Elai Adai (A Sweet Dish Steamed In Banana Leaves)

One of the very few desserts that I really enjoy is elai adai – a very simple and healthy dish. Not to mention that it is a very healthy dish too. Many cultures have the tradition of steaming dishes in banana leaves. Elai Adai is quintessentially a South Indian dish mainly prepared in Palakkad. I once served this dish at a vegan potluck and it was an instant hit. I often tell Hari to make this for me. It is very easy to prepare and very filling. It is traditionally make with jackfruit paste and coconut. But since I do not get ripe jackfruit where I stay, I use only grated coconut. It turns out very yum! Do try it – you will not regret it,

6-8 banana leaves, about 8″ square
For Rice Batter
2 cups rice (I use brown rice)
A pinch of salt
Water to grind
For The Filling
1 cup date paste
1/2 cup grated coconut
Soak the rice for about 4 hours and grind to a very fine paste, the consistency of dosa batter (pouring consistency, neither thick nor thin)
Add a pinch of salt and set aside
Boil the date paste, adding a little water (not too much, it should be a thick liquid)
Once it begins to boil, add the grated coconut
Stir continuously till the ingredients are well mixed (you should get a moist and solid filling)
Set aside to cool
Wilt the banana leaf of a flame till it wilts (this will help you fold the leaves, without breaking, for steaming)
Pour and spread a small ladle of the rice batter on the banana leaf
Add a tablespoon of the grated coconut/date paste filling to the centre
Fold the leaf and transfer to a steamer
Repeat for the remaining batter and filling
Steam for about 20 minutes
Remove from steamer and serve hot

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