This Onam Why Not Make the Sadhya at Home? Everything You Need to Know About Preparing a Sadhya & 10 Key Recipes (2019)

This Onam Why Not Make the Sadhya at Home? Everything You Need to Know About Preparing a Sadhya & 10 Key Recipes (2019)


Widely celebrated in Kerala, Onam is a festival that every Malayali looks forward to. However, it is incomplete without the grand feast of Onam Sadhya. So, this Onam, plan your own Onam Sadhya and try out these recipes at home. It will definitely be a memorable Onam for you and your friends and family.

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Reasons for Celebrating Onam with Such Zeal

Onam is the harvest festival of Kerala, God’s Own Country. It is celebrated in the Chingham month in the Malayalam calendar and coincides with the end of the monsoon season. The festival is celebrated with harmony and enthusiasm by Malayalees all around the world. The legend behind Onam also renders itself to the ardor and devotion by which it is celebrated.

The Legend of King Mahabali and Vamana

Onam is celebrated to honor the King Mahabali, the great king of Kerala. He was also the king of demons(asuras) and Kerala blossomed under his rule. It was a golden period for the Malayalees under King Mahabali. The Gods felt that his fame was a threat to them and approached Lord Vishnu to curb his reign and popularity. Lord Vishnu disguised as a Brahmin boy,(his Vamana incarnation) went to Mahabali. The king, a benevolent person, accorded the Brahmin boy with anything he wishes.

Vamana asked for three feet of land and the king being in a charitable mood offered it. Vamana took three cosmic steps, the first step being the earth and the second step being the sky. And with no space to keep the third, King Mahabali offered himself. Impressed, Lord Vishnu then offered the king a boon, for which he requested that he be able to visit his people every year. This occasion is celebrated as Onam every year with the houses being decorated with flowers. People buy new clothes and celebrate the day with zeal.

Your Key to Onam Sadhya

Onam Sadhya is the most important part of every Onam celebration. An Onam Sadhya can have 24 to an elaborate 64 dishes. It is served on a banana leaf and is eaten by hand. The tradition is followed by the people of Kerala even today.

Onam Sadhya - Meaning

Sadhya can be interpreted as a feast. And on Onam, every Malayalee prepares an OnaSadhya and if it is not possible, they try to attend one at least. Onam Sadhya is important to every Malayalee anywhere in the world. A saying in Kerala loosely translates to “Have an Onam Sadhya even if you have to sell your property”.

The Sadhya is prepared with seasonal vegetables and fruits available in the market. It is a nine-course meal with a minimum of two dozen dishes. Rice is the main dish in the feast with many curries, vegetables and ending with puddings. The multitude of dishes, when presented on a banana leaf, makes for an impressive sight, not to mention delicious.

Dishes in Onam Sadhya

Onam Sadhya is so integral to Onam celebrations that even pookolams take the backstage. The Sadhya is an elaborate preparation consisting of simple vegetarian dishes.

While the number of dishes made for Onam lunch is around 24, there are a few basic dishes that have to be there.

  • Rasam: A watery tamarind dish made using tomato and tamarind along with spices like pepper, garlic, asafoetida, coriander etc.
  • Paripu Curry: A lentil curry made using lentils, coconut oil and ground coconut with a touch of asafoetida.
  • Sambhar: A thick lentil gravy consisting of lentils, vegetables including drumstick, and flavoured with asafoetida.
  • Olan: A dish made with white gourd and coconut milk, seasoned with ginger and coconut oil.
  • Puli Inji: A must-have dish for Onam Sadhya, a puli inji is a delicious mix of sweet, hot and sour.
  • Aviyal: With a mix of seasonal vegetables and garnished with ground coconut an Onasadhya is never complete without this dish.
  • Pachadi: A dish consisting of ash gourd or pineapples or even grapes in a gravy of ground coconut and green chilly and garnished with mustard seeds.
  • Kalan: This dish combines raw banana, yogurt, pepper, fennel seeds and black pepper. The specialty is that it stays perfect for a good number of days.
  • Erissery: A delightful combination of vegetables in a gravy of ground coconut.
  • Thoran: Stir-fried vegetables in coconut oil and garnished with grated coconut.
  • Kichadi: Similar to raita, with vegetables like cucumber are added to a yogurt base.
  • Payasam: The dessert or the pudding course consisting of lentils, ada to name a few.

Serving Onam Sadhya -The Right Way

The meal is first served to Lord Ganesha, before serving to the guests and family members. The Nilavilaku is also lit in front of Ganesha to signify a good start of an auspicious occasion.

If making an Onam Sadhya is a work of art, serving it in the right way has a class of its own.

  • On a clean banana leaf, serve the sadhya starting from the left corner.
  • The first dish is a papadom with a banana on top. To the right, serve salt, and fried items.
  • Next, the different pickles are served followed by pachadi. Thoran, kootu kari, and avial are served to the right.
  • Once the guests sit down for lunch, the rice is served in the middle and a dollop of ghee is poured on top.
  • For the first serving, paripu curry is served followed by sambar and rasam in the subsequent courses.
  • The dessert courses include the multitude of payasams starting with adaprathaman.

10 Onam Sadhya Recipes

Mambazha Unniyappam - Mango Unniyappam


Unniyappam, a popular snack in Kerala is a little tedious dish to make nevertheless quite delicious. It is a fried snack made using rice flour. The mambazha unniyappam comes with a delicious twist to the traditional sweet.


  • Ripe Mango – 2
  • Sugar - 1 cup
  • Whole Wheat Flour - ¾ cup
  • Lightly Roasted Rice Flour - ¼ cup
  • Black Sesame Seeds - ¼ tsp
  • Cardamom Powder - ¼ tsp
  • Coconut Bits - 3 tbsp
  • Milk/Water - ¼ cup
  • Salt
  • Ghee
  • Coconut oil


  • Puree mango in a mixer along with sugar.
  • Lightly roast the coconut bits and black sesame seeds in ghee.
  • Combine together wheat flour, rice flour, coconut bits, cardamom powder and sesame seeds with a pinch of ghee.
  • Mix in the milk and mango puree to make a thick batter and rest it for about 30 minutes.
  • Heat up an unniyappam pan on the stove and add 1 tbsp of coconut oil and ghee in each mold.
  • Ladle out the batter in each mold and reduce the flame to medium. Once cooked turn over the unniyappam.
  • Once both sides are cooked and brown, remove from the flame.

Kadumanga Achar - Mango Pickle


Mango pickle is a simple yet celebrated dish in India. There are various forms of this dish, depending on the place you live in. The dish we have for you is the instant form. The spicy, salty and tangy notes in this dish makes it a must-have in every sadhya.


  • Raw Mango - 1 Large (Diced)
  • Garlic - 1 tbsp (Finely Chopped)
  • Ginger - 1 tbsp (Finely Chopped)
  • Green Chilly - 3
  • Mustard Seeds - 1 tbsp
  • Curry Leaves - 1 Sprig
  • Red Chilli Powder - 4 tbsp
  • Turmeric Powder - 1 tsp
  • Fenugreek Powder - ¼ tsp
  • Asafoetida Powder - ¼ tsp
  • Gingelly Oil - 3tbsp
  • Salt
  • Water - 1 cup


  • Add salt to the diced mango and set it overnight to dehydrate.
  • Next morning: Add oil to a kadai; Once hot, add mustard seeds, curry leaves, green chillies, garlic and ginger.
  • Saute for a couple of minutes and add all the powders.
  • Let it sit for a minute and add the water. Mix in the required salt and bring to boil. Leave it on low heat until it thickens.
  • Once its thick like a gravy, add in the mango pieces and mix it in. Add more salt if needed.
  • Store it in a porcelain or glass jar.

Inji Thayir - Ginger in Yogurt

Ginger aids in digestion and with a huge feast such as the Onam Sadhya, it is really important that you have a few ginger-dishes. The Inji Thayir is a very simple dish that you can incorporate in your daily cooking as well.


  • Grated Ginger - 2 tbsp
  • Green Chillies - 2 (Finely Chopped)
  • Curry Leaves - 2 (Finely Chopped)
  • Shallots - 3 (Finely Chopped)
  • Curd - ¾ cup
  • Salt


  • Add all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and combine together.
  • If the ginger is strong and spicy, squeeze the juice out before adding to the curd.

Sharkkara Upperi - Jaggery Coated Banana Chips

Kerala is a hub for bananas of all kinds. You can find banana chips in many forms here. One such dish is the sugar-coated banana chips. No sadhya be it a wedding feast or Onam is complete without a Sharkkara Upperi.


  • Raw Plantain(Nendhran) - 5
  • Turmeric Powder
  • Sugar - ¼ cup
  • Jaggery - 2 ½ cups
  • Cardamom - ¼ tsp
  • Cumin Powder - ¼ tsp
  • Dry ginger - ½ tsp
  • Salt
  • Coconut Oil


  • Peel the bananas and wash them well to remove stickiness.
  • Cut them vertically and slice them into bigger pieces. Submerge them in salted turmeric water for about 20 minutes.
  • After 20 minutes, wash the banana and pat them dry.
  • Heat oil in a kadai. Once hot, add banana pieces. Fry them in slightly lower than medium flame. Give it an occasional stir to prevent them from sticking.
  • When the banana is a golden colour, remove them from the heat and transfer to a strainer.
  • Heat jaggery and water in a thick bottomed pan. Wait until the jaggery melts and strain it.
  • Reheat the syrup and keep stirring until the syrup reaches the right consistency. (i.e, thread consistency)
  • Lower the heat to minimum and add the fried banana pieces and mix well until the jaggery coats all the banana slices.
  • Remove from heat and add cardamom powder, cumin powder, and dry ginger. Finally, add the powdered sugar so that the pieces don't stick to one another.

Kerala Parippu Curry - Dal Curry

Parippu curry is yet another must-have dish in the OnaSadhya. It is simple to make, especially if it involves a pressure cooker. Though it is commonly made using toor dhal, this recipe uses moong dal or chirupayar paruppu. This is a no onion and no garlic recipe. But you can add both; They add a different dimension to the flavor.


  • Moong Dal/Chirupayar Paruppu - ¼ cup
  • Turmeric Powder - A Pinch
  • Grated Coconut - 2 tbsp
  • Green Chilli - 1
  • Cumin Seeds - ½ tsp
  • Curry Leaves - 1 Sprig
  • Mustard Seeds - ½ tsp
  • Coconut Oil
  • Water


  • Dry roast moong dal in a pressure cooker for a few minutes. Pressure cook it with 1 cup of water and turmeric for about 2 whistles.
  • Once the pressure is released, mash the dal with a ladle. .
  • Grind together coconut, cumin seeds and green chilli; Add it to the cooked dal. .
  • Add salt and more water; Boil the mixture for a few minutes. .
  • Temper mustard seeds and curry leaves in coconut oil and add it to the dal. .

Aviyal - Mixed Vegetables in Thick Coconut Paste

Aviyal is indigenous to Kerala and is a must-have item in all sadhya. No feast is complete without a serving of aviyal. This recipe uses curd but you can also add raw mango that is particularly sour.


  • Green Plantain - 1
  • Beans - 4
  • Long Beans - 4
  • Cucumber - ¼ cup
  • Yam - ¼ cup
  • Snake Gourd - ¼ cup
  • Green Chillies - 4
  • Turmeric Powder - ½ tsp
  • Shallots - 8
  • Curd - ½ cup
  • Turmeric Powder - ½ tsp
  • Cumin Seeds - ½ tsp
  • Coconut Oil
  • Grated Coconut


  • Wash the vegetables and cut them lengthwise.
  • Heat 1 tbsp of coconut oil in the kadai and add the vegetables along with salt.
  • Saute for about 1 minute, sprinkle water and close the lid. Reduce the heat to minimum and let it cook.
  • Grind the shallots and green chillies to a coarse paste; Add it to the vegetable mix; Also add turmeric and more salt if required.
  • Close the lid again and let the mixture cook.
  • Once it's cooked, add the grated coconut and curd. Let it cook for about 5 minutes in low flame.
  • Garnish with coconut oil and curry leaves.

Vendakka Pachadi - Okra Kichadi and Pachadi


Pachadi is the south Indian version of raita. It broadly refers to being pounded. Though it has yogurt like raita, it also has ground coconut and chili along with a vegetable. It can either be a cucumber, beetroot, carrots, squash etc. In some cases, it can also be a fruit like a mango or a pineapple. This recipe uses okra or lady’s finger.


  • Grated Coconut - ½ cup
  • Green Chillies - 2
  • Curd - 1 cup
  • Okra/Lady’s Finger - 100g
  • Cumin Seeds - ½ tsp
  • Mustard Seeds - ½ tsp
  • Chana Dal - ½ tsp
  • Urad Dal - ½ tsp
  • Dry Chilly - 1
  • Asafoetida Powder - A Pinch
  • Tumeric Powder - ¼ tsp


  • Wash and dry the okra. Once completely dry, cut them uniformly into pieces.
  • Heat oil in a wok and once hot add in okra, salt, turmeric powder and asafoetida. Fry the okra until golden brown. Set aside to cool.
  • Grind the coconut, cumin seeds and the green chillies together to form a paste.
  • Heat oil in a kadai and add mustard seeds, urad dal, chana dal and dry chilli one by one. Once the dals are golden brown.
  • Reduce the flame to the lowest setting and simmer the paste. Add curd and mix well along with salt.
  • Add in the fried okra and combine. Remove from fire and let it rest.

Beetroot Poriyal - Beetroot Stir Fry

Poriyal is a dry sabzi which often has coconut. This way of preparing the vegetables is famous in South India. Not only is it delicious, but it is also easy on the stomach with the minimum ingredients. The dish we have for you is made of beetroot which has a natural sweetness. It renders a refreshing element to the dish.


  • Beetroot - 250 gm (Chopped)
  • Grated Coconut - a handful
  • Ginger - ½ tsp (grated)
  • Urad Dal - ¼ tsp
  • Asafoetida - a pinch
  • Mustard Seeds - ½ tsp
  • Green Chilli - 1
  • Curry Leaves - 1 Sprig
  • Coconut Oil


  • Heat oil in a kadai and add mustard seeds, curry leaves, urad dal, and asafoetida one by one.
  • After the urad dal turns brown, add green chilli and ginger.
  • Saute for a minute and then add the chopped beetroot.
  • Sprinkle some water, add some salt, and saute for a minute. Lower the flame and cover the kadai.
  • Check the beetroot after 5 minutes and add more water if necessary.
  • Once it is cooked, add the coconut and mix it well with the beetroot.
  • Switch off the flame and serve it hot.

Kootu Curry - Mixed Vegetables & Chickpeas


Kootu literally means mixed or a combination. The kootu curry is a mix of vegetables and black chickpeas or kala chana. There are quite a few recipes for kootu curry depending on which part of Kerala you are from.


  • Tender Ashgourd - 1 cup
  • Raw Plantain - ½ cup
  • Yam - 1 cup
  • Black Chickpeas - ½ cup
  • Turmeric Powder - ¾ cup
  • Red Chilly Powder - 2 tsp
  • Grated Coconut - 1 ½ cup
  • Mustard Seeds - ½ cup
  • Curry Leaves - 1 Sprig
  • Cumin Seeds - 1 tsp
  • Dry Red Chilli - 3
  • Jaggery - 3 tbsp
  • Salt


  • Soak black chickpeas overnight and pressure cook it with enough water for 5 whistles.
  • Grind ¾ cup grated coconut and cumin seeds to a paste.
  • Cook the vegetables until it is almost cooked and most of the water has evaporated.
  • Add in the salt, jaggery, turmeric and red chilly powder.
  • Mix in the ground paste and saute for a few minutes.
  • Add in the chickpeas and cover and cook.

  • Prepare the tadka:
  • Heat the coconut oil and add mustard seeds, curry leaves, red chilli and the remaining grated coconut.
  • Pour the tadka over the kootu curry and let it rest for about 20 minutes.

Chakka Pradhaman - Jackfruit Pudding

Chakka pradhaman is a sweet dish that you can find in many Malayali homes and not just during festivals. You can find them particularly during the jackfruit season. Pradhaman or pudding is basically a dessert dish that is cooked in coconut milk. The other varieties are ada pradhaman, parippu pradhaman and more.


  • Ripe Jackfruit Flesh - 12
  • Jaggery - ½ cup (Grated)
  • Coconut - 1 cup (Grated)
  • Water - 1 cup
  • Cashews
  • Coconut Pieces - 3 tbsp (Chopped)
  • Ghee
  • Salt


  • Grind 1 cup of coconut in 1 cup of warm water to make the first milk aka thick coconut milk.
  • Add 1 more cup of water to the coconut and take the second milk aka thin coconut milk.
  • Deseed the jackfruit pieces and also the brown skin. Grind it to a paste.
  • Melt the jaggery in 1/4 cup of water to make the syrup. Strain the syrup.
  • Add the ground coconut pulp to the syrup along with ½ cup of water and heat it until the raw smell no longer remains. Reduce the flame to medium.
  • Add the thin milk at this stage and let it boil for a few minutes.
  • Add the thick milk and let it sit for just one boil. Check it for sweetness and take it off the flames.
  • Prepare a tadka with ghee, coconut pieces and cashews. Add it to the pradhaman and incorporate it well.

Tips and Tricks to Make Your Onam Sadhya a Success

Fix Your Menu

Write down your menu. Make a list of the mandatory items and also the optional items. For example aviyal, sambar, puli inji and at least one pradhamans are mandatory. On the other hand eriserri, moru curry and the multitude of other pickles are optional. Also keep your guests in mind when planning your Onam Sadhya menu.

Determine the Quantity


This is very important if you are hosting a Onam party. Finalize on the number of guests and determine how much you would have to cook. Also remember that you would have many dishes in your menu, so your guests might not eat as much as they usually do.

Plan Your Shopping

With the above two steps finished, make a list for the grocery shopping. Include every single item from mustard seeds to cashew nuts and rice. That way you don't miss anything and above all you don't run short of supplies when you are cooking.

Start Your Cooking Days Ahead


Certain side dishes like pickles can be made at least 3 days in advance. They just increase in flavor and keep well. A day before the party, cut all the necessary vegetables, soak and cook the necessary pulses. Also grate or cut the coconuts ready for cooking the next day. You can even cook pachadi the day before. But certain dishes like aviyal and parippu curry have to be cooked on the day of the sadhya.

Sunandha Wilis
After spending 12 years in the hectic corporate world, Sunandha quit the industry to follow her passion for writing. She enjoys writing on a variety of subjects including travel, health, beauty, fashion and technology. Apart from writing she also dons the hat of an editor from time to time. Her time off is spent listening to music and wrestling with her boys.
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Treat Your Guests with these Delicious Onam Sadhya Recipes in 2019

An Onam Sadhya is not an easy task to make and certainly not achieved in one day. But with proper planning, you can make it a roaring success. Follow these recipes and tips for hosting a successful Sadhya this year.