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
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.
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)
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
Curry leaves-a sprig
Mustard seeds-1/2 tsp
Dry red chilli-2
Asafoetida/Heeng/Kaayam) - a small pinch
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!!
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
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!!
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
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.
Beans Cabbage Thoran
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.
Chop steamed kerala banana into small pieces.Add grated coconut,sugar and ghee.Serve it with papads.
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.
Green Chilly-4-chopped small
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.
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!! :)