Also known as Vishu Ada, Ela Ada is a steamed sweet dish made of rice flour, jaggery, coconut and banana leaves, which are used to steam the dish in. A simple dish packed with subtle yet celebratory flavours, Ela Ada is ritually eaten on the morning of Vishu as a part of the festivities. Here’s the recipe for Ela Ada you need to prepare the dish for your Vishu Sadhya feast.
Call it a celebration of the spring equinox or the first day of the Malayali calendar, but the festival of Vishu in Kerala marks new beginnings and an auspicious time. Just like people from Bengal and Assam, the people of Kerala also celebrate this day as the beginning of the new year, and of course, a massive celebration is called for. The Malayali believe that this festival should be as colourful as possible—and this reflects not only in the clothes and ritual offerings like mirror, rice, coconut, etc but also in the ritual Sadhya feast.
A beautiful array of pure vegetarian dishes served on a banana leaf, that’s the popular image of Sadhya feast we all have. But did you know that there is one dish without which this simple and delicious Sadhya feast will forever be incomplete? We are talking here about a simple, sweet, jaggery and coconut filled rice flour dish called Ada. Also known as Ela Ada and Vishu Ada, this stunningly simple dish gets its unique flavours not only from the main ingredients—jaggery, coconut and rice flour—but also the banana leaves in which the ingredients are wrapped and then steamed.
This sweet and subtly flavoured steamed dish is ritualistically eaten as a breakfast item on Vishu. Preparing the dish is simplicity itself. All you need to do is make rice flour dough and coconut and jaggery stuffing. Usually, cardamom powder is used to flavour the stuffing, but many people also add cumin seeds to give it a bit of a bite. Ghee is applied to the banana leaves, which helps spread the rice flour dough thinly. The stuffing is placed at the centre and the banana leaves folded and pressed to seal the ingredients.
Once steamed, the Ela Ada naturally imbibes the flavour and striations on the banana leaves, creating a beautiful, sweet dish that can be eaten as a breakfast as well as a dessert. However, you must remember to let the steamed Ela Ada cool down completely before opening the banana leaves and serving the dish. This will ensure that the soft, steamed dish doesn’t break or crumble and remains intact. Here’s the easy recipe for Ela Ada you need to make this delicious dish on Vishu.
Image used for representative purpose only. Image courtesy: monsoonspice.com
1 cup rice flour
1.5 cups water
¼ cup jaggery, grated
½ cup coconut, grated
½ tsp cardamom powder
2 tbsp ghee
5 nos. banana leaves
1. Heat a heavy-bottomed pan with the water in it and bring it to a boil.
2. Add the rice flour gradually and mix in with a spatula.
3. Switch off the heat and let the dough cool down a bit.
4. Once cool, knead it with your hands to make a soft dough.
5. Keep the dough covered and ready for later use.
6. Place the jaggery, coconut and cardamom powder in a bowl.
7. Mix well to make the stuffing and set aside.
8. Now, take a banana leaf, apply ghee and place a dough ball at the centre.
9. Flatten the dough ball to make a circle.
10. Place a teaspoon full of the stuffing in the middle of the dough.
11. Fold the banana leaf and press lightly to ensure the Ela Ada inside is sealed.
12. Place the banana leaf in the steamer for 10 minutes, then take the leaf out.
13. Prepare the remaining Ela Ada with the dough, stuffing and banana leaves.
14. Once steamed, serve the Ela Ada warm or at room temperature.