In Kerala, guests are like gods, and the Sadhya is one tangy memory that will entice you forever. The land of swaying coconuts, pristine forests and beautiful Kerala backwaters, is inviting you for one delicious Sadya this Onam.
The festival of prosperity has always been a banquet of delicious and authentic Kerala food. Onam sadya has over 20 to 30 variations of exquisite dishes prepared hot and served on the soft and heavenly banana leaf.
The story of Onam is an interesting one too. Every year the favorite lord or king of Kerala, Mahabali is remembered, honored and welcomed into homes, through elaborate decorations, festivities, dances, music and food preparations.
What is Onam without those flowers? For welcoming King Mahabali, the beautiful onam pookalam is decorated aesthetically with bright and fragrant flowers. The riot of colorful flowers visually pleases the eyes, exactly like how the various flavor of authentic Kerala cuisine tingles the taste buds.
Now you may also gobble up all the goodies like the sweetest payasam, healthy buttermilk, spicy curries and several koottukari, curries and upperis. Onam is definitely about the heavenly family bliss or the unity of its people.
Family members or friends join together on Onam to eat the Kerala Sadya to mingle and enjoy the bounty that God’s own country has given. Make merry and stay happy, that’s the motto and the very reason of Onam and the scrumptious Sadhya.
Restaurants across India start preparing delectable Onasadya by September, which is usually served on Thiruvonam day and the weekend after that.
These places are packed with people and booked well in advance by Kerala cuisine enthusiasts from all over the country.
We bet no one can resist the 30-course meal fit for the kings. Do remember not to over-eat in the morning, for you might need all the place in your tummy to enjoy this king-sized meal.
A clean banana leaf makes up the plate, and the cutlery you would use is your hands. The main course begins with a small banana which is considered to help with the digestion of the heavy meal. Following that the fried Pappadam, a side dish for rice.
Next to be served is a pinch of salt which activates the flow of enzymes. To kick start the Sadya, first to be served are handfuls of sweet and salty coconut-oil-fried raw banana chips. What is offered soon after, are the many kinds of pickles; like the spicy raw mango pickle, sweet ginger tamarind pickle (inji puli) and of course the traditional lemon pickle.
Well, next the delicious vegetable dishes arrive. Here, you would get the kichadi – a mixture of freshly cooked vegetables fused with spicy yogurt and coconut paste.
Next, comes the pachadi – it’s one more yogurt dish with boiled vegetables, erissery – a slightly spiced dal-vegetable combination preparation with coconut paste, avial – a fusion of vegetables cooked together, olan – pumpkin or ash gourd cooked in creamy coconut milk,
thoran – sauteed vegetables with grated coconut. Don’t forget all of the curries and thorans are tempered with mustard seeds for ‘extra effects.’
Remember, not to finish all of the above in a jiffy, for these are only the accompaniments buddy!
That was only the trailer (Picture abhi baaki hai)’ some new enthusiasts just gobble these up since they can’t control the aroma and all!
But that’s ok, you will get another round of these tasty treats. It won’t be surprising, if you needed help to get up, after the Sadhya.
The chief guest of honor is, of course, the steamy rice served once you are comfortably seated to begin the meal. Half a scoop of shuddh desi ghee (melted clarified butter) is placed next to the parippu – mashed and steamed lentils.
That’s followed by another round of rice with sambar – a thick lentil based spicy gravy which you must with the hot rice. Kalan comes next which is a tasty yogurt-based curry. The final magic is the rasam – a hot South Indian soup-like dish made of tomatoes and tempered spices.
What is served right after is the crowd favorite dessert called payasam. Here one would find milk, fruit, jaggery, and ghee based varieties from Kerala food.
Of course, some made with the pure and soft coconut milk are equally yummy!
So your mouth can go riots after these payasams usually three payasams are served for the sweet-toothed guests.
Finally, to be served is the spiced buttermilk or sambharam (or spiced buttermilk). As the icing on top of the cake, a pan or betel leaves and betel nuts are offered to help digestion.