Ela Ada: This Onam Sweet Is Still Steamed Inside Banana Leaves
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Ela Ada – pronounced Yella Ada is prepared from coconut, jaggery and rice flour. It is one of the most loved and prepared desserts and usually serves as an evening snack or for breakfast. Ela means banana leaf in which ada (or the filling with dough) is encased and steamed. It’s a healthy dessert as its steamed not fried and uses jaggery instead of sugar. The flavour of the banana leaf permeates the dough and lends it a unique aroma during steaming.  

Ela Ada is prepared in several parts of Tamil Nadu as well and can be prepared with wheat flour as well but the one with rice flour is more popular. The fillings too can vary depending on one’s taste.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Servings: 10 

Ingredients for Dough

    1 cup - Rice Flour 

    1 tsp – ghee 

    ¾ cup - boiled water 

    Banana leaf to wrap 

    A pinch of salt

For filling

    200 gms - Jaggery (it has to be melted for the filling with a little water)

    3 tsp – ghee 

    1 cup – grated coconut 

    ½ tsp - green cardamom powder


    Take less than half a cup of water in a pan, put the crushed jaggery into it and, put it on medium flame

    Keep stirring the jaggery until fully melted. Keep aside

    Take a wide saucepan and melt 2 tsp of ghee, add the grated coconut and roast till it changes colour slightly 

    Strain the jaggery water and pour into the coconut mix. Keep stirring the mixture till the water has fully evaporated, then add the cardamom powder to it. The mix should be almost dry at this point. 

    Add another tsp of ghee to keep the mixture a bit moist. Keep aside to cool completely

Preparing the dough 

    Boil some water in a pan and add a pinch of salt. Once the water is boiling, take it off the flame  

    Take rice flour in a bowl, add ghee and start kneading the dough with a ladle by adding the hot water. Knead it quickly till you get a tight dough. Keep aside 

    Take a banana leaf, slice it down the length into two and then cut five portions on each side making 10 almost equal parts

    Grease your palms with ghee, and divide the dough into 10 balls

    Take the first ball and a single portion of the leaf and pat down the dough like a small, round pancake. It should be slightly thick in the centre and thinner on the edges. Next, spread the filling inside the pancake and seal the banana leaf by bringing together its edges. Prepare all the Ela Adas like this 

    Take an idli steamer, place all the banana leaves into the trays and steam the Ela Adas for about 15 minutes

    They are ready to serve while still hot   

Ela Ada is one of the healthiest snacks that one can enjoy without guilt. It is easily digested and as per Ayurveda combines properties of Vata and Pita. It’s a strength giving food.