Monday, April 07, 2008

Summer goodies #1 - Ela vadam

"Unbearably hot" is an understatement when it comes to describing Chennai summers. The bright sun blazing its way through the thick curtains in your bedroom lets you know in no uncertain terms that summer is here to stay whether you like it or not. When your sweat glands produce just about as much sweat as the water you consume plus some more, you know there's no escape. You have to brace yourself for the next few months and make the best of it.
Nature does have its own ways to help you cope...there are all those luscious fruits that line the shelves of your grocer.....the juice stalls that are constanly busy this time of the year....mangoes from different parts of India - some sweet, some with a hint of tanginess....that is the silver lining behind the cloud.
Summer is also the season when most of the seasonal produce is preserved in different forms for use during the rest of the year. Pickles, vathals and vadams are made and stored and enjoyed all round the year.
There's two ways to putting a vadam on your plate.....
1. Go to a store. Find your favourite vadam. Bring it back home. Fry in oil and that's it.
2. Wake up at an ungodly hour.....the said hour for me was 5.45....not so ungodly for many, but hey, I like my beauty sleep. Hurry up and make the vadams before that little girl wakes up and comes in and demands that anything that's not 2 years old should be relegated to the outer bounds of your attention. Make vadam. Dry it in the sun for days until it is ready for use and then fry them in oil.
No prizes for guessing which method Iam going to talk about here.
Yeah, me crazy...but there's just something about all that hot sun that made me want to try this out from scratch. This is my first attempt at making vadams. It takes up quite a bit of your make sure you do this when you're sure there aren't going to be any interruptions.
Alright, let's put on our aprons....and start making vadams.

What you need:
Raw rice - 1 cup
Parboiled rice - 1 cup
Salt - to taste
Green chilli - 2 or to taste (remember, we just want a hint of spiciness here...not a super spicy vadam that would require its own side dish)
Black sesame seeds - 1 tsp, soaked in water for ten minutes

You also need an ela vadam stand and vadam plates.

Grind the rice to a smooth paste adding just as little water as needed. Add salt and leave it covered overnight. Next morning, grind the green chillies to a smooth paste. Add a little bit of the rice batter to the chillies while grinding so that it blends in smoothly and then mix it in with the rest of the batter. Drain the sesame seeds of water and add to the batter. Check for salt and add more if needed. The batter should not be very runny. It should be of pourable consistency.Heat some water in an idli cooker. Grease the vadam plates. Pour a small amount of batter on the plate and spread it into a circle. It should not be spread too thick or too thin. If you spread it too thick, the vadam does not turn out well when fried and if it is too thin, you won't be able to take it off the plate without tearing it.Stack the plates on the vadam stand and steam in the idli cooker for 3-4 minutes.When the vadam is cooked, it changes colour and becomes shiny.
Remove the plates from the cooker. Let it cool for a few seconds....and then ease one end of the vadam out with a knife.
Pull out the vadam carefully without tearing it and transfer it to a plastic sheet.
Follow these steps until all the batter is used up. You should have about 35 vadams if you follow this recipe.If you have the luxury of some open space with lots of sunshine, dry the vadams there. If not, don't worry...these vadams dry quite well even under the fan. It should dry completely in one or two days, depending on the intensity of sunlight.
Once dried, fry them in hot oil and serve with rice.


Passionate baker...& beyond said...

WOW...that's neat. Never thought that there were contraptions like vandam stands too. Best use of the blazing summer sun! My kids LOVE papads!

ANJALI J. said...

Hey Jayashree, thats a different recipe.. i had seen it, but never tried.looks great.

ms said...

My all time favorite! Except I like it better made on banana leaves cos I like it fresh. Cant wait until its dry.

Divya said...

Hey Jayshree..Vadams look very nice.I totally agree about the Chennai summer!!!BTW do we really need to dry it for 2-3 days??The way its going I think 1 day is more than enough if kept under blazing Chennai sun..??;-)

Jayashree said...

Passionate baker - ty for stopping by.
Anjali, thank you..
MS, Iam sure it will taste fab if steamed on banana leaves.
Divya, you r in chennai one full day of sunlight is more than enough...but what I meant is that it might take upto 2 days depending on where you are and whether you get lots of sunshine or not.

Jayashree said...

Passionate baker - ty for stopping by.
Anjali, thank you..
MS, Iam sure it will taste fab if steamed on banana leaves.
Divya, you r in chennai one full day of sunlight is more than enough...but what I meant is that it might take upto 2 days depending on where you are and whether you get lots of sunshine or not.

Happy cook said...

Wow you made this at home.
I am comming over it looks so delicious.
Wish we had some sunny weather here.
It is still cole here.

Uma said...

looks delicious! Never heard of it before. Nice pics.

kamala said...

summer starts ....vadam season too.I miss India and vadam making.

Seena said...

This is first time am seeing.. nice info.

Siri said...

U know what - I just love love these vadams!.. and when my grandmom used to make these, I used to eat up all the cooked batter!.. its soo yummy..:)) weird na!

there is a guessing game on my blog.. wanna try??


A-kay said...

wow... I have never heard or had this elai vadaam. Now tell me, what are the alternatives to the vadam stands that I can use? I love javvarisi vadam though :) Every year I think of making it, but don't - may be this year I will.

Dhivya said...

looks so crisp and yummy

Sagari said...

Never seen that stand ,nice pics jayashree and the lastttt pic looks soo tempting

Jayashree said...

HC, come on over and don't forget to bring some of that delcious looking kadala curry.
Uma, Kamala, Seena...thank you.
Siri, I already did take part and make a fool of myself :-))
A-kay, I have a batch of javvarisi vadams drying on my terrace as I type this.
Dhivya, thx
Sagari...I like the last pic best too.

easycrafts said...

I get these ready made from my mom and mil...they make different varieties,,,will try to share them

Cham said...

Vadam recipe is great, 2 years back i tried in California in summer time, but it didn't turn so good. I had an idea to redo again, probably ur recipe will help me. I bookmarked it.

Meera said...

That looks awesome. I recently read about Vadam making in Shoba Narayan's book - monsoon diary.So was curious how it looks like. Thanks for sharing.
I loved that vadam stand too. Didn't know it's available.

Vaishali said...

Jayashree, Eating vadams at my mother-in-law's home in the blazing hot summers of Chennai are a favorite memory. Your vadams look very special and totally delicious.

mitr_bayarea said...


reading your blog made me miss nostalgic vadam days in Chennai, esp. during the summer months. Here in US, even in Bay Area, we don't have full sumemr yet, so can only taste the vadams that come from home.

Cilantro said...

The Vadam stand is new to me... Amma dried them under the sun. I am going to buy one during my India visit. Please let me know where you got it to make it easier for me.

Andhra Flavors said...

Hi jayashree, Iam looking for this recipe. Actually i forgot that measures. Thankyou

Arundathi said...

jayashree - my mom used to make these ela vadam steam on banana leaves - ie before it dries, we'd eat it up, i think. its way too complicated - but i've gotta find the recipe. its similar but eaten fresh, not dried. its quite yummy.
i love this version too - love that chewy vadam with thair.

Mona said...

thanks for the looks gr8.

Vasi said...


Thanks :-)

Me... said...

Hi Jayashree,

I LOVE Ela Vadams...period!!! We used to make t his every year during summer. My grandmother and me used to make the vadams and steam them. My sisters would take them out to dry on the mat. After so many reps, when we go out the vadams wd be very less. Then we realised that my sisters would eat them as they were arranging them to dry!!! SO yummy eaten just steamed, half dry or fried in oil. YUM!!!
Do visit my site when you have the time.