Ela Ada, literally translated means pancake (ada) made in a leaf (ela or ila), in this case wrapped in a banana leaf. Traditionally, the simplest version of this ada had to be made for Onam. This was a simple snack that was made during my mother's childhood days because all the ingredients that go in this was abundantly available. Both the rice and coconut came from the land and some rice was always kept powdered for making breakfast and snack dishes. Ela ada was one of those snacks that was quickly rustled up incase any of the children felt hungry.
Staying in a city like Delhi and in an area with hardly any South Indians, laying our hands on banana leaves was next to impossible. During Vishu or Onam truckloads of stuff from Kerala comes into Delhi and at that time getting the leaves is easy. Though it is possible to use parchment paper to make this ada, the ada does not have the flavor that the leaf imparts it. So this time, when my husband made a trip to Mumbai, I asked my mother to send some leaves from the garden. And true to the nature of mothers, mine went ahead and wilted it over fire, making it ready to be used. Tightly wrapped in newspaper, the leaves are in my refrigerator for a few more rounds of ada and snack making.
The colors seen when making this ela ada was so good that my husband volunteered to take pics for a step by step pictorial.Ingredients (makes 5 long Ada)
Banana leaf - 1
Rice flour - 1 cup
Water as required
Salt - 1/4 tsp
Sugar - 1/4 tsp
coconut - 1/2
jaggery - 1 cup
Clean the banana leaf by wiping it with a moist cloth completely. Switch on the gas stove and keep on low, then slowly hold the banana leaf over it and let it wilt lightly. Keep moving the leaf so that the flame wilts each and every part of the leaf. Do not keep any one portion over the flame for long, it will burn and that portion will have to be discarded. This is done to make the leaf pliable, to be able to fold without tearing the leaf. Once done, lay it out flat on the kitchen platform. Then cut the banana leaf lengthwise in the middle along the vein. Then cut each long piece into 3 pieces. Apply ghee or oil very lightly all over the greener side of the leaf. And keep aside.
Mix the rice flour and salt and sugar well. Add water little by little to make a very soft and almost loose dough.
Grate coconut and mix with the grated jaggery
Take a little dough in your hand and patting your fingers spread it on the leaf in a rectangle shape.
If the dough is too thick or difficult to spread, wet fingers with a little water and spread it thinly.
Spread the coconut jaggery mixture on half of the rice dough leaving 1/4 to 1/2 inch space around the edges of the dough
Carefully lift the dough covered leaf and fold over the to cover the coconut jaggery mix with it
Softly pat it down the folded over leaf to seal all around and the edges.
Steam it in a idli steamer or in a pressure cooker or rice cooker.
Remove the ada from the steamer and lift off one side of the leaf. Cut into pieces and serve.
Soft and sweet Ela Ada is ready to be eaten.
The step-by-step Photo courtesy: my dear husband
My Ela Ada / Coconut & Jaggery Pancake goes to