Monday, September 04, 2006

Onasadya-a small glimpse

I dont think many of us can ever dare to make a complete Ona Sadya which is traditionally an 8 or 9 course sadya with dishes going upto 64!! Well,probably that suited Kerala of the yesterdays with a matriarchal joint family system,where in each family you had dozens of members!!With the growing no. of nuclear family a 9course Ona sadya is just a dream and memories which we can ruminate over....Onam for Keralites is a very democratic festival...people from all walks of life,cast and creed participate in the spirit of could be in the form of a sumptuous sadya,a beautiful floral decoration,pookkalam,various games-onakkali or even the rebates and discounts offers which flourish the market or an Onam bonus!!

Malayali's zeal for celebrating onam is best expressed in the age old saying"Kaanam vittum Onam unnanam", which literally translate as, sell even u'r possessions,but celebrate Onam!Onasadya is a real banquet which marks the celebration.It is basically eating rice with umpteen no of curries,side dishes,sweets and savouries....everything vegetarian!

A sadya starts by laying down banana leaf(Thooshanila) with its end facing left.The first item to be served is Salt!Perhaps reminding us of the existential realities of life and a gesture of gratitude.Then comes the different types of 'Upperi',the salty crisps.It could be raw banana,jackfruit,bittergourd(kondattam) or brinjal,spiced and salted, fried in coconut oil.Then comes the Sharkkarapuratti or Sharkaraupperi,which is raw banana fried and coated in spiced jaggery syrup.Different varieties of Achar,pickle follow like lemon,ginger,raw mango,beetroot etc.Then comes the Naaranga curry,which is made using a species of lemon(Maatalanaaranga).Papadam(Papad) and Pazham Nurukku(steamed kerala banana with grated coconut) comes next.Next you have the various Thoran & mezhukkupuratty items,the dry vegetable dishes,made of yam/raw banana/beans/cabbage etc.Now comes Avial,a must in any Sadya,which is an assortment of all vegetables in a coconut curd base..(Seems to have bn invented by Pakkanar of Parayipetta panthirukulam myth).Then follows the various 'Thodukarikal' which include Kichadi/Pachadi, Olan etc.By now steaming hot rice will be served in the middle of the banana leaf with all the other items decorating the border!Now comes 'Ozhichukarikal',the main curries, which include Parippum Neyyum(lentils with ghee)-served first,Erissery made of pumpkin/snake gourd/raw banana etc,Sambar(very likely a cross border influence on Kerala kitchen),Kaalan,Pulissery etc.,Finally comes a small plantain and various sweet porridges or Payasams-Palada/Palpayasam/ParippuPrathaman/ChakkaPrathaman etc.Some have sambaram,spiced butter milk and rasam, after eating payasam.Hot Water, boiled with dried ginger or cumin generally served in any sadya is wonderful for proper digestion....And finally you get up with a big smile on u'r face and a heavy stomach!! Some families have the tradition of lighting a lamp and leaving one banana leaf filled with all dishes for Ganapati before starting the banquet....and as per tradition before starting to eat, each of us are supposed to keep off a very small portion of all the dishes for 'Trikkakkara Appan' or Mahabali,the legendary king of Kerala!! When the delicious spread is all before us, sometimes we forget his share!! :)


Sambar is one dish which has plenty of variations.You find a lot of varieties in Sambar from region to region in terms of taste,consistency,ingredients etc like for example, the slightly sweet sambar in some parts of Karnataka which comes with the addition of jaggery.For Keralites generally as
  • Annita
  • rightly said, Sambar is a curry which is made to finish of all the vegetables!!I think within Kerala itself u have different varieties of Sambar, like for instance, in the North we add coconut and in the South I have seen that majority do not add coconut.Then you have some variations like
  • NambooriSambar
  • where ghee is used, but in most of the common households in Kerala ghee is not added,rather coconut oil is added.So here goes the recipe for Kerala Sambar as made in my home.

    Assortment of vegetables~200g(I used 1carrot,1potato,a few beans,1beetroot,1drumstick,4Okhra,1brinjal,1/2onion,a small piece of ash gourd,pumpkin&yam,5Tindora,1raw banana,2Tomato) all chopped into a finger length size.
    Garlic-10 pods
    Baby shallots-10
    Green chilli-3(slitted)
    Tamarind paste-1 tsp(as reqd)(If u r using tamarind,soak it in hot water and squeeze out the juice)
    Red gram Dal/Tur Dal - 1/4 cup
    Chopped coriander leaves - 2 tsp
    Ghee/Oil to add with dal - 1/2 tsp (Optional)
    Water-as rqd
    Sambar Masala
    Grated coconut-3tbsp
    Pepper corns- 1/2tsp
    Dry red chilli-2
    Turmeric powder-1/4 tsp
    Cumin seed-1/2 tsp
    Fenugreek seed-1/4 tsp(slightly less)
    Coriander seeds-1 1/2 tbsp
    Curry leaves-a sprig
    Oil-a tsp
    Curry leaves-a sprig
    Mustard seeds-1/2 tsp
    Dry red chilli-2
    Asafoetida/Heeng/Kaayam) - a small pinch
    Oil/ghee-as rqd

    Pressure cook Tur dal,and garlic adding enough water(3/4cup or slightly less) for 3-4 whistles.(Do not add salt before the dal is cooked,for it will delay the cooking)Mash the dal and now add the vegetables,shallots and salt.Cook further (without the whistle)say 5-7 minutes or till the vegetables are cooked.Meanwhile Heat oil in a wok.Saute coriander seeds,pepper corns,turmeric powder,cumin seed,fenugreek seed,dry red chilli and curry leaves together for 2 or 3 minutes or till u get a fine aroma.Keep it separate.In the same wok saute grated coconut till it becomes golden brown.Allow all the ingredients to cool and grind them to a paste adding enough water.Now add this paste to the cooked dal and vegetables,mix well.Add the tamarind paste or juice.Mix well.Add salt if rqd.Now allow it to boil.Once it has boiled prepare the seasoning.Heat oil/ghee in a small wok.Splutter mustard seeds,curry leaves,dry red chilli,and asafoetida powder.Add the seasoning to the Sambar and mix well.Sambar is ready! One cd say that this is a stronger sambar,stronger in flavour,spices and consistency.


    Koottu curry is another popular side dish in any sadya.It is a mixture of vegetables cooked with whole bengal gram.It is one of my most favourite side dish in the sadya.
    Whole Bengal gram-1 cup
    Chilli powder-1 tsp
    Pepper powder-1 tsp
    Turmeric powder-1/2 tsp
    Cumin seed-1 tsp
    Grated coconut-4 tbsp+1 tbsp
    Green chilli-2 slitted
    Assortment of vegetables like yam,raw banana,potato,pumpkin etc)-100g(cut into small pieces)
    Mustard seed-1/2 tsp
    Curry leaves-1 sprig
    Copra/Coconut pieces-1/2 cup
    Dry red chilli-2
    Pressure cook bengal gram adding enough water(~2 1/4 cups) till the gram is cooked well(~5-6 whistles).Now add the vegetables,chillipowder,pepper powder,turmeric powder,green chilli and salt(adding a little water,if rqd) till all the vegetables are cooked.Meanwhile grind 4tbsp coconut with cumin seed to a very coarse paste.Add this paste to the cooked vegetables.Mix well.Cook further till everything forms a thick heavily coated gravy(koottu).Now prepare the seasoning by spluttering mustard,curry leaves,dry red chilli,the copra pieces and 1tbsp grated coconut(coconut should turn golden brown).Now add this seasoning to the koottu and mix well.Koottu curry ready!!

  • MathanErissery

  • Aviyal

  • Aviyal

  • Olan

    Olan is a milky white side dish in a sadya,taste more like a vegetable stew.

    Ash gourd-a small piece 50g-cut into thin pieces
    Pumpkin-a small piece-50 g-cut into thin pieces
    Potato-1(optional)cut into thin pieces
    Red Beans(Mampayar/Vanpayar)(You could use black eyed bean as well)-75g
    Coconut milk-1 cup
    Green chilli-4(slitted)
    Curry leaves-2 sprigs
    Coconut oil/oil of u'r choice-2 tsp(the characteristic taste of Olan owes to the fresh coconut oil)

    Cook the vegetables and the bean adding salt,water and the green chillies.Once they are cooked add the coconut milk.Reduce the flame.Cook for a minute or two.Finally add fresh curry leaves and coconut oil and remove from the fire.Mix well.Olan is ready!!


  • PadavalangaErissery

  • Pachadi 

    Pachadi is a yoghurt based side dish which you can make with a lot of vegetables like cucumber,tomato,okhra,bittergourd,ash gourd,beet root etc.The recipe remains the same but the pachadi takes on the flavour of the vegetable added.But the common variety is made of either cucumber or ashgourd.

    Cucumber-100g(cut into small uniform pieces)
    Green chilli-2+2 chopped
    Fresh grated coconut-3/4 cup
    Thick yoghurt-3/4 cup
    Mustard-1/2 tsp+1/2 tsp
    Salt-as rqd
    Oil-as rqd
    Curry leaves=2 sprigs
    Dry red chilli-2

    Cook the cucumber adding enough water, 2 green chillies chopped and salt.Grind together coconut and green chilli.Pound lightly 1/2 tsp mustard in a mortar and pestle(You may just turn the pestle over the mustard seeds lightly,not really grinding them(Ideally mustard should not be ground).Now once the vegetables are cooked,remove from fire.Add the coconut paste and the yoghurt.Mix well.Now prepare the seasoning with the mustard seed,curry leaves, and dry red chilli.Add the seasoning to the pachadi and mix well.Pachadi is ready.

    Kurukku Kaalan  Posted by Picasa

  • KurukkuKaalan

  • Injithair


  • Injithair

  • Beans Cabbage Thoran
      Posted by Picasa

    Chop cabbage,beans.and 1 small onion into small pieces(say 150g).Add 1/4 tsp turmeric powder,4green chillies chopped and salt.Mix well with the hand.Add some water,just enough for the vegetables to cook.Once it is nearly cooked add 2tbsp grated coconut.Mix well. Now prepare the seasoning in a small wok.Heat oil,add mustard seeds,cumin seeds,curry leaves and dry red chilli.Add the seasoning to the Thoran and mix well.
    Pazham Nurukku&Pappadam

    Chop steamed kerala banana into small pieces.Add grated coconut,sugar and ghee.Serve it with papads.

  • ParippuPrathaman

  • ChakkaPrathaman

  • Palpayasam
  • PachakkayaMezhukkupuratty

  • PayarMezhukkupuratty

  • Pulissery

  • Maampazha Pulissery

  • Rasam

  • Annita'sOnasadya

  • An Onasadya in UK

  • Varathauppery/Naluppery &Chakkauppery

    Raw banana is peeled and cut into 4, and then sliced into medium thick pieces, washed thoroughly and then soaked in water in which turmeric powder and salt is added.It is kept marinated for an hour.It is then removed from the water,patted dry and then deep fried to crispy chips called Varathauppery/Naluppery.Alternatively some people marinate the raw banana with turmeric powder and deep fry it in very hot oil and then later sprinkle salt water.The same recipe substituted with raw jackfruit will make chakka uppery.


    For sharkkarauppery banana is cut into slightly thicker pieces,fried similarly as naluppery.A jaggery syrup with cumin and dry ginger powder is prepared with a thick consistency.Now the fried banana pieces are mixed with the jaggery mix,turned well and once all the water content vanish and jaggery coating becomes dry and powdery, it is put in an airtight container.

    It is a sweet and tangy side dish,a must in any sadya.
    Ginger- 25gm
    Green Chilly-4-chopped small
    oil-2tbsp 25gm
    Dried red chilly 1-cut in to 4 pieces
    Mustard seeds 1/2tsp
    Tamarind- size of a lemon
    Hot Water- 2cups
    Turmeric powder- 1/4tsp
    Chilly Powder- 1/2tsp(u may personalise accdg to u'r preferences)
    Jaggery (powdered) -25gm
    Curry leaves -1 sprig
    Fenugreek /Methi/Uluva seeds- 1 pinch
    Peel the ginger and chop it into very small pieces.
    Heat oil and sauté ginger until it turns golden brown and you get a fine aroma. Add green chilly pieces and saute further and keep it aside.Now prepare the tamarind pulp by mixing tamarind in hot water and extracting the pulp.Boil the tamarind pulp adding chillipowder,turmericpowder,jaggery powder and salt. Boil until the solution becomes thick.Now add the fried ginger and chilly pieces,reduce it to a saucy texture.Now prepare the seasoning in a wok.Heat oil,add mustard,curry leaves&dry red chilli.Add this to the sauce.Dry Roast the rice grains& methi seeds, and powder.Add this powder to the sauce.Mix everything well.Puli Inji is ready.

  • Shaheen'PaavakkaPuliinji

  • Theeyal
    Theeyal is more common in South Kerala than in North kerala.Here again you have plenty of varieties depending on the vegetable you add.You can make theeyal using prawns as well!!(but not for sadya of course!! :)

    Parippu Neyyum is all about cooking tur dal(red gram dal) adding turmeric powder and green chilli, to a mushy consistency.Add salt and then serve with ghee.Some add a seasoning of baby shallots,and cumin seeds.Traditionally garlic should not be used as a seasoning for Parippum neyyum prepared for festivals.But those who wish can add 2 or 3 garlic pods crushed in the seasoning.

    Raw mango,gooseberry,green chillies etc are brined days before the sadya and served as a wonderful side dish.
    Somebody help me!! My stomach is too full!! :)


    Annu said...

    My god..!!!! all that home made food.. seeing it my stomach is full... indidoc .. u are great.. hats off to u ur busy schedule u do get time to prepare such an elaborate meal.. i am amazed. Need to learn from you a lot. Happy Onam..!!!!

    Kuzhimadiyan said...

    See my onam experience

    wheresmymind said...

    How long does 64 dishes take to cook??? Seems like you'd need a lot of people working together to pull that off.

    shilpa said...

    Oh my cooked so many things?? you are great Shynee.
    Wish you a very happy Onam.

    Menu Today said...

    Oh!!!!!! sooooooo Many dishes.Great!!! Happy Onam

    aqua said...

    iyoooo.. ente vayaru niranju!! enikku veettil pokanam.. I am really missing those dishes!

    KrishnaArjuna said...

    Belated onam wishes to you and your family Shynee :-)

    Looks like you had a gr(EAT) time ;-)

    A very good write up on the onasadya Shynee, very informative and I got to learn a new thing today.

    Raji said...


    You dont live very far from me , considering it only takes about a day travelling the entire length of the tiny island in which we live..

    So, beware, next Onam, our family is visiting you with or without an invite :-)
    Belated Onam wishes to you and your family

    jayshree said...

    Thatz a nice write-up on Onam.. Belated Wishes to you. Wow.. Indian festivals is always a line up of dishes.. & 64 this is going waaaaaaaaaaay beyond.Great to knw about them all !!

    Kitchenmate said...

    Happy onam to you and family:)

    Prema Sundar said...

    Shynee u are really amazing. Wonderful traditional kerala recipes ...I was once invited for a lunch on onam day by one of my friends and she too had made lots of dishes ... believe me I enjoyed each and every dish. I just remember her and the onam lunch when I saw the pictures in ur site. Thanks for the wonderful recipes .

    Annita said...

    Well written Shynee...So you had a wonderful Sadya,rt?And thanks for the mention..

    Linda said...

    Hi Shynee, I really enjoyed reading this delicious post! I hope you had a wonderful celebration. The food sure looks impressive :)

    renuramanath said...

    hi shynee,
    check out my ona sadya.
    more later.

    indianadoc said...

    >Thanx Annu for dropping in...and for all the kind words...a very happy onam to u too...
    >Kuzhimadiya...kandu starbucks onam...entha parayuka....I wish I cd invite u here with us!!
    >WMM, in those days kerala had an extended joint family system where grand parents,parents,kids,uncles,aunts,cousins...everybody stayed in a big single household called 'Tharavadu'...So there is no shortage for hands to do the job and moreover most of these families had specialist cooks too(Dehandakkaran).So it took 3-4 hrs max.Some of the items are prepared well before the Day.So things were easy...though a lot of hardwork the end result is sumptous!!
    >Shilpa not 64! I can never dare to...but yes, a mini sadya,I did manage!! :)Thanx dear...
    >Thanx MT :)
    >Ichiri thadiyanangiyal undakkavunnathalleyulloo aqua ithokke ividey!!Next time get your friends and throw in a chottu sadya!
    >thanx KA...I love lores n thought I'll share a few..yes indeed my stomach ws full to the max!!
    >Raji,you are most welcome dear...I dont know how far is sheffield...poor in geography! :)We will be more than happy to have u with us..
    >thanx jayashree for dropping in...yes I love Indian festivals a lot...its colour,gaiety,myths and legends and mouth watering dishes are just unmatched!
    >thanx karthi :)
    >thanx a lot Prema and happy to know that you like our sadya too!!
    >thanx Annita...yes Sadya was good with a few close pals joining....celebrated in the true spirit!
    >Linda,thanx a lot...happy to know that you enjoyed reading too...
    >Thanx renu...hmmm that is a gd write up.

    aqua said...

    Illa doc.. angane vittukoduthilla.. hmm i made parippucurry and ingicurry(collected recipe from mom). So my Ona sadhya(at 8 PM) included, parippu curry, ingicurry, aloo-gobi sabji, pappadom, curd(readymade!), 3 types of pickles(thnks to Melam) and Laddu, Upperi, sharkarapuratti(Thnks to Indian store). Enthengilum vittu poyonnu nokatte?! illa .. so it was a chottu sadhya.. wasn't it doc?
    :( Lunch was at canteen!

    Priya Bhaskaran said...

    Shynee...can't belive--u made all these:) You are really great-- nicely organised:) Can feel onam fro here:)

    indianadoc said...

    >Aqua, athu nannayi...appo adichu polichu alley!! One cant give up the roots wherever we are....
    >Priya...I made in two cetain curries like pachadi,can be made on the previous day itself right...wanted to have sadya badly...had no choice bt to make on my evening we had a mega sadya with another malayali family here..we all enjoyed the real onam then!

    Darshini Ashok said...

    Hi Shynee reading your entry was so cooool and enjoyable in every way....i just can't tell you....I visit your blog very often and have tried out loads of your recipes too.
    I was wondering if you have the recipe for upilitta manga/nelikka or any other vege like cucmbers which does not use vinegar? could you please post it or email it to me at ?
    Awesome post.... reading abt the onasadhya seriously made me drool ;)