Sadhya Meal Planning for Beginners to Master the Feast

India is a country full with colourful celebrations, and each state has its own unique cuisine and traditions. 'Sadhya' or 'Sadya', primarily Onam food, is a multicolored, comforting traditional feast consisting of more than 20 dishes served on a large banana leaf during the festival of Onam in God's own country, Kerala. The feast celebrated on the tenth day of the harvest festival, also known as "Thiru-Onam," Essentially, Onam is the Malay harvest festival and dishes during the feast are renowned to have unusual flavour combinations. Celebrating the harvest festival of Onam with a rich buffet of vegetarian meals served on a banana leaf, the feast has a particular place in the hearts of Keralites. This culinary display, which highlights the cuisine of Kerala, is a gorgeous medley of tastes, textures, and colours. Even though the Sadhya can be a complicated affair with many courses, anyone with a little bit of organisation and enthusiasm can try their hand at preparing this feast at home. 

Plan ahead 

To ensure a smooth preparation for your Sadhya feast, start by making a comprehensive list of the dishes you intend to prepare. This step will help you organize your cooking process and avoid last-minute confusion. Once your list of dishes is ready, proceed to create an itemized list of ingredients required for each dish. This strategic planning will not only streamline your shopping but also ensure that you have everything you need on hand, making your Sadhya cooking experience efficient and enjoyable. 

Meal prep  

Efficient meal preparation is a key to a successful culinary experience. Begin by breaking down common ingredients used across different dishes. Divide and measure spices, grains, and lentils beforehand, ensuring easy access during cooking. Chop and cut vegetables according to size requirements and store them in water overnight to maintain freshness. To add flavors, make pickles a day ahead, allowing time for them to mature. Delightful accompaniments like chips can also be prepared in advance; fry or bake them a day before and store them in airtight containers to maintain their crispiness. Streamlining these tasks in advance not only reduces the stress of cooking but also lets you focus on the creative aspect of assembling your Onam Sadhya feast. 

Batch cooking 

Begin by preparing dishes that can be stored or reheated without compromising quality. Pickles and sour curries don't spoil and keep well, so you can make them 2-3 days in advance. Prepare moru kootan, mango curry, etc., two to three days in advance.  Sambhaar, erisseri, and payasam can all be made a day ahead of time, and the rest of the dishes' preparation can be completed the day before. This approach saves time on the day of the feast and ensures that each dish is cooked to perfection. Additionally, as mentioned earlier, focus on tasks like chopping vegetables in advance and organizing your kitchen space. Cooking in batches allows you to manage your time effectively and enjoy the process of crafting a delightful and memorable Onam Sadhya. 

Share the load 

Having help from loved ones can make preparing the Onam Sadhya much more enjoyable. The communal mood that characterises the celebration can be carried over into the cooking process. Cooking together as a group is a great way to bond, share experiences, and make it more memorable. This not only lightens the load, but also adds a sense of unity, which makes the whole thing more fun and reinforces the spirit of oneness that Onam represents. To maintain the spirit of the celebration while spreading the workload among friends and family, consider organising a potluck.   

Readymade ingredients 

Simplify yourOnam Sadhya preparations by incorporating some readily available ingredients that will not make a much difference to the taste. Opt for convenience by using pre-shredded coconut and fresh coconut milk. Tamarind paste can replace the manual process of extracting tamarind juice and more such ingredients. These time-saving choices maintain authenticity without compromising flavor. This approach not only streamlines your cooking but also lets you focus on the finer details of the feast, ensuring a well-rounded and delightful Onam Sadhya experience. 

Banana Leaf 

Since the banana leaf is such an integral part of the Sadya meal, it is important to prepare it properly. Embrace tradition by arranging dishes in the classic style – place rice at the center and surround it with the array of delightful dishes. This presentation not only showcases the beauty of the Sadhya but also respects the cultural significance of the meal. 

Patience and Practice 

We are sure your efforts will surely bring the true flavours of the traditional Onam meal. Don't be disheartened if your first attempt isn't perfect. Onam Sadhya requires practice, and each attempt will bring you closer to mastering this culinary art.