bag of cranberries.

 My friend gave me a bottle of cranberry pickle last year. She made the pickle in avakka style I love mango avakka and could not wait to try the cranberry avakka with some curd rice. It was delectable and I instantly loved it. I have wanted to make some by myself and the recent availability of fresh cranberries in the market encouraged me to do so. I asked my friend for the recipe and she was nice to share it with me. I made it last week and it came out pretty good. So, here is the recipe for cranberry avakka.

Avakka is a delicacy from the state of Andhra. Ava means mustard seeds and kai means mangai or raw mango.

The rule of thumb for the spice mixture for avakkaya is 8 measure of cranberry, 1 measure of salt, 1 measure of red chilli powder, 1/2 measure of mustard seed powder and 1 measure of oil. I used a large ladle and measured everything with that. You can use any measuring cup you you want. Adjust salt and red chilli powder as per taste.

There is no cooking involved except for roasting the vendhayam/ fenugreek. The ground cranberries give a little more " vizhudhu" for the pickle as they do not ooze as much liquid as mangoes. This is one of the easiest pickles to make and it tastes finger licking good.

Get ready

  • 1 , 12 oz bag of fresh cranberries ( 1.5 cups)
  • Salt
  • Mustard seeds, powdered ( without roasting)
  • Red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp Fenugreek seeds, roasted and powdered
  • oil ( I used canola oil, you can use gingelly or vegetable oil too)


  • Wash the cranberries and let it air dry completely on a towel. You do not want any moisture. It may take 2-4 hrs for it to dry out completely.
  • Pick out those cranberries which are soft and squishy and set aside . You want firm cranberries for the pickle.

  • Cut the firm berries in half or quarter depending on the size of your berries.

  • Take the soft cranberries and pulse them in a blender for a few seconds.
  • In a bowl add the chopped cranberries, pulsed berries, salt, red chilli powder, mustard seeds powder, roasted fenugreek powder, oil and mix well.

  • The oil should be  floating on top of the berries and that is the adequate amount of oil one needs for the pickle.

  • Adjust salt per taste and transfer it to a clean air tight bottle.
Enjoy this avakka with rice, dal, molagootal and  yogurt.

If you like garlic, you can a few cloves and pulse it with the soft cranberries. It takes the taste to another yummy level.