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Elai Vadam (Thali Vadam)

 Published 2012-May-14   Updated 2016-Aug-23

- Submitted by Raji Ramakrishnan

(Ilai Vadam, Yelai Vadam, Arisi Vadam, Thali Vadaam)

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Today I am going to share my favorite recipe from my ammamma’s (grandmother’s) kitchen. I am the only granddaughter to my grandparents, rest all are grandsons to them. Hence I was really pampered a lot by them, especially my grandmother. To me, she has always been like a second mother. I consider myself to be really blessed by almighty, where even at this age of mine; I continue to get my grandmothers blessings, affection and also her famous vadaams, pickles, podis etc.which are the yummiest in the universe. 

Coming back to the recipe, today I am going to share with you all a kind of vadam (sun dried item which can be stored and used throughout the year) called as the elai vadam or thali vadaam. “Yelai” in Tamil means leaf and since the batter of these vadaam gets cooked in a banana leaf it gets its name. But these days, yelai vadaam stand is readily available and the vadaams can be made using that. I would recommend buying 2 sets of plates with the stand as it will reduce the time consumption. While one set is getting steamed, you can remove the vadaams from the already steamed ones.

The freshly steamed vadaam that is taken out from the yelai or plate is very tasty and delicious. My grandmother would just make the steamed version for me as a snack. The yelai vadaam is very versatile too. If you do not have enough sun to dry, it can be dried in shade too or even under fan. This vadaam can be deep fried in oil, roasted directly under fire or even micro waved. The roasted yelai vadaam or the micro waved one is given as an accompaniment in “Patthiya samayal” (the food given to a woman after a child delivery). It tastes heavenly in that menu. I jokingly say to my friends, one should eat our Indian food, which was traditionally made by our grandmothers, and then there will not be any post-partum depression in rise.

Have fun in making this vadam and you will also enjoy making as much as I did. Cheers!!

Recipe for Elai Vadam

Preparation time: 12 hours (including soaking and fermentation time)
Cooking time: 1 hour


  • Rice - 1 cup
  • Black (or white) sesame seeds - 1 tsp
  • Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
  • Salt
  • Green chili - 2-3 (increase/decrease according to your choice)


  1. Soak the rice for 3-4 hours. Grind to a fine paste along with salt and green chili. Add water gradually while grinding.
  2. Allow to ferment for 7-8 hrs or overnight.  In the morning, you will get a nice fermented aroma from it.
  3. Now mix in the sesame seeds and cumin seeds. You can also add either one.

    Elai Vadam Steps

  4. In a small bowl take 2-3 tsp of water and add one teaspoon oil in it. Take a small piece of cloth, dip in it and smear the vadam thattu with with oil mixed water. If you are using banana leaves, cut  it into small squares and grease it.
  5. Get the steamer ready by boiling some water. Usually, I take a big vessel and add some water. Place a circular ring or any vessel to hold the vadam plates at a height. Also you need a lid. 
  6. Take a spoonful of the batter and spread it on the banana leaf or vadam plate like you spread the dosa.

    Elai Vadam Steps

  7. Keep it in the stand and steam it for just a minute. Actually it takes less than a minute. The moment you see the color change and become transparent, you can remove the leaf from the stand and allow to cool.

    Elai Vadam Steps

  8. Apply oil in your palm and carefully peel it off from the plate (or banana leaf). 
  9. Spread a plastic sheet or cotton cloth for drying the vadams under the ceiling fan. As soon as you remove the vadams, place them on the sheet or cloth and let it air dry for a day or two.

    Elai Vadam Steps Elai Vadam Steps

Serving Elai Vadaam

  • You can eat the steamed vadam just plain as such. My son loves to eat it raw (plain).
  • After drying it, you can store it in an airtight box for up to a year. Whenever needed, fry it like the normal papads. Take slightly large amount of oil in a big kadai (Heavily bottomed vessel) as the elai vadams are slightly bigger than the typical ones. Heat the oil very well, not to its smoking point, but a little hotter than what we use for frying pooris. You can test by putting a small piece into the oil, if it rises up then it is sufficiently hot to fry. Fry the vadams and enjoy with rice and some curry.
  • You can also roast it in open flame or microwave it.


  • These days elai vadam stand and plates are commercially available as shown in the picture.
  • Add the water little by little while grinding. A watery batter will be difficult to fix or rectify.
  • The vadaam will stick to the plate if it is not properly steamed or greased. A perfectly steamed vadaam can be peeled easily after slightly loosening the edges.
  • Be careful in not over steaming the vadaams else cracks will form on the same.

Elai Vadam

Elai Vadam

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1 cup means 240ml cfk.
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 Published by on and last updated on 2016-08-23.