Elai Adai Goan Style : Patolyo - Coconut-Jackfruit-Jaggery Filled Rice Packets Steamed In Turmeric Leaves (GF, V)
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.
For the outer covering:
For the filling:
- Note : If you don't use the Chakkavaratti (jackfruit jam) please increas the jaggery from 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup.
- 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.