September 20, 2008

Elai Adai Goan Style - Patolyo (Coconut-Jackfruit-Jaggery Filled Rice Packets Steamed In Turmeric Leaves)

Printable version here.

Elai Adais (called Ela Ada in Malayalam) are steamed rice packets usually filled with a coconut jaggery filling and a traditional sweet preparation from Kerala. The “Elai” (meaning leaf in Tamil) in the Elai Adai, is the leaf of the banana plant in which the “Adai”s are wrapped before steaming. When you open the steamed leafy packet, what you find is a thin envelope of rice which is almost bursting with the promise of a sweet cardamom flavoured coconut and jackfruit filling. As far as I am aware, in Kerala, these sweet preparations are not made to be served at any particular festival or occasion. This is another Kerala preparation which has been adopted and has become a part of Palakkad Iyer cuisine.

Jackfruits (Chakka in Malayalam), like mangoes, are very common during the summer months in Kerala. They are a much loved fruit there and cooked in their raw form in a variety of ways. The raw fruit is also deep fried into delicious and crisp chips and even the seeds make for some very tasty food. The ripe fruit is sweet and mostly eaten as it is. Most houses, in the olden days, would have at least one Jackfruit tree (known as “Plavu” in Malayalam) in their backyard. The excess of the sweet fruit would be converted into a ghee-flavoured, jaggery-sweetened jam called “Chakkavaratti”. Making Chakkavarati is a laborious process which requires much stirring to ensure the jam reaches its correct consistency.

You must be wondering why I started with Elai Adais and moved off to Jackfruit jam!
Well, during the Jackfruit season, the Chakkavaratti/ jam is also added to the usual jaggery coconut filling while making the Elai Adai. I can assure you that this makes this delicious sweet absolutely wonderful. I was lucky to find some home-made Chakkavaratti on my last trip to Kerala in July. I had stored this in the freezer for some special occasion.

The perfect occasion turned out to be late last month because, in Goa, this is when the tender, parrot green and aromatic leaves of the turmeric plant are available in plenty. And people in Goa use it to make Patolyos (or Patoleo or Patoli). Patolyos are also steamed rice sweet filled with a coconut jaggery mixture and made for special occasions. The only difference is that they are steamed in turmeric leaves. This lends it a unique taste and flavour which is different from those steamed in banana leaves.

Hindus in Goa make Patolyos usually for Nagpanchami and the eve of Ganesh Chathurthi, while Roman Catholics here make these for local feasts such as the Feast of Our Lady of Assumption (on August 15th), Sao Joao Feast or Konsachem Fest (a harvest festival). In both communities, Patholyos are also sent with the groom’s family as part of the “vojem” (trousseau).

The method for making Elai Adai or Patholyo is generally the same and the difference is in the leaves used for wrapping them before steaming. I understand some families here use wheat flour for the outer covering instead of rice. Some use cane jaggery for the filling while others use palm jaggery. When Jackfruits are available in Goa, it seems that the pulp of the fruit is added to rice batter. Sometimes, even chopped cashewnuts or raisins are added to the rice batter. Such variations exist depending on the family and the part of the Konkan coast they belong to.

So this time I made Elai Adai, Goan style, by using turmeric leaves as banana leaves are not easy to come by where I live. I used my usual recipe for making Elai Adai and that is what is given below.


8 to 10 tender turmeric leaves (or banana leaf pieces)

For the outer covering:

1 cup raw rice

½ tsp salt

For the filling:

1 ½ cups freshly grated coconut

½ cup powdered jaggery

½ cup chakkavaratti (if not using this, increase the jaggery to ¾ cup)

1 tbsp ghee

5 pods, cardamom, powdered


Soak the rice in water for about 4 hours, drain the water and then grind to a smooth paste using enough water to have a somewhat thick batter (like for pancakes). Add the salt and keep aside.

Put all the ingredients in a pan on the stove, adding a couple of tbsps of water. Over medium heat, keep stirring the mixture for about 2 minutes, till the jaggery has dissolved and the mixture is moist and comes together. Take off the heat and allow to cool.
If you are not using the Jackfruit jam, use ¾ cup of powdered jaggery and proceed with the recipe. You may adjust the amount depending on how sweet your jaggery is.

If you are using banana leaves, cut into roughly 6” by 6” pieces. Then place each piece over the flame of your gas stove (a few seconds) so that the leaf just wilts. This will make the banana leaf flexible enough to fold without tearing.
Then proceed as for the turmeric leaves. After folding once, you may fold the open ends and the sides to form a sealed packet, which cannot be done with the turmeric leaves.

To make the Elai Adais or Patolyos:

Using a spoon, pour a small quantity of the batter on the centre of the turmeric leaf and spread it into a somewhat thin circle (see the picture). Place some filling in the centre of the batter and carefully fold the leaf along its centre such that the leaf folds over itself. Place carefully in the steamer, taking care the batter does not leak. Repeat with the remaining batter and filling.

Place the Elai Adais/ Patolyos in a steamer and steam cook for about 12 minutes, till the rice layer is well cooked. Take out and allow to cool till just warm. Serve.

When you peel off the leaf, the rice covering should be thin enough to see the dark coloured filling. It is important that the rice batter is not applied very thick or your Elai Adai/ Patolyo will taste more of the rice than the filling.

This recipe makes about 8 to 10 Elai Adais or Patolyos.

Update (22nd September, 2008):

It was only while reading the comments at this post, that I realised that I hadn't said anything about the flavour of the Patolyos. We are used to Elai Adais steamed in banana leaves, but this new flavour was something we really enjoyed.
The tender turmeric leaves lend a mild (not strong as with turmeric powder) and very nice flavour to the Elai Adai/ Patolyo. And the fragrance of the leaves just wafts through the kitchen while they are being steam cooked. I really do not know how to describe this but it is worth experiencing.

This is my contribution to RCI - Konkan Cuisine being hosted by by Deepa at Recipes N More.

An Appeal Regarding WBB: Grains in my Breakfast

On the matter of WBB: Grains in my Breakfast, I have just found out that many of you have linked to my event announcement but I don’t seem to have got many of your e-mails with the entry details. Either there has been a problem with Gmail or else my e-mail id { (zero zero and not oh oh)} hasn’t been typed in properly. I usually send a reply within 3 days of receiving a mail with concerning event details.

So if you have sent me a mail with details for the WBB event, and not heard from me so far, please resend the mail with the details, to me. Thank you and my apologies for any inconvenience.


Happy cook said...

Just super DELICIOUS.
This is one ada ( with the jaggery and coconut not with the chakka as the season is finished when i am there )my mom makes for me when ever i go back home.
This year too she made them and i hogged three of them in one sitting , i like it when it is a bit cold.
I woudn't mind to have few from you now.
I am a huge fan of ada, but mt daughter and hubby don't like them at all.

sra said...

I've seen this in many blogs, eaten this from a heat and eat packet (!) and had chakkavaratti when we had our bloggers' meet.

Curry Leaf said...

Yummy,Aparna,It is a Konkani(not just Goan,but those in Kerala and Karnataka as well.) delight as well.Its Nice you made it.Now you have evoked sweet memories.

Bharti said...

A lovely post Aparna.
It looks absolutely delicious...hope I get to try it at some point. For that matter, I've never had jackfruit. I have a can sitting in my pantry since weeks now, but I feel like I'll be so disappointed with the canned version that I don't feel like bothering with it. I want to lay my hands on some fresh ones so badly!

Cham said...

A sweet post Aparna, i ve heard about steaming in leaves and seen in many blogs, Your sweet is absolutely mouth watering!

Divya Vikram said...

Looks authentic..Nice recipe..

Divya Vikram said...

Have sent in my entry email again..Did u eceive it?

Ivy said...

Aparna, I don't think you had any problem with my entry as I remember I had this problem in the past writing oh, oh instead of zero, zero. Most interesting post as this is all new to me. Lovely photos as well.

Lynda said...

Thanks for visiting my blog all the way in Africa :) Your recipes look delicious & I'll come back soon to read some more ...
Bye for now
Lynda, Kilimanjaro, East Africa

Nags said...

that filling looks absolutely yummy!!! I never knew you could use turmeric leaves instead of banana leaves. thats really brilliant :)

I havent sent in anything for WBB but just a question about your email id. Does it misspell your name intentionally or is the 'a' after 'p' missed intentionally?

Sunshinemom said...

Aparna - I am one big eater when I see this but a bigger lazybone! Probably because I have my MIL giving this readymade:) I love it is all I can say, but prefer banana leaf as turmeric also imparts its flavor!

Aparna said...

Well, HC, next time you're on India, do come to Goa and I'll make it for you.:)

Yes, Curry Leaf. That's why I mentioned that there are variations of this along the Konkan coast.

I did, Divya. Thank you.

The 'a' after the 'p' in my e-mail i.d. is missed on purpose. That was the only short option available on Gmail. :)

We liked the flavour of the turmeric leaves, too Harini. Banana or turmeric, hamare matlab Adai se hain! :D

Mishmash ! said...

ada in turmeric! i have never heard of it...thanks a lot for introducing me to such a tasty tradition.....i just loved this post! :)

RedChillies said...

Gosh! It is impossible to get those turmeric leaves here in the US. We love patoli here at home and that is what we prepare for ganapthi chauthi. Lovelypost.

WhatIsInTheFood said...

Although I am not a vegetarian I really enjoy your blog

Lakshmi said...

Very nice post ya..and I absolutely loved using coconut and jackfruit filling in adai's

jayasree said...

Adais look perfect. How does it taste with the flavor from turmeric leaves? If it is only a mild flavor, then its okay.

Jude said...

beautiful post... I was starting to get pretty smug since I was pretty familiar with all of the ingredients.. until you got to the turmeric leaves.

Divya said...

Yummy adais Aparna..we too make it in haldi paan(turmeric leaves) and it does impart a very nice flavor to the ada.we also make a jackfruit ada-pansa patholi which tastes divine with the haldi have made me drool over the pics...smack-ilicious!!!

karuna said...

wowowo, this is somthing totally new to me. really elaborate recipe. but all the ingredient combinations sound really yummy. i am doing a series on indian cooking. will be posting a write up on the western cooking, wld love it if u can link back to it with this recipe. will send u the link once i write it.

DEESHA said...

coconut & jackfruit .. delicious filling

Pearlsofeast said...

Aparna,I love the smell of turmeric leaves and we also have a special steamed sweet with these aromatic leaves.I can imagine the awesome taste and flavor in this recipe.

PG said...

delicious! Jack fruit, I love it. And a wonderrful recipe. And wow! you used turmeric leaves! I had the chance to see and eat food cooked in turmeric leaves. While i was staying at a hostel, I had manipuri friends / neighbours, who brought back some turmeric leaves and cooked foosd in them. Oh! Now I'm yearning for these delicate and aromatic leaves....:)

Rachel said... have some creativity related to cooking...mine lies elsewhere :)

bee said...

you actually made the adai? i'd have polished off the filling. it looks sooooooo yummy.

Aparna said...

Thanks, Mishmash and RC.

The flavour is quite mild, Jayasree yet absolutely heavenly. At least we loved it.

Well Jude, I wish I could say the same about your posts. I can never get smug there.:(

Sure Karuna.

Did not know Turmeric leaves were used in Manipuri cooking, PG. Actually, I don't know much about Manipuri cooking.

:), Rachel.

I was quite tempted, Bee but hung on by sheer will power. And I actuall managed to save the rest of the chakkavarati in the freezer!!

Akshay said...

The Gaon Dishes of this site is amazing. I like all Gaon recipes. There are lots of Gaon Recipes in which is fantastic.