Onam 2023: Chef Joji James Shares 3 Traditional Sadhya Recipes
Image Credit: Amal Tamara

The festival of Onam is all about celebrating new harvests, flowers and the return of King Mahabali to God’s Own Country. The 10-day long festival is not only celebrated in Kerala but all over the world, wherever Malayalis may be living. A key part of the Onam celebrations is the making of an elaborate Onam Sadhya or Onasadhya feast. Traditionally served on a banana leaf, the Onasadhya consists of 20+ dishes ranging from snacks to curries to desserts. 

For most people, making an elaborate Onam Sadhya at home can be quite a difficult task, especially if you are a beginner. To help you out, Joji James, the Executive Chef at Amal Tamara, Kerala, has shared three incredibly delicious and traditional Onam Sadhya recipes from his own kitchen. As a chef who specializes in sattvik and vegetarian cuisines for wellness in Kerala, this Joji James’ Sadhya recipes will not only fill your tummy but also nourish your soul on the occasion of Onam. 

Here are Chef Joji James’ special recipes for Rasam, Kovakka Mezhukupuratti and Avial. Try these at home to make this Onam an auspicious occasion with a delicious feast. 


Amidst the tapestry of traditional dishes that grace your Onam Sadhya, Rasam stands out as a pivotal star, infusing a burst of tangy and aromatic flavours. This beloved South Indian dish, with its heart-warming blend of spices and rich tomato base, adds a touch of comfort to any meal. Follow this simple recipe to create a delightful pot of Rasam that will elevate your Onam Sadhya. 

Serves: 2  


1/2 teaspoon Mustard Seeds 

2 pinches of Cumin Powder 

A few Curry Leaves 

A pinch of Asafoetida 

2 ripe Tomatoes 

1/2 teaspoon Crushed Garlic 

Salt, to taste 

1/4 teaspoon Turmeric Powder 

1/4 teaspoon Chilli Powder 

1/2 teaspoon Coriander Powder 

1/4 teaspoon Crushed Pepper 

2 tablespoons Tamarind Pulp 

2 tablespoons Chopped Coriander Leaves 

2 tablespoons Coconut Oil 


1. Start by chopping the tomatoes, curry leaves, and garlic. Set them aside for later use. 

2. In a pan, heat coconut oil and add the mustard seeds along with the curry leaves.  

3. Once the mustard seeds splutter, add the chopped tomatoes and garlic and give them a good mix. 

4. Add the asafoetida and cumin powder to the mixture. 

5. Cover the pan and gently cook the mixture until the tomatoes turn soft. At this point, sprinkle in salt and ensure thorough mixing. 

6. When the tomatoes reach a soft, mushy consistency, incorporate the turmeric powder, chilli powder, coriander powder, and crushed pepper. 

7. Stir in the tamarind juice, ensuring all the spices and flavours meld together perfectly.  

8. Add water to the mixture and allow it to boil.  

9. As the liquid reaches a boil, add freshly chopped coriander leaves. 

10. Serve the Rasam piping hot, allowing its tantalising flavours to be savoured and appreciated as part of your Onam Sadhya!  

Kovakka Mezhukupuratti 

Kovakka Mezhukupuratti, or Ivy Gourd Stir-Fry, stands as a remarkable example of how simple ingredients can be elevated to create a dish that truly embodies the essence of South Indian cuisine. With its amalgamation of flavours and textures, this stir-fry presents itself as a delightful addition to any meal. As you meticulously prepare your Onam Sadhya, envision this delightful stir-fry as a cherished addition to your spread.  


250g Kovakka (Ivy gourd) 

1 Onion 

Few Curry Leaves 

A pinch of Turmeric Powder 

A pinch of Cumin Powder 

Salt, to taste 

1 gram Pepper 

2 tablespoons Coconut Oil 


1. Wash and thinly slice the Kovakka (ivy gourd). 

2. In a pan, heat the coconut oil and add mustard seeds. Allow the mustard seeds to pop. Sauté the curry leaves and chopped onions until the onions soften. 

3. Incorporate the sliced Kovakka into the pan, along with turmeric and pepper powder. Mix well to ensure the spices coat the vegetables evenly. 

4. Cook for 10-15 minutes until stickiness disappears and cover the pan.  

5. Add salt and give it a thorough stir. Continue cooking until the Kovakka becomes tender and well-cooked. 

6. Transfer to a serving dish and enjoy hot!  


Avial perfectly encapsulates the spirit of Onam Sadhya, a grand feast that embodies unity, gratitude, and the vibrant essence of Kerala's cultural heritage. This dish brings together a harmonious blend of vegetables and spices, creating a medley that not only delights the palate but also symbolises the collective harmony of the festival. Follow this recipe to create a delicious Avial that's rich in taste and tradition. 

Serves: 2 


50g Carrot 

50g Curry Cucumber 

50g Okra 

50g Kerala Banana 

50g Drumstick 

30g Yam 

30g Snake Gourd 

Few Curry Leaves 

1/2 teaspoon Turmeric Powder 

1 tablespoon Coconut Oil 

1 teaspoon Cumin Seeds 

1/4 cup Crushed Coconut 

1 Long Bean 

3 Shallots 

2 Tomatoes 

1/2 cloves Garlic 

Salt, to taste 


1. Combine all the vegetables in a pot apart from the tomatoes. Add some water, salt, and turmeric powder. 

2. Mix the vegetables well and let them cook with the lid on until they reach a tender yet slightly firm texture. 

3. In a separate bowl, roughly crush the coconut, shallots, garlic, and cumin seeds together.  

4. Once the vegetables are cooked, add the crushed coconut mixture and the tomatoes to the pot. Continue cooking until the raw smell disappears and the tomatoes blend in. 

5. Mix the ingredients thoroughly and allow the mixture to come to a gentle boil.  

6. To add a final touch of authenticity, sprinkle coconut oil over the Avial.  

7. Give the Avial a final mix and serve hot!