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Savour the flavours: From Adhirasam to Ela Ada, 5 delicious South Indian dessert recipes you must try

By, New Delhi
Jun 09, 2024 03:03 PM IST

Indulge in South Indian sweetness with these tasty dessert recipes, ranging from the rich flavours of Mysore Pak to the comforting warmth of Sakkarai Pongal.

In South Indian cuisine, sweets are typically served at the beginning of a meal, contrary to their dessert status in many cultures. Whether it's Chakra Pongal, Almond Paysaam, Mysore Pak, or Rava Laddoo, the region boasts a diverse array of unique sweets. These can be broadly categorised into those made with jaggery and those made with sugar. Each household has its preferred recipes and techniques for preparing these delicacies. Besides being staples at special occasions and weddings, many families also regularly make sweets and kheers (payasam) as offerings to deities on Fridays and other auspicious days. Get ready to infuse your desserts with a traditional South Indian flair by crafting these authentic sweets. (Also read: The taste of Kumaon: From singori to chaunsa dal, 4 delicious must-try recipes from the hills of Uttarakhand )

Must-try South Indian recipes

1. Adhirasam

Embark on a culinary adventure through South India with these 5 irresistible dessert recipes.(Pinterest)

(Recipe by Chef Sanjeev Kapoor)

Adhirasam recipe (Pinterest)
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1 cup rice flour

¾ tsp dried ginger powder (saunth)

½ tsp green cardamom powder

1 cup chopped jaggery

¼ cup ghee + for greasing

Oil for deep frying


1. Sift the rice flour, dried ginger powder and green cardamom powder in a large bowl.

2. Heat jaggery and 1½ cups water in a non-stick pan. Cook till the jaggery melts and the mixture reaches one string consistency.

3. Strain the syrup into the flour mixture and add the ghee little by little and mix till a smooth dough is formed. Transfer the dough into a bowl, grease the top of it with some ghee, cover with cling wrap and set aside for 1 day.

4. Heat sufficient oil in a kadai.

5. To make the adhirsam, grease a small piece of banana leaf with some oil. Take a small portion of the dough and shape into a disc over the greased leaf.

6. Gently slide in the discs a few at a time into the hot oil and deep fry on low to medium heat till golden brown and crisp. Drain on an absorbent paper.

7. Allow to cool and arrange on a serving plate. Serve.

2. Ela Ada

(Recipe by Chef Tarla Dalal)

Ela Ada recipe (Tarla Dalal)


For the jaggery filling

1 cup chopped jaggery (gur)

1 tsp ghee

1/4 tsp cardamom (elaichi) powder

1 cup grated coconut

For The Rice Flour Dough

1 cup rice flour (chawal ka atta)

1/2 tsp ghee

salt to taste

Other ingredients for Ela Ada

1 banana leaf , cut into 75 mm × 75 mm. square


For the jaggery filling

1. Combine the jaggery and ¼ cup of water in a broad non-stick, mix well and cook on a medium flame for 3 minutes, while stirring occasionally.

2. Add the coconut and cardamom powder, mix well and cook on a medium flame for 4 minutes, while stirring continuously.

3. Switch off the flame, add ghee and mix well. Keep aside.

For the rice flour dough

4. Combine the rice flour, salt and ghee in a deep bowl and knead into a soft dough adding enough hot water using a spoon and then once cooled slightly use your hands and knead well. Keep aside.

How to proceed

5. Divide the jaggery stuffing into 6 equal portions. Keep aside.

6. Wet your fingers with little water and divide the dough into 6 equal portions.

7. Place a banana leaf on a clean, dry surface, put a little water on it and spread it evenly. Place a portion of the dough on it and pat the dough to flatten it to make a 150 mm. (6”) diameter circle. If you find it difficult to spread it you can lightly dip your fingers in water and then continue.

8. Place a portion of the jaggery stuffing in the centre of the circle. Fold along with the banana leaf to seal it and make a semi-circle.

9. Press the edges well by pressing with your fingers to seal it completely. Repeat steps 3 to 6 to make 5 more ela adas. Steam 2 ela adas in a steamer for 12 to 15 minutes or till done.

10. Remove the ela adas from the steamer and cool slightly. Repeat steps 8 and 9 to cook 4 more ela adas. Serve warm.

3. Thenga Therattipal

(Recipe by Chef Sanjeev Kapoor)

Thenga Therattipal recipe (Pinterest)


1 cup scraped fresh coconut

1 tbsp ghee

5-6 cashew nuts, broken

1/8 cup fresh coconut slices

½ cup chopped jaggery

2 tbsps rice flour

¾ cup milk

½ tsp green cardamom powder

¼ tsp nutmeg powder


1. Heat ghee in a nonstick pan, add cashew nuts and sauté till golden brown in colour. Drain and set aside.

2. Add coconut pieces and sauté till golden brown in colour. Drain and set aside.

3. Add coconut, jaggery and rice flour and cook till jaggery melts.

4. Add milk, green cardamom powder and nutmeg powder and cook till mixture leaves the sides of the pan.

5. Add fried cashew nuts and coconut pieces and mix well.

6. Transfer in a serving bowl and serve warm.

4. Paal Payasam

(Recipe by Chef Tarla Dalal)

Paal Payasam recipe (Pinterest)


4 1/2 cups full-fat milk

1/4 cup long grained rice (basmati) , soaked for 30 minutes and drained

1/4 cup warm full-fat milk

1/4 tsp saffron (kesar) strands strands

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 tsp cardamom (elaichi) powder


1. To make paal payasam, combine the warm milk and saffron in a bowl, mix well and keep aside.

2. Heat the milk in a deep non-stick pan, add the rice, mix well and cook on a medium flame for 7 minutes, while stirring occasionally.

3. Continue cooking on a medium flame for another 4 minutes, while stirring occasionally and mashing the rice lightly with the back of a spoon and scraping the sides of the pan.

4. Add the sugar, saffron-milk mixture and cardamom powder, mix well and cook on a medium flame for 2 minutes, while stirring occasionally.

5. Serve the paal payasam warm or chilled.

5. Unniappam

(Recipe by Chef Sanjeev Kapoor)

Unniappam recipe (Pinterest)


2 cups rice flour

1 cup chopped jaggery

1 tbsp ghee + for cooking

¼ cup chopped fresh coconut

2 ripe bananas

½ tsp green cardamom powder

½ tsp dried ginger powder

¼ tsp nutmeg powder

¼ tsp baking soda


1. Heat a nonstick pan. Add jaggery, ½ cup water and cook till jaggery melts.

2. Heat ghee in a nonstick pan. Add coconut and sauté till golden brown.

3. Peel the bananas and mash them with a fork.

4. Add rice flour, green cardamom powder, dried ginger powder, nutmeg powder, baking soda, cooked coconut pieces, jaggery syrup and mix well.

5. Add 1¼ cups water and mix well to form a thick batter. Set aside for 1-2 hours.

6. Heat ghee in a paniyaram pan and add a spoonful of mixture in each dent and cook on medium heat for 5-6 minutes. Turn and cook on other side for 2-3 minutes more.

7. Serve hot.

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