Malayalis are brimming with excitement preparing for the most awaited festival of Kerala — Onam. While snake boat races and pookalams (flower rangolis) are associated with the festival, what is most symbolic of the festival is the Onam sadhya. So much so that one can even call it — Onam on a plate, or a banana leaf, in this case. Served traditionally on a banana leaf, the sadhya is an elaborate preparation, eaten mostly during lunch on Onam. At least 11-12 dishes are prepared for this meal and when they are all finally served on the leaf, it makes for a spectacular sight, in addition to the fact that they make for absolutely delicious dishes.
What more, these dishes are very simple to make and, hence, can be prepared just in time for lunch. We present a list of dishes served on the banana leaf, so you have got your Onam sadhya basics right, before you head to prepare one.
Rice: The Onam sadhya is incomplete without its main component— the semi-polished brown rice of Kerala, known as kutthari.
Olan: This dish is a preparation of white gourd and coconut milk, with ginger and coconut oil for seasoning.
A watery dish, much like a soup, made primarily of tamarind, tomatoes, and hot spices like black pepper and chili pepper, asafoetida, coriander, etc. It is made very spicy and is known for being a cure for indigestion.
Tamarind-Ginger curry or puli inji
This is one of the star dishes of a Onam sadhya. It is a lipsmacking combination of sweet, sour and spice, made with crushed ginger and green chillies added to tamarind, and makes for a must have for a Kerala sadhya.
This dish is generally made with sliced ash gourd (petha), but now other fruits like pineapple, grapes, etc., are added to a gravy made of coconut grounded with mustard and green chillies.
The humble sambar is one of the essentials in an Onam sadhya. The thick sambar gravy is made of lentils, tamarind, tomato and drumsticks etc., and is flavoured with asafoetida.
Many Malayalis swear by this simple dish, made of grated coconut and vegetables, seasoned with coconut oil and curry leaves.
Parippu curry: This is a simple lentil dish made in coconut oil or ghee and generally garnished with curry leaves.
Erissery: This dish consists of one or two vegetables like bananas with a ground coconut paste curry base.
This dish is a combination of raw banana, pepper, yogurt, grated coconut, jeera, green chillies and turmeric. This is made several days in advance and stays good for a number of days.
Kichadi: This dish has a yogurt base to which vegetables like cucumber or beetroot are added. It is very similar to a raita.
This dish of coconut oil-sautéed vegetables is another important element of the sadhya, without which the traditional meal remains incomplete.
Payasam: The dessert is called payasam and comes in many varieties like palpayasam, ada prathaman, pal ada payasam, ney payasam, semiya payasam, to name a few.