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Monday, 5 September 2011

Yelai Vadaam (Steamed Rice Pancakes)

I guess most of you wouldn't have heard of "Yelai Vadaam". It is one of the lesser known foods of the Iyengars (a caste in South-India). South-Indian food is usually very healthy with subtle flavors, steamed or cooked with a minimum oil. It has all the goodness required to nourish our mind, body & soul. And yet, we go looking out for cheese, sauce, pasta etc! :-D Well, as they say - the grass is greener on the other side.

Anyways, back to Yelai Vadaam - it's an endangered specie! My grandmothers used to make them often! Until last year, I used to beg my mom to make it and she used to oblige like once a year! But not anymore! Coz I've realized how simple this dish is! ☺It is a time consuming process - but so worth the effort!

"Yelai" in TAMIL (a south-Indian language) means LEAF. This dish is usually made on a palaash or banana leaf. Although, these days, you have a variety of other options! :-)This is perfect for breakfast (although you have to PLAN!) or a snack..

(This makes enough for 2 people)
Things you'll need
Plain White Rice- 200 grams
Asafoetida / Hing/ Perungaayam - 2 teaspoon
Carom Seeds / Ajwain / Omam - 1 tablespoon
Jeera / Cumin seeds - 1 tablespoon
Salt - to taste around 3 teaspoons
Oil - as required (1 teaspoon)
Lemon juice - 1-2 teaspoons (optional: only if the batter has not fermented fully)
Green Chili paste - 1 tablespoon (optional)
** Banana Leaf & Rice cooker
OR an  elai vadaam stand
OR a stand to hold plates & steam
*** If you don't find banana leaf, you can use the other method of steaming them on a plate. OR you could use any edible large leaf OR saran wrap that hold up when steamed

ALTERNATIVE  1: Using Banana Leaves

1. Soak the white rice for 2-3 hours.

2. Drain & grind the rice with little water into a thin batter. Add the salt, mix well & leave it in room temperature for 2-3 DAYS. I have a huge grinder at home. I used that. Use only if you intend on grinding large amounts of batter! A normal mixer/blender is okay for small quantities.

3. After the 2nd or 3rd day - add asafoetida, cumin/carom seeds, adjust salt and mix well. It should be of pouring consistency. Since the batter has been kept for 2-3 days, it must have become sour. This is perfectly okay. Add lemon juice if you want more sourness.

4. Keep the steamer ready. Invert a large vessel on it & heat 2 cups of water in it.
5. Take the banana leaf and cut it into 4 quarters. smear it with a drop of vegetable oil. Now spread about a ladle-full of batter onto the banana leaf (you have to do this one at a time), in a circular motion (like you would for a dosa/pancake) and try to spread it as thin as possible.

6. Carefully place the leaf on the vessel in the steamer. Close the lid & steam (cook without whistle) for about 2-3 minutes.

7. You could just peel it off the leaf and eat it hot; Or you could roll it up into a cigar-shape; Or, you could add some stir-fried veggies and roll up to make a steamed Indian-style spring roll! Or you could eat it with molagai podi (more on this later)

ALTERNATIVE 2: In case you don't get a banana leaf :-
1. The steps 1-4 are the same.
2. Keep the yelai vadaam stand ready. It is a stand with detachable thin pates to make this dish. Smear a drop of oil onto the plates & put the batter on the plates (as thin as possible)

3. Arrange the plates on the stand & steam it for about 2-3 minutes.
4. Peel & eat! If you are finding it difficult to peel, use some water to moisten the edges!

ALTERNATIVE 3: Use flat plates.
If you can't do the 1st or the 2nd option, here's another way of making it -
1. Again, steps 1-4 are the same.
2. Heat water in a deep bottomed pan. Invert a large vessel with flat bottom.
3. Take a flat plate, smear some oil & pour the batter.
4. Keep the plate on the flat-bottomed vessel. Close the whole pan wih a large vessel & let it steam for 2-3 minutes.
5. Peel & Enjoy!

Once you make these, you can either eat them up right away, or dry them up & fry & eat! That tastes lovely too!

VERDICT: ooo! Its was lovely! I love its texture! Me and my dad just compete with each other to decide who gets the larger share! We both love it steaming hot while my brother likes it dried & fried! Inspite of making over 100 Rice pancakes (yelai vadaams) we gobbled it up in 10 minutes! And we saved only 8 of them for my brother! ;-)

I'm sending this post to Krithi and Denny's "Serve it Steamed" Event!
Also sending it to Radhika's Let's cook - Scrumptious Breakfast event
This is the VERY FIRST time I'm participating in a food blog event!  Although I don't expect to win, (you should see some of the entries! What perfection!!! Compared to theirs, mine is very simple!) I thoroughly loved cooking for the event PLUS eating it too! :)


  1. Even its time consuming, definitely worth to try...awesome job..

  2. Thanks so much Priya & Saru! :)

  3. Awesome .. not sure if I have the patience to do it :)

    Event: Herbs and Flowers - Garlic

  4. This looks really lovely.. thanks for sending over to the event...
    Krithi's Kitchen
    Event: Serve It - Steamed

  5. @Vardhini - Haha! Its not so time consuming if you plan onmaking less! :D Thank you!

    @Krithi - thanks so much Krithi! Loved your concept!

  6. This is ne for me :) thnks for shrin

  7. Wow..nice steamed version...,i love to try this recipe..i too posted steamed recipe 2 days back in my blog,visit my blog.

  8. Do try it the easier way notyet100! :)

    @Rani - I am following you! :)

  9. Loved this post and your detailed step by step method and the variations! :-).What an interesting recipe and surprise was keeping the batter for 2-3 days. Bookmarked.

  10. @ ?- Ha ha! :D Thanks so much!

  11. awesome step wise pictures & instructions

  12. Wow...hearing about this for the 1st time! You have great patience Kavi! :)

    I would love to try some..but not having patience..also don't have the required equipments(!) here! hehehe! :D


Thanks for the feedback! :-)

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