The Onam Sadya, that is a veritable spread of dishes from Kerala, is one of the MUST HAVE culinary experiences in your lifetime. While the spread is vegetarian in many parts of Kerala, some also include non-vegetarian items.
The simple Onam Sadya menu listed here is by no means as exhaustive as a traditional sadya, but it is more manageable and easier to cook for a small group of family and friends.
My friend, Meeta, a Punjabi married to a Malayali, painstakingly prepares a large spread for Onam Sadya every year and I’ve been lucky to be invited to her Onam lunch twice in the last few years. The spread of vegetable and fruit dishes, savoury and sweet, with an array of textures and colours, it is impossible not to fall in love with this grand spread served on a banana leaf.
I do not claim these recipes to be a 100% authentic – some may have my own family’s cooking influence peppered in them 🙂 But I promise it is 100% delicious.
All sides are had with rice, course by course.
1. Kerala Parippu Curry – A yellow moong dal preparation flavoured with the standard coconut-cumin-green chilli paste, an absolute MUST have in your Onam Sadya.
3. Avial – There are many ways to prepare avial. A dry preparation is had an a side while the one with more ‘juice’ is mixed with rice. In the Kerala Onam Sadya, the preparation is quite dry.
4. Raw Banana Mezhukkupuratti – A stir fry prepared either with starchy vegetables like plantain / yam / potato / Chinese potato, or leafy greens
5. Pumpkin Erissery – A type of ‘kootu’ prepared using pumpkin and cowpeas, mashed together with a freshly ground spice paste and a garnish of fragrant browned coconut
6. Ash Gourd Pulissery / Kachiya Moru – In the Tamil side of the border, this is better known as Moar Kuzhambu. There is of course a slight difference in the way it is made and therefore in the taste.
7. Kerala Sambar – Always with a healthy mix of vegetables, the flavour of coconut oil and a garnish of tempered shallots
Other items for the Sadya:
Pal Payasam – Rice boiled in milk with sugar until the milk turns a light pink
Pappadam – The fluffed up light-as-air fried papads that vanish into nothingness when crushed along with the rice, a MUST have with your Onam Sadya.
Banana Chips – No Kerala meal must be served without the gracious presence of these irresistible crisps, of course, fried in coconut oil.
Red Rice – a traditional Kerala meal always stars red rice, but if for some reason you cannot access red rice or dont care for it much, then you have white rice to the rescue.