Jackfruit Elayappam or Rice Dumplings Wrapped in Banana Leaf

Delicacy of Kerala…

Hope everyone had a fun Easter weekend. It was quite a relaxing weekend for me, as always it went in jet speed. On every Sunday night I wish if I could freeze that day so that Monday will never approach. Before my wish goes live, there pops out a question “If you freeze Sunday, wouldn’t you be missing out all the exciting things that’s in store for you??? I have no idea who’s asking me such questions though, may be the so called sub-conscious mind. Anyway, sounded fair to me, I immediately dropped my wish and instead felt blessed for having a wonderful long weekend and geared up to start a new week…

Friday evenings, we usually go on a date night, which means spending some quality time together of course with some good food and less screaming (at least we try :P). Last Friday, we dined at the Tasting Room, it’s a very popular French restaurant in my city. I so loved the food there. We had seared ahi tuna for appetizer, tuna was coated with sesame seeds and was served with two kinds of reductions. When I mentioned reduction, my hubby thought I was talking too much chemistry. I then had to explain to him that reduction is a cooking method in which the sauce is thickened and concentrated by boiling it. He nodded!!! Since it was seared, the inside of tuna was only slightly cooked, being a sushi fanatic it wasn’t disgusting at all. It tasted incredible and our waitress stood still seeing us emptying the plate in just a matter of seconds. Delicious food should be gobbled up!!! For main course, hubs had rack of lamb and I had lobster risotto. I was so blown away by the amount of lobster they had added to the risotto. Usually, if you order a lobster dish you would only get a teeny weeny bite of lobster, which is totally unfair considering the price they charge for the lobster dishes. After the dinner, our stomach was full and when the date night came to an end our hearts were full too.

Saturday went by quietly, but in the evening I bike escorted my man while he trained for his half marathon. We are participating in the marathon so have been practicing for that. Looking forward to April 29th to run run and run and then faint…

Sunday started with a bang as I made a real good breakfast: Apricot jam pancake and spinach frittata, which made my man very very very happy. After a while, when I opened my pantry I saw the canned jackfruit that I had bought from the Asian superstore. That stirred up a lot of memories in me. You must be thinking jackfruit and memories??? Yes, my hometown has an abundance of jackfruit and most houses have at least one jackfruit tree. When it’s in season, we just have to pluck it from the trees and make delicious dishes with it. My most favorite being jackfruit chips, homemade jackfruit chips are the best. My grandma always used to make jackfruit chips whenever she got hold of good raw jackfruit and it came along with her when she visited us. I still remember how my sister, my dad and I used to munch on it non-stop till we made sure it’s finished. It never lasted more than a few hours, we rocked!!!

Besides jackfruit chips, one of the traditional snacks made with ripe jackfruit is “Elayappam (Malayalam word) Ela means leaf and Appam means snack”. The leaf that’s used for making this snack is banana leaf as again in kerala we have an abundance of banana/plantain trees. Since this is a very traditional snack, it’s cooked in steam. The filling is made with ripe jackfruit which is pureed and cooked with jaggery (whole cane sugar) and combined with grated coconut. It’s more like a preserve, it’s then spread on rice dough, wrapped in banana leaf and steam cooked.

Here are a few variations, the filling can be either jackfruit preserve or even pumpkin preserve. Another variation is by using the cooked mung bean filling.

This snack is not just popular in Kerala, there is a snack very similar to this which is common in China as well. Chinese call it as “Zongi”. They use red bean paste as the filling and is wrapped in bamboo leaves or banana leaves, they are steam cooked too.

Elayappam or Rice Dumplings with jackfruit filling and wrapped in banana leaf

Makes: 8

Ingredients

For making the jackfruit filling 

  • Ripe Jackfruit, canned- 2 cans or 14 fresh ripe jackfruit
  • Jaggery- 2 large cubes as shown in picture below (or use brown sugar according to your sweet level)
  • Cardamom, whole smashed- 4
  • Water, to cook jackfruit- 3/4 cup
  • Grated coconut- 3/4 cup
  • Ghee- 1 to 2 tbsp
  • Water to cook coconut- 1/4 cup
  • Sugar- 1/4 cup

For making rice dough:

  • Rice flour- 1 1/2 cups
  • Water- 1 1/2 cups
  • Salt- 2 pinches

Other ingredients

  • Banana leaves, cut into medium sized squares- 8
  • Oil- to grease the leaves and hand

Instrucion

For making jackfruit filling:

First have the coconut ready:

  • Combine 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup sugar in a small pan and heat till the sugar dissolves.
  • Add grated coconut to the sugar syrup and cook till the water has dried off. Don’t brown the coconut. Keep aside.
  • Jaggery that I used, it comes in different size and shape so please add according to your sweet level. Don’t add too much as the coconut is cooked in sugar syrup too.
Jackfruit filling:
  • I used canned jackfruit in sugar syrup. If using canned, rinse the jackfruit under running water and chop it into small slices.
  • Place a saucepan over medium heat, add chopped jackfruit, jaggery, cardamom smashed and 3/4 cup water into the pan.
  • Cook covered till the jaggery dissolves and jackfruit has cooked well.
  • Remove from the heat, let cool down a bit.
  • Puree the jackfruit in a blender to a smooth paste.
  • Return the pureed jackfruit to the pan, add 1 tbsp ghee to it and cook while stirring it. 
  • Add cooked coconut to the pureed jackfruit and combine well.
  • Let cook for some more time, if you want you could add 1 tbsp more of the ghee.
  • Remove the jackfruit preserve from the heat and let cool down.
  • At this point, I was taking deep breaths in and couldn’t stop tasting…Gosh, the aroma from this filling is just amazing.

Making rice dough:

  • Place a saucepan over medium heat, add 1 1/2 cups water to it.
  • Let the water come to a rolling boil, add salt to it.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and slowly add rice flour to the water.
  • Using a wooden spoon, combine it to the water.
  • Let cool down a bit, knead the dough when it’s still warm so that it will become soft.
  • Knead well and make medium sized balls out of it, around 8 dough balls.

How to wilt banana leaves:

  • I used frozen banana leaves, if using frozen thaw it for a few minutes and wash it under running water.
  • Cut into square shapes, around 8 .
  • Heat a large non-stick pan over medium heat, place the banana leaf over it for a second and turn it to the other side.
  • By slightly heating the banana leaves it will wilt and this prevents it from breaking apart while wrapping.
  • You could even place the leaf over the stove flame for a second.
Assembling:
  • Place the wilted banana leaf over a cutting board.
  • Grease the leaf with little oil.
  • Place the dough ball on the middle of the leaf.
  • Grease your right palm with little oil too, to prevent the dough from sticking.
  • Using your palm gently press and spread the dough into the leaf and make a thin round kinda shape.
  • Spread 1 to 2 tbsp of prepared jackfruit filling over the dough.
  • Fold over the dough into semi circle shape.
  • Seal the sides of the dough by pressing it to each other.
  • Fold the banana leaf over it, fold the sides of the banana leaf and tuck it in. Place the folded side down. If you want you could tie with a kitchen twine. 
How to steam cook:
  • You could steam cook this in a steamer or in an Idiyappam maker or pressure cooker.
  • In an Idiyappam maker, you can place all of them on the bottom plate, just stack up.
  • Add some water to the cooker, place the plate with the elayappam into the cooker. Make sure water is not getting into the plate.
  • Cover and steam cook for about 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Steam cooking in pressure cooker: Add some water into the cooker, place a small plate stand and on top of that place the plate that has the elayappams.
  • Make sure water is not getting into the plate.
  • Cover with the lid and steam cook without placing the whistle on the cooker for about 15- 20 minutes.
  • Once it’s cooked, remove the cooker from the stove.
  • Let cool down for sometime as it will be very hot.
  • Open the lid and take the cooked elayappams out.
  • Don’t unwrap the elayappams, it should be served wrapped up in the banana leaf.
  • The aroma of the jackfruit filling and the wilted banana leaf is just seducing and you’ll enjoy not 1 or 2 but many.
  • Leftovers can be refrigerated.

Tips:

Meet the other fillings you can use instead of jackfruit filling or preserve:

  • You could use store bought pumpkin preserve that is used for making pumpkin pie instead of jackfruit preserve. It tastes very close to that of jackfruit elayappam. You can skip making the filling, how exciting!
  • Mung bean filling: Cook mung bean in water, drain the water. Combine the cooked mung bean with jaggery, cardamom and grated coconut, cook till mung bean has slightly mashed up. Use this as the filling.
  • Coconut filling: Just combine grated coconut with jaggery and cardamom till the raw flavor of coconut is gone. This makes an easy filling.
  • You could use brown sugar instead of jaggery, just add brown sugar according to your sugar level.
  • Traditional way of making filling: Traditionally, jaggery is melted in water and made into a thick syrup. Ripe Jackfruit is pureed into a coarse paste which is then combined with the jaggery syrup and coconut. I made in a much easier way. I know grandma’s in Kerala are not going to be happy with my method, boohoo 🙁

 

Jackfruit Elayappam or Rice Dumplings Wrapped in Banana Leaf
Author: 
 
Ingredients
For making the jackfruit filling or preserve
  • Ripe Jackfruit, canned- 2 cans or 14 fresh ripe jackfruit
  • Jaggery- 2 large cubes as shown in picture below (or use brown sugar according to your sweet level)
  • Cardamom, whole smashed- 4
  • Water, to cook jackfruit- ¾ cup
  • Grated coconut- ¾ cup
  • Ghee- 1 to 2 tbsp
  • Water to cook coconut- ¼ cup
  • Sugar- ¼ cup
For making rice dough
  • Rice flour- 1½ cups
  • Water- 1½ cups
  • Salt- 2 pinches
Other ingredients
  • Banana leaves, cut into medium sized squares- 8
  • Oil- to grease the leaves and hand
Instructions
For making jackfruit filling
  1. First have the coconut ready:
  2. Combine ¼ cup water and ¼ cup sugar in a small pan and heat it till the sugar dissolves.
  3. Add grated coconut to the sugar syrup and cook till the water has dried off. Don't brown the coconut. Keep aside.
  4. Jaggery that I used, it comes in different size and shape so please add according to your needs. Don't add too much as the coconut is cooked in sugar syrup too.
Jackfruit preserve
  1. I used canned jackfruit in sugar syrup. If using canned, rinse the jackfruit under running water and chop it into small.
  2. Place a saucepan over medium heat, add chopped jackfruit, jaggery, cardamom smashed and ¾ cup water into the pan.
  3. Cook covered till the jaggery dissolves and jackfruit has cooked well.
  4. Remove from the heat, let cool down a bit.
  5. Puree the jackfruit in a blender to a smooth paste.
  6. Return the pureed jackfruit to the pan, add 1 tbsp ghee to it and cook while stirring it.
  7. Add cooked coconut to the pureed jackfruit and combine well.
  8. Let cook for some more time, if you want you could add 1 tbsp more of ghee.
  9. Remove the jackfruit preserve from the heat and let cool down.
  10. At this point, I was taking deep breaths in and in and in and couldn't stop tasting...Gosh, the aroma from this filling is just amazing.
Making rice dough
  1. Place a saucepan over medium heat, add 1½ cups water to it.
  2. Let the water come to a rolling boil, add salt to it.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and slowly add rice flour to the water.
  4. Using a wooden spoon, combine it to the water.
  5. Let cool down a bit, knead the dough when it's still warm so that it will become soft.
  6. Knead well and make medium sized balls out of it, around 8 dough balls.
How to wilt banana leaves
  1. I used frozen banana leaves, if using frozen thaw it for a few minutes and wash it under running water.
  2. Cut into square shapes, about 8 no's.
  3. Heat a large non-stick pan over medium heat, place the banana leaf over it for a second and turn it to the other side.
  4. By slightly heating the banana leaves it will wilt and this prevents it from breaking apart while wrapping.
  5. You could even place the leaf over the stove flame for a second.
Assembling
  1. Place the wilted banana leaf over a cutting board.
  2. Grease the leaf with little oil.
  3. Place the dough ball on the middle of the leaf.
  4. Grease your right palm with little oil too, to prevent the dough from sticking.
  5. Using your palm gently press and spread the dough into the leaf and make a thin round kinda shape.
  6. Spread 1 to 2 tbsp of prepared jackfruit over the dough.
  7. Fold over the dough into semi circle shape.
  8. Seal the sides of the dough by pressing it to each other.
  9. Fold the banana leaf over it, fold the sides of the banana leaf and tuck it in. Place the folded side down. If you want you could tie with a kitchen twine.
How to steam cook
  1. You could steam cook this in a steamer or in an Idiyappam maker or pressure cooker.
  2. In an Idiyappam maker, you can place all of them on the bottom plate, just stack up.
  3. Add some water to the cooker, place the plate with the elayappam into the cooker. Make sure water is not getting into the plate.
  4. Cover and steam cook for about 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Steam cooking in pressure cooker: Add some water into the cooker, place a small plate stand and on top of that place the plate that has the elayappams.
  6. Make sure water is not getting into the plate.
  7. Cover with the lid and steam cook without placing the whistle on the cooker for about 15- 20 minutes.
  8. Once it's cooked, remove the cooker from the stove.
  9. Let cool down for sometime as it will be very hot.
  10. Open the lid and take the cooked elayappams out.
  11. Don't unwrap the elayappams, it should be served wrapped up in the banana leaf.
  12. The aroma of the jackfruit filling and the wilted banana leaf is just seducing and you'll enjoy not 1 or 2 but many.
  13. Leftovers can be refrigerated.
Notes
Meet the other fillings you can use instead of jackfruit preserve:

You could use store bought pumpkin preserve that is used for making pumpkin pie instead of jackfruit preserve. It tastes very close to that of jackfruit elayappam. You can skip making the filling, how exciting!
Mung bean filling: Cook mung bean in water, drain the water. Combine the cooked mung bean with jaggery, cardamom and grated coconut, cook till mung bean has slightly mashed up. Use this as the filling.
Coconut filling: Just combine grated coconut with jaggery and cardamom till the raw flavor of coconut is gone. This makes an easy filling.
You could use brown sugar instead of jaggery, just add brown sugar according to your sugar level.
Traditional way of making filling: Traditionally, jaggery is melted in water and made into a thick syrup. Ripe Jackfruit is pureed into a coarse paste which is then combined with the jaggery syrup and coconut. I made in a much easier way. I know grandma's in Kerala are not going to be happy with my method, boohoo 🙁

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