With the ten-day harvest festival of Kerala well underway until September 13, Keralites here in Oman will also be celebrating Onam through a culinary tradition known as ‘Sadhya’.
The end of South India’s monsoon season marks the time for the annual rice harvest in the state of Kerala, and the celebration of Onam. An agrarian Hindu festival, it’s celebrated by Keralites worldwide and has transcended religious denominations to be observed as a cultural festival by non-Hindus alike.
In Hindu belief, Onam is a time when the beloved Daitya King Mahabali marks his yearly homecoming after being banished to the underworld by the dwarf Vamana – the fifth avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu. Onam’s significance as a religious and cultural celebration is marked by one of its key observances – the culinary tradition of ‘Sadhya’.
A vegetarian feast, Sadhya is served on a banana leaf and can be comprised of up to 28 dishes traditional to the occasion and presented in a single course. Usually served for lunch on Onam, heapings of ‘Chor’ (rice) form the base of the Sadhya from which all other dishes are paired with and eaten by hand.
Here are just a few of the tasty veg delicacies you might find on a typical preparation of Sadhya!
If rice is the foundation of a Sadhya, then Sambhar is its star pillar. A quintessential staple in daily Keralite cuisine, this savoury gravy is made using every vegetable available – from lady’s fingers (bhindi/okra), to potatoes, carrots and beans.
This gorgeous stew made with red beans, grated coconut, and pumpkin is a Sadhya comfort food at its finest. Pour it over some Chor and dig in!
Manga and Naranga Curry
Most Onam Sadhya preparations involve two varieties of pickle to add spice and sourness to cut through the coconut-base of most of the dishes. The classic mango pickle (Manga) and lemon pickle (Naranga) will do the job nicely.
This yogurt-based curry is simply moreish, made with either bitter gourd or even pineapple, with heaps of fresh grated coconut, it’s the perfect balance of tangy and sweet.
Another daily staple in every Indian household – with Kerala kitchens being no exception – the humble moong dal is another Sadhya pillar that anchors its culinary tradition. It doesn’t get any more simple yet flavourful topped with black sesame seeds and red chilies.
The ultimate monsoon comfort food, a hot cup of rasam can cure all that ails you. But this spicy tamarind soup is often ladled over Chor with heaps of tempered curry leaves and tomatoes lending an even greater depth of flavour.
This common Malayali side dish is made mainly with shredded cabbage or carrot with a generous serving of grated coconut added in. Whichever way you slice it, it’s a healthy dose of fibre and flavour all in one!
No Sadhya is complete without a bit of crunch – either from classic fresh Pappadams hot from the pan, or freshly-fried banana chips. We love the latter, sprinkled with a bit of salt. Fair warning though – they’re hard to stop snacking on once you start.
Rounding out all that spice with a sweet ending is Payasam, a pudding made with boiled milk and sugar, vermicelli noodles, and flavoured with raisins, cashews, saffron, or cardamom. It’s a traditional dessert at Onam and tastes even better when you mix it with some crushed Poovan Pazham (a small banana) for added texture and sweetness.
Don’t have time to prepare a full Sadhya spread at home this Onam? Here’s where you can find traditional Sadhya for dine-in or takeaway, right here in Muscat:
Locations: Mabelah, Al Hail, Wadi Kabir
Price: RO2.39 per set
Pick-up timings: September 11, 2019
11:00 a.m. till 12:30 p.m.
Contact: Visit the hypermarket customer service desk
Nesto’s hot-food section is offering up 24 Onam delicacies for advance Sadhya orders offering up everything from Koottu Curry to Injipuli and Pachadi.
Al Salam Restaurant
Location: Al Khuwair
Price: RO3, dine-in
Pickup timings: September 10 & 11
12 noon to 4:00 p.m.
Enjoy a freshly-prepared, family-style Sadhya for dine-in or takeaway and take the stress out of planning this Onam.
Utsav Colors & Flavors Festival 2019
Location: Hotel Al Madinah Holiday, Ghala
Price: Call for ticket price.
Timings: September 13
11:00 a.m. till 10:00 p.m.
Contact: (+968) 9139-1325/26/27
This Onam-Fest cultural celebration will feature games for the whole family, displays of traditional arts, and a 23-course Sadhya meal prepared by Nalukettu Restaurant. The perfect way to celebrate Onam with the whole family!