September 12, 2013

Onam 2013 - Onam Sadya Recipes and How to Serve a Kerala Sadya

Yet another Onam is upon us and falls on September 16, 2013 this year. This time I am the furthest from home that I have ever been. To help with your Onam Sadya preparation, I have a list of sadya recipes below including puli inji, erissery, kaalan, olan, thoran, avial, kadumanga, ada pradhaman, paal payasam, and pulissery. I have also given a note below on how to serve an Onam Sadya and in what order to serve the dishes in.

Making an entire sadya this year may not happen but I to celebrate Onam 2013 in my own small way, I am making Kerala sadya recipes for dinner, not everything in one go but all the dishes that I like one by one. Tonight it's going to be Kerala Sambar, Avial, and Semiya Pasayam. 

ONAM SADYA RECIPES (in order of serving on the banana leaf)

Ripe Banana
Banana Chips (Upperi)
Sharkara Varatti
Mango Pickle or Manga Curry
Lime Pickle or Naranga Curry
Thoran - cabbage thoran, beetroot thoran, papaya thoran, etc (any one kind)
Boiled Rice


You should use tender banana leaves to serve the sadya in. The tip of the banana leaf should be facing the left of the person eating. Start serving from the tip side of the leaf and use the top half (from the person eating) for all the curries. The first item is always a pinch of salt. Then you continue serving Kerala papadom, ripe banana, banana chips, sharakara varatti and so on moving to the right of the leaf as you go. End with thoran on the right most side (of the person eating). 

Rice is served after all the curries are served first. Parippu curry is the first course and always served with melted ghee. Once that's done, serve Sambar. Make sure to top up curries as they run out on the leaf. After sambar, it's pulissery or moru curry. Inji curry is a great combination with this course. 

The savoury part of the meal ends with moru kachiyathu and rice. Thick curd as is common in Tamil Nadu weddings and sadya is not so common in Kerala. Spiced buttermilk and rice is more the norm. Also, I have never seen rasam being served in a Kerala sadya but that could be because I haven't eaten that many sadyas in my life. 

The sadya ends with payasam, almost always with 2 varieties - one that's jaggery and coconut mil-based and one that's milk-based. Sweets like boli and jalebi are uncommon although I have seen some sadyas that include them. 

Disclaimer: I am, by no means, an authority on Kerala sadyas and this post is meant to be a directive only. I am from Kottayam and this is generally how it works where I am from but there are differences in how it's done across Kerala. For instance, in Kottayam we call banana chips upperi whereas in North Kerala, upperi means thoran and banana chips are called kaya varuthathu. So, any possible mistakes and oversights are regretted.