What are festivals without some mouth-watering food? With Onam around the corner, there’s no way you cannot dive into an authentic Onam Sadya to join in the celebratory spirit or the charitable spirit for our loved ones back home in God’s own country in the aftermath of the recent Kerala floods, this year. Celebrated with colourful pookalam, the gorgeous white set sari and a wide platter of authentic Kerala cuisine, this Onam, ditch the restaurant-made Onam Sadya and instead treat your loved ones with a home cooked Onam Sadya made sweeter by your love and a personal touch.
If you don’t want to build the whole lavish Sadya with 27 items, fret not, as we’ve got some easy-peasy dishes from the whole list that you can easily whip up and indulge in a relaxed afternoon of savouring Onam sadya delicacies at home. We spoke to chefs and homemakers to draw up a list of Sadya basics that you can cook up at home and celebrate Onam in full swing. Don’t forget to buy some fresh green banana leaves to eat out of!
An Onam sadya is incomplete without the Kerala Matta Rice, also known as the Rosematta rice or red parboiled rice. It is a local rice variety sourced from the Palakkad region of God's own country and is a powerhouse of essential nutrients such as magnesium, calcium, and vitamins.
Another essential item for an Onam sadya is the sambar, a well-spiced stew made with local veggies (drumsticks, okra, tomatoes, pumpkin, brinjal, and more), lentils, and tamarind paste. Not just for the sadya, this spicy stew, packed with proteins and nutrients, should also be a part of your daily meals as it can help fulfil your daily nutrient requirements. Plus, it’s yummy too!
No Onam sadya is complete without the fresh and flavourful preparation of avial. A mixed vegetable preparation, avial is a traditional side dish of Kerala. Its main ingredients include local vegetables, curd, and grated coconut. This recipe is incomplete with a seasoning of curry leaves and coconut oil. The avial is not just a part of the Onam sadya, but is an important side dish at weddings and other important occasions in Kerala.
Puli inji or inji curry is a type of chutney made with fresh ginger, jaggery, and tamarind. With its perfect balance of sweet, spicy, sharp, and sour flavours, this irresistible preparation just adds a whole new dimension to the overall experience of the Onam sadya. Did we tell you this is also the easiest to make!
Ideally, the Onam sadya has at least two types of payasam. However, if you can’t make both, just one could make your day too. You could try the usual paal ada payasam, which is a milk and rice kheer, or pick from the variety of payasam recipes made by LF chefs – sugar-free seviyan payasam, and tender coconut and strawberry payasam.
(Also read: The Pleasure of Kerala’s Palada Pradhaman )
Just like payasam, there are several types of pachadi too. Sure to add a punch to your sadya experience, it is basically an accompaniment made with yogurt and coconut and several different fruits and vegetables. From beetroot pachadi to pineapple pachadi and cucumber pachadi, you can pick your favourite and make it a part of your Onam sadya.
(Also read: 9 Foodie Facts About The Onam Sadya)
Unlike most festivals across the country, Onam isn’t about a victor or his victory. It celebrates the joyous homecoming of Asura (demon) King Mahabali, whose rule was considered as the golden era of Kerala. It is celebrated over a period of ten days, starting from the first day called Atham, and continuing till Thiru Onam, which is the tenth and the biggest day. The last day is celebrated with much fervor. Keralites wear new clothes, perform prayers, make elaborate floral rangoli (pookalam), play games, participate in folk dances, and savour a grand meal (Onam sadya).
According to Vaishnava mythology, King Mahabali, was very popular among his subjects which started making the gods jealous and concerned. In order to keep their supremacy intact, the gods turned to Lord Vishnu for help. Lord Vishnu decided to test the King’s generosity and disguised himself as Vamana, a diminutive Brahmin, and asked King Mahabali for a piece of land which measured three paces. The king, without any hesitation, granted the wish. Lord Vishnu then grew in size and covered whatever Mahabali had in just two steps. Since there was no place for the third and final step, Mahabali, bound to his promise, offered his head to place the Vamana’s foot. Vamana did what he was asked to and sent Mahabali to Paatal Lok (Netherworld). However, before going to the netherworld, Mahabali asked for a favour. He requested to be allowed to visit his kingdom once a year and this yearly visit is celebrated as Onam.
Onam Ashamsakal, everyone!
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