Onam Sadya – The Traditional Festival Feast

There is no dearth for festivals and celebrations in India. Cultural, religious and social celebrations always keep the festive mood abuzz in one state or other. The celebrations are literally and figuratively coloured by the emotions and mythology attached to them. Any such festivity is incomplete without traditional and sumptuous food being served. Onam Festival is one such event that is made special on the culmination day of the 10-day long celebration. Onam Sadya as it is known in the colloquial language in Kerala is a traditional menu of food items prepared on the final day of Onam.

The multicourse Onam Sadya ideally is a feast of 24 items including the plantain leaf on which it is served. However, changing times and situations have affected the course of the feast in many places. Traditional families stick to the routine and provide the full course of Onam Sadya to family and friends. Others may reduce the number of items for practical reasons. In any case, seldom can you find a family that doesn't prepare Onam Sadya on the last day of Onam.

No matter in which country or continent a Keralite is, s/he will look forward to the Onam Sadya today. My company in the UAE is no exception. We have a special Onam Sadya today. Wearing traditional attire, we all sit down, and fresh plantain leaves are spread. Item by item, the leaf-platter will be full. Let us have a detailed look at the menu.

Image by keplermanuel from Pixabay

Plantain Leaf

Once you are seated, in comes the first item in the list. A fresh piece of plantain leaf on which all the items will be served


A pinch of salt. For those who like to add more salt to rice or curry

Lime Pickle

The tangy and spicy flavor of lime with meal is enjoyed by many. Some households have mango or mixed vegetable pickle.

Kootu Curry

Kootu curry is a mixture of different items like ash gourd, carrot, yam, pumpkin and raw plantain. The dry and slightly spicy mixture is enjoyed by many.


It is a coconut-based curry and whitish in appearance. Prepared with ash gourd and pumpkin, it is a simple and tasty curry. The distinctive flavor of this curry stands out among others.


Yellow colored, slightly sour gravy makes it special in appearance and flavor. Made with raw plantain and yogurt it is a must for Onam sadya.


Bottle gourd and curds are the main ingredients in this dish. It has a beautiful appearance and unique taste.

Cabbage Thoran

Nothing fussy about this one. It is a simple cabbage stir fry item. Finely sliced cabbage blended well with shallots, chilies, fresh grated coconut and spices makes it a tasty side dish.


It is one of the main curries of Onam Sadya. One wonders which veggie item is not in the curry. You can add pretty much all vegetables to prepare this. The gravy dish with amble vegetable pieces is a delight to enjoy.

Parippu(dal) Curry

Although dal curry is a common item in most part of India, in Kerala it comes with a different flavor. Presence of coconut and other spices prepared in coconut oil gives the curry a distinct aroma.


Several herbs and spices in one curry. The watery essence of different ingredients gives a delightful flavor in your mouth. Being a good digestive agent, it is essential part of any healthy meal.


A traditional mixed vegetable curry that is enjoyed in all seasons. The semi-gravy dish is a delicious blend of different vegetables with ground coconut.

Ulli Theeyal

One of the special items in Sadya is Ulli theeyal. Basic ingredient in it is onion. Flavors of onion, tamarind and other spices make it tasty and healthy.

Pumpkin Erissery

Worried about the many spicy varieties? You will then enjoy this one. The mildly sweet dish is prepared with pumpkin, cowpeas and coconut. With a few other spices, Erissery tastes sweeter.

Beetroot Thoran

It is a sweet and spicy dry curry. With minimum spices, dry chilly and grated coconut, the dish looks appealing too.

Enji Curry

The mesmerizing aroma, and multiple flavors of ginger, jaggery and curry leaves make it so special. The simple yet tasty dish is a must for any delicious meal.

Spiced Buttermilk

Butter milk flavored with ginger, green chilies, shallots and curry leaves is a healthy treat.


Usually boiled brown rice is served and not the white rice for the Sadya. You may enjoy 2-3 servings of rice with different curries.

Kerala Banana Chips

Nicely sliced unripe nendran banana fried in coconut oil delights you at the first look. The crispy, scrumptious chips are must for the Sadya.

Sarkara Upperi

Another authentic sweet recipe made of nendran banana. Sliced into small cube shape, the banana pieces are dipped into liquid jaggery before frying it. You are certain to ask for a second serving for this one.


A small banana is served to be had at the end of the meal.


The thin, round, and crispy side dish is a favorite among kids. Made of gram flour or tapioca or rice flour it has a top position in Onam Sadya.

The feast only gets better towards the end. Once you are done with rice and side dishes, you are served payasam. It is a sweet, thick watery dessert prepared with different ingredients.


Paal Payasam – Rice, milk, sugar and ghee are the main ingredients. You will love the taste of this item.

Moong dal payasam – The aroma will tempt you to go for more and more. The rich and creamy payasam has three main ingredients mung lentils, jaggery and coconut milk.

Usually there are two varieties of payasam as part of Onam Sadya. Other flavors are popular too.

The best and traditional way to enjoy payasam is to blend banana and papad in it. It is a taste you will cherish for a long time.

If you are not used to squatting down, you are going to be in trouble. After the heavy meal, you may need a helping hand to stand up. Nevertheless, let me assure you, it is an experience you should not miss if you get a chance. Onam Sadya is such a flavor-full, joy-full and memorable event.

Wish you all a happy and prosperous Onam 2020! Follow the safety norms while enjoying the Sadya.



A Travel enthusiast and Foodie, craving to explore the intricate beauty of nature and its gift of delectable treats. Pens down his thoughts and experiences to present a delightful journey for his readers

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