Onam 2023: Chef G. Somasundaram Shares Two Sadhya Recipes

Onam is an auspicious festival in Kerala that is celebrated with great excitement and enthusiasm. Also known as Thiru-Onam or Thiruvonam, this harvest festival marks the return of King Mahabali to the state. This festival is observed for ten days, and it falls in the first month of the Malayalam calendar, called Chingam. This year, it began on August 20 and will continue until August 31. Along with rangolis, dances, and boat races, Onam also brings a delicious feast called sadhya.

Onam sadhya is an enormous meal that consists of several traditional dishes from the state. Served on a banana leaf, the meal consists of a variety of flavorful delights. The dishes are served in a specific order, and all of them have their designated places on the leaf. Though sadhya is a part of the tenth day of the festival, the preparations begin much in advance. Some common dishes at the feast are papadam, pachadi, thoran, rasam, payasam, avial, parippu, olan, kalan, and so on. 

The mixed vegetable dish, avial, is prepared differently across Kerala. It showcases its regional diversity across Kerala. In Kollam, it replaces yoghurt with tomatoes for a tangy twist, while Travancore prefers tamarind pulp, cooking the veggies to a softer consistency. Valluvanad imparts sourness through yoghurt, while Palakkad preserves its white hue by skipping turmeric.

Various districts add unique elements like raw mango slices, and vegetables like plantains, snake gourd, winter melon, carrots, and drumsticks maintain Avial's core identity, with occasional appearances of eggplants, French beans, potatoes, and bitter gourd depending on the region. If you are also preparing a sadhya platter this year, here are two recipes shared by Chef G. Somasundaram, Executive Chef, Renaissance Bengaluru Race Course Hotel:


Avial is an important dish on the sadhya platter. It is rich, delicious, and packed with nutrients. Originating from the state of Kerala, it is made by cooking vegetables (such as yam, carrot, beans, drumsticks, etc.) in a coconut and yoghurt sauce, then finishing off with curry leaves and coconut oil. Apart from Onam, this healthy dish can also be served for lunch with steamed rice, sambar, pickles, and papadam. 


  • 100 g of yam
  • 100 g snake gourd
  • 100 g of yellow cucumber
  • 1 raw, green banana
  • 100 gm carrot
  • 100 g of beans
  • 2 whole drumsticks
  • 200 ml of curd
  • 150 g of grated coconut
  • 10 g cumin
  • 5 g of turmeric powder
  • 25 ml of coconut oil
  • 4 green chillies
  • 5–10 curry leaves
  • 500 ml of water
  • Salt as per taste


  • To make Kerala-style avial, first wash and clean all the vegetables. Cut the vegetables lengthwise, approximately 2 inches long.  
  • Make a coarse paste of the coconut with cumin, green chillies, and curry leaves in a mixer blender and keep it aside. Beat the curd and set it aside. 
  • Heat oil in a kadai and put all the vegetables in it. Add a cup of water and salt, a pinch of turmeric powder, and a few curry leaves. Cook until 3/4ths done and set aside.
  • Meanwhile, heat a wide pan and add the coconut oil, cumin, curry leaves, and green chillies. Add all the vegetables and sauté well for a couple of minutes.
  • Add another cup of water. Cover and cook until the vegetables are done. Add the coarsely ground coconut mixture. Cover and cook for a few more minutes, then add the curd.
  • Mix gently, and add a tablespoon of coconut oil to finish off. Your aircraft is ready to serve.

Thakkali Paruppu 

This is a hearty tomato dal dish that is warm, comforting, and easy to prepare. Cooked with cumin, green chillies, tomatoes, and toor dal, thakkali paruppu is very healthy and delicious. It is an ideal addition to your sadhya meal and can also be served for day-to-day lunch with rice, idlis, or rotis.


  • 500 gm toor dal
  • 250 g of tomato chopped
  • 50 g of onion chopped
  • 5 g curry leaves
  • 5 g of coriander leaves
  • 5 g of mustard seeds
  • 3 g of round red chillies
  • 10 g of green chillies
  • 5 g of turmeric powder
  • 15 g of crushed garlic
  • 5 g of crushed black pepper
  • 50 ml of coconut oil
  • salt to taste


  • Boil the dal and keep it aside.
  • Add the coconut oil, mustard seeds, red chilli, curry leaves, crushed pepper, and garlic.  
  • Sauté till the garlic gets golden brown in colour, then add the chopped onion and sauté for 2 more minutes. 
  • Then add the chopped tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes.
  • Add turmeric powder and cook till the raw flavour goes away.  
  • Add the cooked dal and boil it for 5 minutes. Serve hot.