Breakfast, Everyday Simple Recipes, Festival Recipes, Kerala Recipes, Snacks, South Indian, Sweets, Tiffin

Pazham Nurukku/Jaggery Coated Plantain/Steamed Plantain

Plantains are an integral part of Onam, the harvest festival of Kerala. Malayalis cannot think of an Onam without plantains. Keralites leverage plantain in all its forms and age. Raw plantains are deep fried and salted or jaggery coated to make chips, or used to make mezhukkupuratti (dry vegetable dish), erisseri, kalan etc. The ripe ones are steamed, cooked in jaggery, used to make payasam (kheer/sweet pudding), or eaten as is. The flower and the shoot (after peeling layers) are used to make dry vegetable dish. The peeled layers are used as binding ropes or for stringing garlands. Plantain leaves are used as plate to serve food and to make ela ada. In places with waterways, the shoots of a plantain are tied together to make a platform and used as a country boat.

Semi-ripe nenthra pazham

A very ripe plantain can be eaten as is without cooking. But semi ripe plantains should preferably be steamed or baked. I will share 4 simple recipes of ripe plantain here. One using overripe plantain and the other three using medium ripe plantain. Choose ripe yet firm plantain for steamed plantain. Slightly overripe plantains are best suited to make the jaggery coated plantain. This goes well with items like puttu or upma. It is also a healthy snack by itself.

Sweet banana cooked in jaggeryMethod 1:
Ingredients
Ripe Plantain – 2
Jaggery – 2 pieces
Water – 1/2 cup
Ghee – 1 tsp (optional)
Elaichi/cardamom powder – 1/4 tsp (optional)

Peel the plantain and remove the ends and the peel. Cut into two-inch round pieces. In a pan, pour water and add the jaggery pieces and heat until the jaggery melts. Strain to remove dirt if any. Put the ripe plantain pieces into this melted jaggery, cover with a lid, and cook for 5-7 minutes. Remove the lid and stir in between to ensure that the bananas do not stick to the bottom of the pan. When the water content reduces, the jaggery syrup thickens, and plantain pieces become tender, add ghee and elaichi powder. Turn off the fire and serve hot. You can even serve it cold. If you use firm plantain, they turn hard when cooked in jaggery. So make sure that you use ripe or overripe plantains. Note: I used organic jaggery and hence the dark color. Jaggery available in the market are heavily treated with chemicals which reduces the natural intense color.

Method 2:
Ripe Plantain – 1

Peel the plantain and remove the ends. Do not remove the peel. Cut into two inch round pieces. Steam them in an idli tray for 10 minutes until the plantain becomes tender. This is served with ela ada and fried papad for breakfast on the Thiruvonam day especially in the Malabar region. Plantains are fibrous and have high starch content. Steamed plantain is easily digestible especially for kids and the elderly and instantly boost energy levels.

Method 3:
Ripe Plantain – 1
Sugar – 1 tsp
Ghee (clarified butter) – 1 tbsp

This is a sinfully yummy shallow fried treat. Peel the skin and cut the plantain into thin vertical slices. Smear ghee on the hot griddle and place the plantain slices on ghee.

Frying bananas

Cook for a minute in medium to low fire. Flip when you notice the bottom of the plantain is turning golden brown. Sprinkle sugar.

Flip over

Remove from fire when the other side is sufficiently fried/cooked.

caramelized sugar on banana

Cooked

Method 4:
Ripe Plantain – 1

Another method of cooking plantain is to bake it in charcoal. Traditionally when meals were cooked using firewood, the coal would be hot even a couple of hours after all the cooking is done. Put the ripe plantains (with their skin) in between the hot coal. Make sure the plantains are fully embedded in the coal pieces. Take out after 5 minutes and smoky chargrilled plantains are ready.

I saw yet another interesting variety here. Truly yummy variation. Check it out.

Everyday Simple Recipes, Festival Recipes, Kerala Recipes, Sweets, Tiffin, Vegan

Ela Ada (Sweet Parcels)

Ela ada and steamed plantain

Ela in Malayalam means leaf (in this case banana leaf) and ada means thick flat bread. Back home at Palakkad, ela ada is a  must item on the day of Thiruvonam (harvest festival in Kerala) and sure shot on the menu when special people visit home. Ela ada, although a little time consuming, is a fairly easy dish to make. Nothing can go wrong with an ela ada. A mix of coconut and jaggery cannot be anything short of yummy. Simply coat this with a rice paste and steam it, and these sweet parcels are ready.

Elai adai

The ela ada filling offers a lot of room for creativity. My mother makes three versions, to be precise 4. One with the jaggery and coconut filling; another with jaggery, coconut, and jackfruit jam filling; another with coconut and sugar filling; and the one with coconut and salt filling. I have heard that in other parts of Kerala ela ada is made with beaten rice, jaggery, and banana pieces as fillings. Although I have never had this, it definitely sounds interesting.

Another reason ela ada is so unique is because they are steamed and contain no oil. One can eat them without feeling guilty although diabetics need to watch out for all that jaggery! Still, its better than sugar intake.

On a day my mother decides to make ela ada, all of us are in high spirits. We split the chores and participate in all the tasks, especially hunting for the banana leaves, cleaning the leaves and tearing them into appropriate pieces, adequately drying them in the sun, grating the coconut, and spreading the rice batter on the leaves. The filling is irresistibly tasty and as soon as it is made, a good portion of it disappears quickly into our tummies. Enough ranting about the ela ada. Let’s look at how to make these wrapped up irresistibles.

Ingredients for filling:

Coconut – 1 (medium size)
Jaggery – 250 gms
Jack fruit jam/Chakka Varatti – 1 cup (optional)
Cardamom/Elaichi powder – 1/2 tsp
Water – 1/2 cup

Method:
Grate the coconut and keep aside. Heat a thick deep bottomed vessel (kadai). Pour water and add jaggery. Let it melt completely. Turn off the fire and sieve to remove dirt from the jaggery. Clean the kadai and pour the jaggery syrup into the kadai and turn on the heat to medium. The syrup starts foaming and then settles down to thicken. Add the grated coconut and stir. When the water reduces and mixture thickens, add the jackfruit jam and elaichi powder. Remove from fire.

This is the stage where my mother has to fiercely guard the filling from me lest there is none left when it is finally time to make the ada! <<wicked grin>> On a more serious note, this filling is extremely tempting and is as good to be had without any further additions.

Ingredients for rice paste:
Raw rice (or rice powder) – 250 gms
Water – As needed
Gingely oil/til oil (optional) – 1 tsp

Filling and rice batter

Method:
You can make the batter in two different ways. The first method is more preferable as it gives better results where the rice coating on the adai is softer and does not stick to the outer leaf at all.

Method 1: Heat a cup of water and bring to boiling point. Once it starts bubbling, turn off the heat and add small quantities to the rice flour use a ladle to mix the water into the rice flour. Add a pinch of salt. Mix well to make a soft and firm dough. The consistency should be similar to that of idiyappam dough or modakam dough. Keep aside.

Method 2: Wash the rice and soak it in water for around 2-3 hours. Grind to make a fine and smooth paste. The batter should not be too watery or very thick. The consistency should be such that you should be able to spread it on a leaf using the back of a spatula. If you are using rice powder, simply mix water to the rice powder to prepare the batter. Keep the batter aside. You can add the gingely oil to the batter at this stage. This is optional. Wash, clean, and cut the banana leaves into small rectangle or square pieces. Turn on the gas stove flame to medium and show the banana leaf over the flame lightly ensuring that the leaf turns color but does not get burnt. This makes the leaf flexible and it can be folded easily without it breaking or causing it to tear.

Take the banana leaf bit and spread it inner side facing up. Take a ladle full of rice batter and spread it across the leaf leaving half inch space free on all sides. The rice batter should be spread like a thick dosa. If you are using the first method to make a tight dough of the rice flour, you may take a fistful of rice dough and use your fingers to pat it gently and spread a thin layer of dough on the leaf.

spread the rice paste

Take a spoon full of the filling and place it on one side of the rice spread on the banana leaf. Spread the filling in such a way that half the area of the spread rice should have the sweet filling as a topping.

Add filling

Grab the two ends of the leaf where the rice batter is without topping and fold this to the other ends of the leaf. Now the leaf has one folded side and three open sides. Lightly fold the top of the leaf and then the sides of the leaf that are open to make a sealed packet.

Repeat these steps to make similar packets until you either run out of batter, filling, or leaves. Leftover filling is not a problem at all. It is so delicious by itself and can be finished in a jiffy!

If you run out of filling mid way, instead of the filling you could add some grated coconut and sprinkle a spoon of sugar and make these sweet parcels. If you have a diabetic in the house, you could add adequate salt to the leftover batter, spread it on the leaf, and add grated coconut. You see, there is a parcel for everyone!

Arrange the sealed packets on an idli stand and steam cook for around 10-15 minutes. Turn off and allow it to cool for 5 minutes.

Steamed ela ada

When you open the packet, if the filling or the rice batter sticks only to one side, then it means that it is adequately cooked.

Opened-elai-adaiSteamed pan poli

 

 

 

 

 

Ela ada - sugar version

The aroma of steamed banana leaf combined with jaggery, jackfruit jam, and rice is heavenly.