Indulge in an extensive spread of native vegetarian delicacies of Kerala
Last year I was fortunate enough to witness the grandeur of Kerala when my friend Vijaya invited me to Palakkad as a special guest for the Onam celebration. Every inch of the state turns into a visual treat around this regional festival. Elaborate Pookalams or floral rangoli in front of each house welcome the friends, family members and guests alike. For entertainment 'Onamkalli or games for this soiree add to the fun quotient. But what notches up the revelries are the mindboggling range of scrumptious meals or Onam sadhya, prepared extensively for 10 long days of this celebration. The spread is to die for. It is indeed any foodie's ultimate culinary experience and a legit explanation why Kerala is called: The God's Own Country.
A banquet is what is meant by "sadhya" in Malayalam. It is essentially a vegetarian feast prepared for religious ceremonies and festivals or social events like weddings. I was no exception. I attempted to learn the names and specialities of a few most popular and easy-to-make dishes that set the sadhya platter.
As a pro tip, I was told by the elderly women of my friend's family that any sadhya requires a lot of time to prepare the entire menu. To make it less tedious, chop the vegetables needed for the various recipes the day before and store them in the refrigerator. Likewise, coconut should be grated and frozen. Some specific recipes call for a ground paste of coconut, cumin, and green chillies. One can combine and prepare them in advance.
It is almost impossible for a first-timer to prepare all of them in one go. However, ten vegetarian Onam fares are reasonable, to begin with.
Pepper kootu kari, Image Credit: pepperdelight,com
Also referred to as kootu kari is a creamy dish that uses a few vegetables, including yam, ash gourd, carrots, snake gourd, pumpkin, or plantains. Additionally, it also adds legumes such as black chickpeas (kala chana) and Bengal gram (chana dal). It is a must on Onam sadhya.
White pumpkin or kumbalanga, red lobia or chawli, and coconut milk are used to make this delectable curry. The coconut milk adds to its creamy texture and makes Olan a great mate for steamed rice. Instead of regular ones, try serving Olan with Kerala Matta rice.
Thoran is a dish made with finely chopped or grated vegetables cooked with shallots, freshly grated coconut, chillies, and other spices. You can omit the shallots. Cabbage Thoran is a dry vegetarian dish in which the cabbage is stir-fried.
Kerala Varutharacha is a scrumptious sambar variant. It is made with coconut, roasted spices, mixed vegetables, and lentils. One of the highlights of this recipe is the roasted coconut. Varutharacha sambar hence has a different flavour than the standard type.
Another staple during Onam is Parippu curry. It is moong dal prepared by adding spices and a lot of coconuts. One can also use tuvar dal instead of mung. A few like to add onions; it is optional.
One of the staple foods prepared at Onam Sadya is pumpkin or Mathanga Erissery. In some areas of Kerala, it is also known as Elisseri. Pumpkin, cowpeas, and coconut are used to make a mild, well-balanced curry with subtle sweet undertones.
This is pure bliss and enhances your love for banana chips. In this traditional sadhya cuisine, thin layers of jaggery, spices, and herbs smear over raw banana or plantain chips.
Kalan, Image Credit:poornimacookbook@blogspot
A sour-tasting gravy Kalan is cooked with vegetables like yam and plantain. A good amount of curd or buttermilk goes into it. Additionally, ground coconut is added, which counteracts the curd's sour flavour.
In the southern region of India, it is one of the most renowned dishes. Its traditional origins can be found in Kerala. It is a creamy mixed vegetable curry with coconut, curd, and a variety of seasonal vegetables like yam, ash gourd, carrots, and raw bananas.
It is impossible to resist this dish. To make it, slices of yam are thinly sliced and then boiled along with a few spices. Then they are fried in coconut oil.
It's time to satiate your tastebuds with a vegetarian Onam sadhya spread.