Onam is a major festival for Malayalis in Kerala and beyond, and cooking an Onasadhya or Onam Sadhya is one of the traditional ways to celebrate the occasion. However, an Onasadhya is never complete without Pulissery or Moru Curry. Here are a few types of this yoghurt-based dish you should try.
The harvest festival of Onam is now being celebrated by Malayalis across Kerala and the world. The 10-day festival not only signifies agricultural abundance, but also a time when the mythical King Mahabali returns to his beloved land of origin. So, naturally then the festivities around Onam include the making of floral Pookalams, dances and of course, the grand vegetarian feast called Sadhya.
While a Sadhya feast is always served at Malayali weddings and festivals like Vishu, what makes the Onam Sadhya or Onasadhya stand out is the range of fresh, in-season vegetables that are included in the feast. One of the primary dishes that represent this vast range is the Pulissery. Also known as Moru Curry, Pulissery is a yoghurt-based gravy dish from Kerala that is usually infused with the flavours of coconut.
In different parts of Kerala, Pulissery is made with a variety of vegetables and even fruits. Slightly tangy and mildly spicy in taste, a Pulissery is a balanced dish that is known not only for its incredible flavours but also the fact that it has many health benefits too. Not only is Pulissery loaded with seasonal vegetables packed with fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, but it is also rich in yoghurt. Yoghurt is famed to aid digestion, improve gut health and cool down the body, so the Pulissery also provides all of these health benefits.
As mentioned before, there are many varieties of Pulissery prepared across Kerala, and most of these find their way into the Onam Sadhya feast. If you are wondering which Pulissery varieties to add to your Onam Sadhya feast, here are a few options you must explore.
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1. Vazhakka Pulissery
Made with raw bananas, also known as Vazhakka or Kaya, this Pulissery variety is savoury and tangy. The chopped banana pieces are cooked in turmeric and salt water until soft, then a paste of coconut, green chillies and cumin is added. Once cooked, yoghurt and a tempering is added to finish off this dish.
2. Mambazha Pulissery
A summer speciality, this Pulissery is a rare dish made with ripe mangoes in a yoghurt base. Mambazha refers to mangoes in Malayali, and this special Pulissery is made by cooking the peeled, ripe mangoes from the region in a savoury gravy made with yoghurt, coconut, cumin and a mild tempering.
3. Chembu Pulissery
Chembu refers to taro or colocasia roots in Malayali, a root vegetable also known as Arbi in other parts of India. The chembu pieces are chopped and boiled, then cooked in a gravy of yoghurt, coconut, chillies and cumin. A tempering of mustard seeds, curry leaves and coconut oil is added at the end.
4. Nanjil Pulissery
Originating in the Nagercoil area of Kanyakumari, a border district of Kerala, Nanjil Pulissery is made with a base of yoghurt and rice. The rice is coarsely ground and then added to the gravy base, thickening it as it cooks. Occasionally, vegetables like ash gourd and papaya are also added to this Pulissery variety.
5. Nendra Pazham Pulissery
If you thought Mambazha Pulissery was the only one that includes a ripe fruit, Nendra Pazham Pulissery will make you rethink that. Made with ripe bananas, this Pulissery version strikes a balance of sweet, tangy and spicy flavours. Like all Pulisseries, this one is tempered with coconut oil, mustard seeds, curry leaves and dry red chillies.
6. Kumbalanga Pulissery
Kumbalanga refers to ash gourd in Malayali, so this Pulissery variety celebrates the flavours of this underrated vegetable. The ash gourd pieces are chopped and boiled, then added to a mildly spicy yoghurt gravy. The traditional Pulissery tempering is added on top before serving.
7. Kaidachakka Pulissery
Another fruity Pulissery variety, this one is made with sweet and tangy pineapples, adding to the flavours of the dish like no other. The pineapple chunks are added to the yoghurt base after boiling them a bit so that the gravy doesn’t split. A bit of jaggery is often added to counter the excessive tanginess the mix of yoghurt and pineapple can create.