Wishing you all a very Happy Onam!!
Onam is a traditional ten day harvest festival celebrated in my home state - the state of Kerala, in southern India, and marks the homecoming of the mythical King Mahabali. It’s a festival rich in culture and heritage and is celebrated in the beginning of the month of Chingam (the first month of the Malayalam Calendar). People typically decorate their home front-yards with flowers arranged in beautiful patterns (pookalam), wear new clothes, take part in feasts served on banana leaves as plates and engage in a variety of dancing, sports and games.
The preparations for the traditional Onasadya /Onam sadya begin well in advance with some of the “make ahead” items being: Pickles, Sarkara varatti and Upperi (banana chips). Some items like Ingipuli and Pachadi are prepared on the day before the feast of Thiruonam. The number of vegetarian delicacies in an Onasadya ranges from 5 -12. Earlier it used be between 16 to 24 but nowadays this number has gone down with non-vegetarian fare entering the menu in some cases.
The main dishes that are made for the Onasadya /Onam sadya are: Sambar, Olan, Kalan, Pachadi, Kichadi, Thoran, Kootu Curry, Puli Inji/ Inji Curry, Aviyal, Erisseri, Olan, Theeyal, Paripu curry, Pickles, Pappadam, Banana Chips (Upperi), Sarkkara Varatti
Achar (Spicy Pickle)
Inji Curry / Puli Inji
Pulissery (Vegetables in Yogurt Sauce)
Avial (Mixed Vegetables in Coconut and Yogurt)
Theeyal (Vegetables in spiced roasted coconut gravy)
Vazhuthanenga (Eggplant) Theeyal
Thoran (Vegetable stir-fry with coconut)
Brussels Sprouts Thoran
Broccoli Vanpayar Thoran
Mushroom & Spring Onion Thoran
Mezhukkupuratti (Stir fried vegetables)
Yellow Squash and Zucchini with Coconut (Thenga Kuthu)
Brussels Sprouts and Potato
Malabar Kootu Curry (Black Chickpea, Yam and Raw Banana with Coconut)
Mathanga (Butternut Squash) Curry
The food is served on a banana leaf. The traditional order of eating is believed to aid in digesting such a huge vegetarian fare.
Laying the banana leaf
The banana leaf is laid on the table or ground and the narrow part of the leaf should always be on the left side.
Serving begins from the bottom left half of the leaf.
Bottom left half of the leaf
Banana -> Pappadam -> Sarkara varatti -> Upperi
Top left half of the leaf
From the left: Pickle -> Injicurry -> Thoran -> Olan -> Avial -> Pachadi -> Kichadi
Bottom center of the leaf
Rice: First, parippu curry is served along with ghee -> next round is Sambhar -> final round is Kalan or Rasam
Last but not the least is the dessert – Payasam!!!
The traditional way to have this is on the banana leaf along with some lime pickle but nowadays most people prefer it in cups.
Adaprathaman -> Kadala Payasam
If you have more appetite and room take some more rice along with Puliseri or Mooru (curry from curd) which helps in digesting this huge vegetarian feast
Text adapted from about.com, hindu-blog.com