Onam 2023: 7 Avial Varieties You Must Relish In The Sadhya
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Onam is one of the most important festivals for Malayalis living in Kerala, parts of India or anywhere in the world. Predominantly a harvest festival celebrated over a period of 10 days, Onam is also associated with the legend of Lord Vishnu’s Vamana avatar and Kerala’s ancient mythical King Mahabali. The festival reaches its peak on the 10th day, Thiruvonam which falls on 29 August this year. So, on the last day of Onam, the celebrations reach a new high, especially with incredible Sadhya meals. 

For those unaware, Sadhya is a festive meal from Kerala which consists of 20+ dishes including snacks, starters, main courses, desserts and drinks. Served at weddings as well as festivals like Vishu and Onam, a Sadhya symbolizes the variety and range of Kerala cuisine. The Onam Sadhya, also known as Onasadhya, is usually a fully vegetarian affair—except in parts of North Kerala or Malabar, where the norm is also to add certain non-vegetarian items. 

One of the key components of a Sadhya is a dish called Avial or Aviyal. A coconut-based curry, Avial is made with a variety of vegetables. Since Onam is a harvest festival, having more than one kind of Avial on the Sadhya meal that represents the fresh produce of the region is quite normal. If you want to add some Avial to your Onam Sadhya today, here are some incredible options to choose from. 

Video Credit: YouTube/Sharmis Passion

Cheera Avial 

Cheera avial, also known as Sivappu Keerai Aviyal in Tamil, is a variety of avial loaded with the flavours of red amaranth leaves. Often, raw mango is also added to the dish to make it tangier. A basic blend of coconut-cumin seeds-green chillies is used to flavour the dish and coconut milk is later added to add a thicker gravy too. 

Kovakkai Avial 

Kovakkai refers to ivy gourd or tindora in Malayalam, so this avial variety celebrates the flavours of this small vegetable. A spice blend of ground coconut, cumin seeds, red chilli, turmeric and coriander is used to flavour this dish. Tomatoes and onions are usually added to the avial. 

Vendakkai Avial 

In Malayalam, Vendakkai means lady’s finger or okra, which is also known as bhindi in other parts of the country. Coconut, turmeric powder, dry red chilli, cumin seeds and water is used to make a base for this avial. A tempering of mustard seeds and curry leaves is added on top and the dish is often flavoured with tamarind pulp. 

Mutta Avial 

In certain parts of Kerala, where non-vegetarian dishes are also inlcuded in the Sadhya, Mutta Avial is a delicacy. Mutta means eggs in Malayali, so this aviyal variety is made with boiled eggs along with a variety of veggies like beans and carrots. The base of coconut-cumin-chillies remains the same. 

Mangai Avial 

Mangoes, both ripe and raw are used to make curries like Pulissery, Erissery and Aviyal across Kerala. Referred to as Mangai or Manga, raw mangoes are cooked with a mix of coconut, cumin seeds, chillies and some other vegetables to make this tangy and tasty avial variety. 

Pachakaya Avial 

Kerala is well-known for its banana preparations ranging from chips to curries, so it is quite natural that there would be an avial made with this ingredient too! Pachakaya avial is just that dish. Nendran bananas are used to make this avial which is also loaded with the flavours of coconut and chillies. 

Chena Avial 

Chena or elephant foot yam is considered to be a delicacy in Kerala, especially when the fresh harvest comes in—so it simply has to be present on the Sadhya platter. Chunks of yam are cooked with a spice blend of coconut, cumin seeds, chillies, turmeric and salt, and then a tempering of curry leaves and mustard seeds is added on top.