Vegetarian Concoctions

April 24, 2007

Yelai Vadam

Filed under: Microwave, RCI, Rice, Snacks and Appetizers, South Indian, Tamilnadu — Hema @ 9:52 am

Yelai is leaf in tamil and vadams are rice crisps. The name is yelai vadam, because they are traditionally made using banana leaves. Basically vadams are like rice dosas that are dried and can be stored for a long time. Every time you feel the need to accessorise your menu or simply munch something, fry them or even microwave them to instantly satisfy your taste-buds. This is my entry for the first RCI – Tamilnadu hosted by LakshmiK at Veggie cuisine.

My amma used to make a huge stock of vadams for the year and she dedicated a couple days in a year to fill up the big box in her pantry. My brother and I always made sure we were around when she made vadams. The best part of the process was eating the freshly steamed vadam right out of the leaf. My mom used to let us eat the vadams that tore out while talking them off the leaf and both of us used to greedily sit there waiting for vadams to tear up.

I always bring these vadams from India, but by the time we reach our destination, they crumble up into tiny pieces during the transit. Though they are almost weightless, they occupy a lot of space in the luggage. Making these vadams is a time consuming process and only half of what you make ends up on the drying plate – the other half consumed as soon as they are made.

Last year we used up the last of our vadam stock and I had put it up on the list of things to be brought from India during our next trip. Then, one day my mother-in-law, who was visiting us, dressed the dining table with these beautiful, white, fried vadams and we were surprised as to how she got them! She had made vadams while we were at work and secretly dried them. What a pleasent surprise it was! So, the next thing on my agenda was to learn how she made them and then make them myself. Here is what I learnt:

Soak 1 cup rice overnight and grind it into a very fine paste. The best way to do it is to soak an extra cup when you grind rice for dosa. Add a little bit of salt (about 1/2 tsp) and keep it covered for 3-4 days. Open the lid and if someone in the living room says ‘where is that sour smell coming from?’ it is enough indication that the batter is ready to be steamed. Without disturbing the liquid inside, carefully pour out the top yellow layer into the drain. Add a pinch of hing, Salt to taste (remember, you have already added some 4 days back!) and 1 1/2 tsp jeera. Also, add a tbsp of sago soaked for about 2 hours. 


Get 3 stainless steel plates out of your cabinet and rub some ghee on each of them. (the plates we use as lids are perfect). Oh! did I mention, we will be making thattu(plate in tamil) vadams instead? yeah. I can never find banana leaves here and this works just as well. Infact, MIL says she will continue making them in plates when she gets back to India. Ok, to start with, you will need a steaming set-up. Here’s mine.  A pan filled with water to about an inch depth. A circular rim placed in the pan to hold the plates at height and a glass lid that covers the whole pan. Make sure the water is boiling before you start steaming vadams.


Pour a spoonfull of batter onto plate 1 and with a circular/spiral motion spread out the batter as thin as possible – just as you would make a dosa.


Place plate-1 in the pan and close the lid. Steam for about 2-3 minutes till the batter is cooked and gets transparent. In the meanwhile spread out some batter onto plate-2. Remove plate-1, place plate-2 in the pan and spread batter on plate-3.


Let plate-1 stay out for a while to cool down. Use a knife to peel off one edge and using both hands peel the vadam from the plate. Repeat this process with the 3 plates. After 2 -3 cycles you get into the rhythm.


This is the stage where you make an important decision. You could either pop it into your mouth or place it on a flat surface for drying. I recommend tasting the first one for salt. For drying, I usually spread a thick plastic sheet in my patio and place the vadams as close as possible to accomodate as many as I can. Do not overlap. I do not have an open deck and never get direct sunlight. So, if you are like me, worry not! The vadams do not require direct sunlight or too much heat. Even your dining table or a spare room is fine. make sure it gets some breeze to dry itself up. It may take about 4-5 days to completely dry in such cases. For those of you who have decks/terrace and lots of sunlight, you’ll will be ready to fry them in a day or two! Store the dry vadams in an airtight container.


They go well with all the rice preparations – pulihorai, tomato rice, mint rice…you get the idea. They taste best when deep fried, but for the health conscious – rub a few drops of oil on the dry vadam and microwave on high for about 30-40 seconds.


Here’s my fried yalai vadam with celery thokku rice. Celery thokku?….did you ask??? Yeah and that’s coming up next for JFI-Greens!!



  1. That’s like a Papad, right. Beautiful step by step pics and the last one is a killer

    Comment by sandeepa — April 24, 2007 @ 10:11 am

  2. OMG!!! Hema,my ajji makes these,we call it Akki Happala in Kannada and I always to make these but didn’t know how.
    Thanks a bunch for this authentic recipe.I always thought it’s sun dried on a plasic shet like we Sandiges.
    Great instruction.I will try although my kids hate the smell of rice sour dough!!Oh well..;D

    Comment by asha — April 24, 2007 @ 10:48 am

  3. amazing technique and end result. that is truly a labour of love.

    Comment by bee — April 24, 2007 @ 11:37 am

  4. oh my! such gorgeous & tempting step by step pics!! i’m on my way, please save some for me 😉
    will gladly trade for bhalle 😉
    btw thanks for ur kind words on my blog.

    Comment by Richa — April 24, 2007 @ 12:13 pm

  5. Hema, that looks so pristine! I remember having these growingup!.Thanks so much for the step by step pics! I am going to try it this weekend and let you know!

    Comment by Vee — April 24, 2007 @ 12:28 pm

  6. WOW!! step by step presentation and end result looks quite professional as well !! I am impressed :))))


    Comment by Mishmash! — April 24, 2007 @ 12:40 pm

  7. Wow hema, great presentation and step by step info.

    Comment by mandira — April 24, 2007 @ 1:23 pm

  8. Hema, My first time here. I love those crispies but never knew how those were made. i can just eat those forever. Thanks for this recipe. I hope to try this one day.

    Comment by Reena — April 24, 2007 @ 7:09 pm

  9. How thoughtful of your mother-in-law to surprise you! Your final result looks absolutely delicious! I wish I could try one right now!

    Comment by Susan from Food "Blogga" — April 24, 2007 @ 7:39 pm

  10. Nice blog Hema. We call it Thalu vadam also. Very nice presentation. Normally we use to eat even before drying :)A nice post. Viji

    Comment by viji — April 25, 2007 @ 2:42 am

  11. wow nice step by step description.
    will try this sometime! great patience!

    Comment by Roopa — April 25, 2007 @ 3:35 am

  12. u amaze me hema… very well instructed and beautifully presented. wish i could munch some.. ahhh melt in mouth vadams.

    Comment by sia — April 25, 2007 @ 4:27 am

  13. I am reaching out my hand to pick up the one from the last pic!!!!!! Gorgeous pics…… even a novice can make this with easy!!!!!!

    Comment by Coffee — April 25, 2007 @ 9:15 am

  14. Hema,

    Absolutely Spectacular!


    Comment by Kanchana — April 25, 2007 @ 10:48 am

  15. @Sandeepa
    Thanks. Yeah they are like papad, just the ingredients are different

    It is preferable to sun-dry them, but if you cannot some air will do. It just takes a lot longer.

    @Bee, vee, mandeera, mishmash
    Thanks! Hope you try it.

    Thank you. For your awesome bhalles, I can easily trade a big container of dried vadams.

    Welcome and glad you liked your visit. Do come back.

    Yup. She has surprised us more than once. Come over…I have one just for you.

    Thanks. That’s what we always do…eat them freshly steamed.

    @Roopa, Sia, Coffee, Kanchana
    Thanks all!

    Comment by Hema — April 25, 2007 @ 11:08 am

  16. Hey Hema, you are such a creative person. nice idea. you proved even if no sunlight vadam can be made!! now I need not worry if my vadam gets over.
    thanks yarr!!

    Comment by Sharmi — April 25, 2007 @ 12:01 pm

  17. Hi Hema,
    I love elai vadam , before drying only i will finish it off. Thanks for the step by step instructions.

    Comment by Menu Today — April 26, 2007 @ 6:46 am

  18. Wow Hema… yelai vadaam looks lovely. just now saw javarisi vadam in deepas blog. Nice to see lots of tamil recipes for the RCI. I too always thought vadaams are sundried..Thanks for the step by step pics.. Great entry…

    Comment by prema — April 26, 2007 @ 12:35 pm

  19. Thats the BEST recipe Hema.. very authentic and very detailed presentation …loved it

    Comment by Sushma — April 27, 2007 @ 12:30 am

  20. Lovely recipe my girl.This is totally new to me.thanks for sharing.Looks great.thin and yummy…

    Comment by soumya — April 27, 2007 @ 3:07 am

  21. Nice recipe Hema.We also make something similar. Even I like to eat the cooked sour dough 🙂

    Comment by archana — April 29, 2007 @ 1:49 am

  22. This is very new to me Hema.Never heard of making vadams this way.I have bookmarked this right away.Will try this very soon:)

    Comment by Vini K — April 29, 2007 @ 10:32 am

  23. Hell Hema ..This is the first time i am visitng your site .Always wanted to make yelai vadam and eat it .I was trying to vadam stand but could not get it here .You have a great idea of plates .Will surely try them soon .Thks u so much for sharing this.I also made sago vadam this time.

    Comment by Deepa — April 30, 2007 @ 11:58 am

  24. Wow!! Love elai vadam. In fact, it’s one of the items for “pathiyam” /postpartum. Last year when I had my li’l one, mom got these darling vadams for me to eat with milagu rasam. Don’t ask me whether it’s ok to eat oily stuff after having a baby. I guess since this is light and fluffy, may be not as bad as the other vadams??? really dont know…just a traditin, i guess…thanks for this lovely recipe!

    Comment by Praba — May 1, 2007 @ 9:44 am

  25. @Sharmi, MT, Prema, Sushma, Soumya, Archana, ViniK
    Thanks gals. Hope you try it out some day.

    Welcome and thanks for your comment here. Your jevvarsi vadams look amazing. I will try them somethime. You have a great blog!

    Me too! My mom brought a huge stock of vadams for my pathiya sapadu as well. Loved the milagu sambhar, rasam and vadam treats everyday. Oily stuff? this was nothing. My rice was drowned in ghee and it took me more than a year to shed off those baby pounds:)

    Comment by Hema — May 1, 2007 @ 10:11 am

  26. Hi Hema, I’m late getting here but thanks so much for sharing this fabulous recipe! The vadams look super-delicious; I have to try making them. I especially like the way you determine the batter is ready 😉

    Comment by outofthegarden — May 5, 2007 @ 12:26 am

  27. good recipe and elaborate presentation
    I tried it out this weekend and it came out well
    one change I made was i added 2 tsp of green chilli paste to give some karam in addition to pulipu

    Comment by divya — May 7, 2007 @ 2:29 am

  28. Hema:

    I love elai vadam. The steamed dosa is so tasty as a snack. It is great that you are preserving the vadam-making tradition in this age of ready-made ones.

    Comment by mika — May 8, 2007 @ 1:50 pm

  29. hai can we make these with rice flour.and if we don’t get sunlight directly then.can we steam these in a idli stand.

    Comment by ramya — May 15, 2007 @ 4:01 pm

  30. My love for yelai vadam is to the power of infinity. It is truly an art to make this and am happy that this art still lives. Happy that you posted this:-)

    Comment by Suganya — May 16, 2007 @ 8:49 pm

  31. Hi,

    thanks a lot for the reciepe… hubby just loves… the ellai vadam..actually we call it as thali vadam…..

    i made as per the direction given for one cup od rice… and it yielded 10 vadams . It was awesome…and i have soaked some more rice….for making the second batch……

    Comment by Rashmi — June 25, 2007 @ 3:07 pm

  32. Wow, Hema – these are just perfect! I’m gonna make some just as soon as the wet weather is over.

    Comment by Anita — July 17, 2007 @ 8:36 am

  33. […] Deepa’s Yelai Vadam from Hema’s […]

    Pingback by The Spice Cafe » Blog Archive » Preserve it! — August 1, 2007 @ 6:22 am

  34. Hema,

    I made these vadams using rice flour a week back. They came out excellent and it was the first time I was making vadams. Well, what can I say? My joy knows no bounds! 🙂 Thank you sooooo much!

    Comment by Chandrika — August 20, 2007 @ 10:45 pm

  35. HI

    i like this very much and being in australia i am not getting vadam in store.

    when i saw your recipe i tried immedaitely, soak the rice and grinded and kept for 2 days and checking afer 2 days daily but never got that sour smell, instead all the rice flour will collect at the bottom and only water will float after 10 days it started smelling very bad and i throw everything like this i tried 5 times but never got sour smell after so many days, same problem

    pls help me if u have any tip for me

    i grinded the rice very nice withour granuals also

    Comment by jyothi — September 11, 2007 @ 12:06 am

  36. Hi Jyothi,
    The rice flour will collect at the bottom and the top water layer will become yellowish too. Here are a few tips:
    Try keeping the batter in a warm place (like the oven with lights on). It is winter in Aussie now, so it may be a little hard if you keep it outside.
    If you still feel it has not turned sour in 4-5 days at the most, try making the vadams anyway. It may just work.
    If it doesnt, try waiting till the weather is a little warmer.
    Hope this helps!

    Comment by Hema — September 11, 2007 @ 9:21 am

  37. That’s so beautiful; it looks like a white oyster-shell with a pearl. Truly magnificent!

    Comment by pelicano — September 20, 2007 @ 7:31 pm

  38. Hi Hema,
    Just a rejoinder to the Vadam making. Instead of steaming them one by one, try using an Idli stand. You can make around 16 at a time (you need to use 2 idli stands). Or, you also get Vadam Stands in Matunga, in Mumbai, India, a set of 12 Thattu (plates), and a stand to hold 6 at a time. Very convenient. I don’t think the batter needs to be fermented for 4-5 days. If you grind in the morning, the batter will be ready by the next day tea time, for steaming.


    Comment by padma — September 26, 2007 @ 2:22 am

  39. Congratulations !!!!India people are the best in cooking, and also they share their secrets. Gods bless you!

    Comment by Sonia — December 13, 2007 @ 5:21 pm

  40. Hi Padma,

    Do you know where vadam stands can be found in Chennai? They sound very convinient.

    Also, how do you leave comments that link back to your blog?


    Comment by vedavalli — January 5, 2008 @ 1:17 am

  41. That was gorgeous!!!!! I strongly recommend Hema to go for her Recipe Book sooner or later.

    I use Anjana Mixie, and my grinding experience has been fantastic since soaked rice neither falls into dry nor actual wet grinding.

    Comment by Renu — June 20, 2009 @ 1:33 am

  42. […] PS: Vadaams : Integratl part of a tamil meal. They are crispy, side dishes and some variations of it look like this and this. […]

    Pingback by And the seed is sown. « A piece of my mind — August 3, 2009 @ 9:44 pm

  43. Like this blog.
    love old, authentic recipes like the vadam that u’ve posted.
    would appreciate if my email id is added to your subscription list.

    thank you in advance


    Comment by Meena — July 14, 2011 @ 4:37 am

  44. List of North Indian Foods Recipes, South Indian Foods Recipes, Ice cream varieties, Salads varieties, Kids lunch Box Recipes, Beverages, Veg and Non-veg recipes….Click here

    Comment by karthik — February 5, 2013 @ 3:28 am

  45. […] used to bake sabudana vadams or what you may call as fryums in microwave… see this link Yelai Vadam | Vegetarian Concoctions and search for this line They taste best when deep fried, but for the health conscious – rub […]

    Pingback by The not so regular recipes - Page 2 - IndusLadies — September 13, 2013 @ 11:47 am

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