Onasadya, a grand and elaborate vegetarian feast

onam boat race known as vallamkali

Onasadya is a grand and elaborate vegetarian feast served during the Onam festival in the state of Kerala, India. It is one of the most essential and cherished aspects of the Onam celebrations, and the meal holds cultural and traditional significance for the people of Kerala.

The word "Onasadya" is a combination of two Malayalam words - "Onam," which is the name of the festival, and "sadya," which means a banquet or feast. This special feast is prepared with great care and is served on banana leaves to bring out the authentic flavors and essence of Kerala's traditional cuisine.

Onasadya is typically served during lunchtime, and it includes a wide variety of dishes, each with its unique taste and preparation method. The feast is a symbol of abundance, prosperity, and unity, and it is a way for people to express their gratitude for the bountiful harvest and the blessings of King Mahabali.

Here are some of the key components of an Onasadya:

Rice: The centerpiece of the feast is usually a mound of boiled Kerala red rice, which is slightly shorter and rounder in grain than regular rice.

Sambar: A flavorful lentil-based vegetable stew made with tamarind, spices, and a variety of vegetables like pumpkin, drumsticks, and beans.

Avial: A delicious mixed vegetable curry cooked in coconut and yogurt, giving it a unique creamy texture and taste.

Thoran: Stir-fried vegetables with grated coconut, mustard seeds, and curry leaves, adding a delightful crunch and flavor to the meal.

Kalan: A tangy and spicy yogurt-based curry made with yam, raw banana, and coconut.

Olan: A mild curry made with ash gourd, pumpkin, and cowpeas simmered in coconut milk.

Erissery: A combination of lentils and pumpkin or yam cooked in a coconut-based gravy.

Pachadi: A sweet and tangy yogurt-based dish with grated cucumber, pineapple, or beetroot.

Pulissery: A yogurt-based curry with vegetables like ripe mango or cucumber.

Payasam: The traditional dessert served during Onasadya is usually a sweet and creamy rice pudding made with jaggery, coconut milk, and spices. There are different types of payasams prepared, such as ada pradhaman (made with rice flakes) or palada payasam (made with rice noodles).

Banana and Other Accompaniments: Along with the main dishes, the feast also includes ripe bananas, pappadams (thin crispy lentil wafers), and various pickles to enhance the flavors.

Onasadya is a feast that showcases the rich and diverse culinary heritage of Kerala. It is prepared with love and served with warmth, promoting the spirit of togetherness and sharing among families and communities during the festive season. The tradition of Onasadya reflects the cultural values of hospitality, gratitude, and celebration that are an integral part of the Onam festival.