Feast for soul: deconstructing the rich, colourful Onam Sadhya meal for rookies

It’s that time of the year again when Malayalis don their traditional kasavu (handwoven Kerala sarees) and mundu (dhoti) to celebrate the ten-day festival of Onam with an elaborate vegetarian feast. Onam is a festival which marks the harvest season for Kerala. The 10-day festival culminates with a grand Sadhya meal where families come together and eat. This year the festival starts on August 30 and concludes on September 8, 2022.

This year, at the luxurious Savya Rasa restaurant in New Delhi, we explored the delicious and lavish Sadhya spread in style. With intricately designed Pookalams to enchanting music and a meal which has over 30 dishes, the OnaSadhya served at Savya Rasa befits a King like Mahabali. Here’s a quick lowdown on what’s the significance of different food items that’s served at Onasadhya (a vegetarian feast served on a banana leaf)

Typically, the right side of the leaf holds the side dishes and the left end is reserved for pickles, chips, pappadom, and banana. With approximately 25 preparations on the menu, this grand affair pays due respect to all six tastes – salty, spicy, sweet, sour and bitter.

The thali includes some signature dishes like the upperi (salted banana chips), shakara varratti (jaggery chips), inji curry (ginger curry), parippu with ghee (yellow daal), sambar, olan (pumpkin curry), pulissery (a dish of pumpkin and yoghurt), ellisheri (a mix of pumpkin and lobia), avial (mix veg), chor (rice), kaalan (raw banana curry), moru kachiyathu (buttermilk), rasam, pachadi (mix veg raita), pappadam (crackers) and other dishes.

Sadya dishes are served in a specific order, and they also have their designated places on the banana leaf. Some of the most loved dishes in the Sadhya are Sambaram, Sharkara Varatti, Parippu Vada, Injipuli, Thoran, Mezhkkuperatti, Aviyal, Pachadi, Pappadam, Ada pradhaman and Upperi.

Rice is served hot only after the person sits down to eat. Parippu (dal) is served on top of the hot rice with a dash of ghee. Erisserry, avial, thoran and papad make the perfect combination with the dal. Sambar is served as a second course with rice followed by kaalan. Hot, peppery rasam poured over rice ends the rice course.

“Kerala being a very important part of the culinary heritage of the South and Ona Sadhya being one of the most popular festivals of the region, we at Savya Rasa want to make sure that we create as authentic an experience as possible to make us a one-stop destination for experiencing a Sadhya meal. With cooks from Kerala who join our kitchen team for the Sadhya period, ingredients and spices sourced directly from the region, Sadhya at Savya Rasa is a grand affair and an experience to be had. We pride ourselves in creating the biggest and the most authentic Sadhya in town”, says Chef Sheik Mohideen, Brand Chef Savya Rasa.

The food experience is especially curated for Delhi NCR foodies as part of the 4th edition of the Red FM South Side Story and will have popular indie bands and music artists like Street Academics, Arivu, The Ambasa Collective, Lagori, Rapper Thirumali, Sirthara, Job Kurian, Agam, Thaikkudam Bridge and Avial. One can experience the lavish Sadhya curated by food partner, Savya Rasa along with engaging experiences for audience like modern day martial art, kalaripayattu, mundu draping, Kathakali dancers and much more on 4th of September at NSIC ground Okhla, New Delhi.

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