Ela Ada


A dear friend, who happens to be mallu and takes his food very seriously, introduced me to some of his favourite Malabari food joints – Madina Hotel and Sneha Restaurant, both in Mahim opposite Paradise Cinema. I visited Madina first, and was so taken up its authenticity and honesty, that I began an exploration of Malabari food in Mumbai and found a whole lot of very interesting places just like it. I cannot believe these eateries have been hiding from me in plain view all these years! Following this little research, I wrote a piece for Mumbai Mag, which lists some of the city’s oldest and finest Kerala food joints.

Yesterday, I had some work in Bandra, which was conveniently followed by a quick lunch at Sneha Restaurant. Our meal was quite simple – sinful, flaky parotas, with spicy beef fry and fiery chicken sukha. At the end of the meal, the man serving us asked whether we’d like dessert. I was quite surprised that they even made sweets, and asked him what he had. He mumbled something inaudible and made a triangle shape with his fingers. I picked up a few words “banana leaf”, “steamed” and “acha hai!“. I couldn’t tell whether he didn’t speak Hindi, or was shy because he was speaking to a ‘ladis person’ or was trying to impress us with English words. Whatever he said convinced me I wanted that dessert even though I was quite full. So we asked him to pack one.

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All the way home I held a warm package in my hand imagining what lay within. (Yes, I’m that dramatic). In the half an hour it took us to reach, my curiosity had peaked and a little space in my tummy seemed to have become available! Inside the triangular banana leaf parcel was a rice flour pancake, which had been stuffed with sweetened fresh coconut and little chunks of banana. The flavour of the banana leaf had infused into the slightly gelatinous rice flour. The coconut and banana stuffing was warm, juicy and minimally sweetened. With a little help from Google I found out that this simple, delicious preparation is called Ela Ada – absolutely loved every bite!

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