Ela Ada – Vazha ila Ada recipe – Steamed Rice Dumplings

Ela Ada

‘Ela Ada’ also called ‘Vazha ila Ada’ is a kind of sweet steamed rice dumpling , filled with coconut ,and jaggery. It is a traditional dish from South India , which has been prepared from many years ,and passed on from generations .’Vazha Ela’ means banana leaf , and the ‘Ada’ means dumpling in the native language.

Growing up , I have seen ‘Ela Ada’ prepared at home .It was also a special dish prepared when visiting grandparents at my hometown in Kerala . This is also considered as a special dish , for offerings in prayers , rituals and occasions as well. It may seem a little difficult to make. In fact, I never tried a hand at it , until the recent years. We enjoy having this dish at home ,so I definitely wanted to learn making it. The joys of perfecting this dish, is something that only ‘Ada’ lovers can vouch for.

Ela Ada - Steamed Rice Dumplings with coconut and jaggery
Ela Ada – Steamed Rice Dumplings with coconut and jaggery

How to make ‘Vazha Ela Ada’ ?

The base of this dish , the outer covering is similar to that of the dish Pathiri, that I posted earlier. It’s nothing but dough made of rice flour , salt and boiling hot water . You can use the rice flour ,or the special rice flour called “Pathiri Podi” available in the super market .The rice flour and water is stirred with a wooden spoon, and then combined to form a large ball of dough. Later , small round rice balls are rolled , flattened slightly using the palms and the flat press used in making this dish.

The press is exactly similar to the tortilla press . You can line the press with clingwrap or ziplock sheets cut from sides ,and lubricate with a little oil if required .This prevents the dough from sticking to the press, and easy lifting. The flattened dough is stuffed with a sweet filling of coconut , and jaggery infused with powdered cardamom .The sides are gently pressed to seal completely. It is then carefully wrapped in a banana leaf ,and placed in a steamer and steamed for about 10 to 15 mins .

Ela Ada - Steamed Rice Dumplings with coconut and jaggery
Ela Ada – Steamed Rice Dumplings with coconut and jaggery

To make the perfect dough for ‘Ela Ada’

The dough making can be a little tricky for beginners. But once you master it , and with practice, it just comes naturally. In my preparation, the water and flour ratio that I use is 2 1/4 : 2 cups . I boil around 3 cups of water . Start by pouring 2 1/4 cups of water to 2 cups of the flour . Later, add the remaining water if required. The extra water may be necessary, when the flour does not soak up completely.

Since the water is boiling hot, it’s preferable to use a wooden spoon to stir. Wait for it to cool , for about 5 mins .Once cooled ,you can then slowly work your way with your hands . You can add a little oil to smoothen the dough . The dough should neither be too sticky ,that it gets stuck on using the press , nor too dry that you can’t form a neat flat shape . You can see pictures of the dumpling making process, in the collage below for reference.

Ela Ada - Steamed Rice Dumplings with coconut and jaggery
Ela Ada – Steamed Rice Dumplings with coconut and jaggery

Filling of the Vazha Ila Ada

The filling of coconut and jaggery , can be made in advance and cooled . The grated coconut and jaggery are heated on a slow flame, with very little water . When the jaggery completely melts wait for the water to evaporate . A little cardamom powder, and a pinch of salt is added to enhance the taste . The consistency should be neither too watery nor dry. The aroma of the filling when cooking is just awesome .

Ela Ada Preparation Steps
Ela Ada Preparation Steps

Can Ela Ada be made without a banana leaf

Yes , you can directly place the ‘Ada’ or dumplings in the steamer, and it will still turn out good. If you have the banana leaf available , nothing like it .It will give a nice look and taste even better. Since I had a banana plant growing in the backyard , I was more than happy , and excited to use the leaves .

Benefits of cooking Vazha Ela Ada in a banana leaf

The banana leaf is used in many types of Asian cuisines for wrapping food, grilling, and steaming . It is known to impart a nice aroma, and flavor to the dishes .The moisture of the food cooked in a banana leaf is retained. The leaves are also said to contain polyphenols, which have antioxidant properties .The health benefits of the leaves make it even more appealing. You can read more about the banana leaf uses here .

Can the cooked Ada be stored ?

The cooked ‘Ada’ can be refrigerated for about two to three days. You may want to re- steam again, so that it softens . It can get hard and dry on storing in the refrigerator. It’s best eaten fresh, and as soon as it is cooked for the authentic flavors. I have never tried freezing it ,so cannot comment on that.

5 from 3 votes
Ela Ada
Ela Ada – Vazha Ela Ada – Sweet Rice Dumplings

A traditional steamed rice dumpling with cardamom infused coconut and jaggery from South India that is made on special occasions , for offerings and festivities

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Indian, kerala, south Indian
Keyword: ela ada, jaggery, traditional, vazha ela ada, vegetarian
For the Rice Dough
  • 2 cups Rice flour or Pathiri powder
  • 2 1/4 cups Water
  • 1 tsp salt
Ada Filling
  • 2 cups grated coconut fresh
  • 1 1/2 cups jaggery
  • 3/4 tsp cardamom powdered
  • 1 pinch salt
To make the Rice Dough
  1. Boil water and add it to the flour

  2. Stir with a wooden spoon evenly

  3. Wait for the dough to cool for about 10 minutes

  4. Slowly work with your hands to form a big dough ball

  5. Add oil and form a smooth dough

To make the Filling
  1. In a pan take the fresh coconut , jaggery and a little water

  2. Heat on medium flame until the jaggery is completely melted

  3. Add the powdered cardamom and a pinch of salt

  4. Stir until the filling has no remaining moisture but not too dry.

To make the Dumpling
  1. Use the dough to make small balls and flatten with your palms

  2. Press it on a Pathiri press to get a nice round shape

  3. Add the filling and gently cover it to form a shape shown in the picture

  4. Seal the sides and wrap it in a banana leaf

  5. Place it in a steamer with boiling water

  6. Steam for about 10 to 15 minutes

  7. The Ada is ready to be served

Ela Ada - Steamed Rice Dumplings with coconut and jaggery
Ela Ada – Steamed Rice Dumplings with coconut and jaggery

‘Ela Ada’ is a soul food that brings warm memories of childhood and joyful times. Making , serving and eating this is truly a pleasure .Hope you enjoyed reading about this dish and the photos . Have you tried any recipes that uses banana leaves in cooking , would love to hear in the comments below. Have a wonderful day!

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  • Reply
    September 28, 2020 at 3:42 pm

    5 stars
    Beautifully Presented !!

  • Reply
    Chitra Sundaram
    September 28, 2020 at 3:56 pm

    Love it

  • Reply
    September 28, 2020 at 5:39 pm

    This looks so delicate and tasty. So interesting to see the technique of steaming with banana leaves. 🙂

    • Reply
      September 28, 2020 at 6:05 pm

      Thank you so much Ronit, the banana leaves help retain the moisture and imparts a nice flavor as well.

  • Reply
    Nisha Sharma
    September 29, 2020 at 1:24 am

    Oh I am a big fan of this, been ages since I had this though, have to try making it now. Thanks for sharing this

    • Reply
      September 29, 2020 at 2:16 am

      Wonderful to hear that Nisha , and happy to know you will try it out as well. Enjoy ! It’s my pleasure to share. Thank you for stopping by!

  • Reply
    Swarnali Das
    September 29, 2020 at 1:46 am

    5 stars
    I love this sweet dish, we Bengali called this “Puli Pithe”.


    • Reply
      September 29, 2020 at 1:57 am

      That’s wonderful to know Swarnali that you have a similar dish like this and that you love it. It’s really delicious indeed. Thank you so much!

  • Reply
    September 29, 2020 at 2:13 pm

    I love that dumplings show up in every culture! And why not, you can’t go wrong with bite-sized food with creative fillings 🙂 These seem fun to make and look delicious.

    • Reply
      September 29, 2020 at 4:08 pm

      Yes dumplings sure are in every culture! These are definitely fun to make and have. Thank you for stopping by!

  • Reply
    Aarthi | Prepbowls
    September 30, 2020 at 4:49 am

    Perfectly done dumplings! agreed, on the taste made with banana leaf , they have a distinct flavor to it and absolutely healthy. Love the coconut and jaggery filling, great recipe share! Nisha

    • Reply
      September 30, 2020 at 1:56 pm

      Thank you so much Aarthi, the banana leaf absolutely imparts a great flavor as you mention .The coconut jaggery filling in it is definitely loved by most folks. Glad you liked it.

  • Reply
    Christy B
    September 30, 2020 at 5:51 pm

    Wow, that dough looks amazing, well done on this recipe!

    • Reply
      September 30, 2020 at 7:14 pm

      Thanks so much Christy! It was truly satisfying making this 🙂

  • Reply
    October 1, 2020 at 4:50 am

    Oh my word does that look good! I love dumplings! I have never tasted jaggery what does it taste like? It must be nice having access to banana leaves too. I wish I could visit you for a week just to taste your food! Lol

    • Reply
      October 1, 2020 at 1:39 pm

      Thank you so much for the wonderful comments! Jaggery tastes a little like brown sugar and is said to be better than white sugar, in terms of health and nutrition , although still high in calories. The banana leaves definitely gives this dish the authentic taste . I’m not sure if the plant will last the winter though .It would definitely be my pleasure to host you Diane. You are very welcome anytime! I bet we would have lots to chat about and I can learn a tip or two from you as well. Have a fabulous day!

  • Reply
    October 1, 2020 at 5:28 pm

    Oh our Finger licking Ela ada, you presented beautifully dear friend !! 💌

    • Reply
      October 1, 2020 at 6:26 pm

      Exactly right it is indeed finger licking good for sure. Thank you for the wonderful comment Suni, appreciate it!

  • Reply
    October 2, 2020 at 3:25 pm

    5 stars
    Hi, sweet Nisha! Wow – this recipe looks yummy. I always learn so much from you. Jaggery is an ingredient I was entirely unfamiliar with. Thank you for introducing me to it. 🙂

    I was fascinated by the banana leaves. How is your banana plant doing? Do you have to bring it in during the cooler months or do you just let it stay outside? I’ve thought about growing one here as well so I am curious about your thoughts! Reading of their leaves having so many health benefits really intrigued me. Thanks, Nisha!

    Sending all of my love to you and your family. I always pray each of you is well, safe, happy, and extraordinarily blessed! 🌺

    • Reply
      October 2, 2020 at 5:50 pm

      Thank you so much Holly! Jaggery is very popular in India, I understand it is not known so much in the west.
      This is the first time I’ve grown a banana plant ,so will have to wait and see how it withstands the winter .It will stay outside this time. I think summers are a good time to grow them if you plan to do so. They thrive well in the hot and humid weather. Thank you again for your kind heartfelt wishes and prayers . Wish you and family the same as well. God bless.

  • Reply
    October 2, 2020 at 6:04 pm

    These sound amazing. I love dumplings but very rarely have them.

    • Reply
      October 2, 2020 at 9:36 pm

      Thank you so much Nyxie for the lovely comments. These dumplings are indeed delicious.

  • Reply
    November 17, 2020 at 1:55 pm

    Very tasty👌🏻

    • Reply
      November 17, 2020 at 3:27 pm

      Many Thanks for the visit and comments!

      • Reply
        November 17, 2020 at 3:33 pm

        It’s my pleasure🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻

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