How to prepare and serve onasadya dishes?


Onam is the state festival of Kerala which has a history as old as the history of Kerala. It is celebrated as a joyous annual reminiscence of the golden rule of a mythical King Mahabali,  who ruled Kerala a very long time ago. You can read more about this story behind Onam here.

Although the Onam festival has its origin in Hindu mythology, in the secular state of Kerala it is celebrated with equal fervor by people of all religion. Onam falls during the month of Chingam, the first month of the Malayalam Calendar, usually in August–September. The celebrations begin within a fortnight of the month Chingam and go on for ten days. The last day called the “Thiruvonam” is the most important.

The most important things about Onam are the

  • Onapookalam  (multi-coloured floral decoration on the ground in the front of their home).
  • Onakkodi (the new clothes worn on the day of thiruvonam).
  • Vallamkali (the snake boat race).
  • Onasadya (the grand Kerala feast) which is quite elaborate.

Onasadya / Onam sadya

All Keralites prepares Onasadya in a grand fashion irrespective of their wealth. There is also a saying in Kerala ‘Kaanam Vittum Unnanam’ which means “People should even sell all their possessions for one Onasadya”.  Funny? 😉

Its a strictly vegetarian meal with Rice as the main ingredient. The sadya is served on banana leaves and serves rice along with minimum 4 dishes excluding traditional pickles and papadam followed by at-least one dessert. The side dishes (usually 11, but can go even beyond 20) are Kalan or Pulisseri, Erissery, Olan, Pachadi, Kichadi, Thoran, Mulakoshyam, Koottukari, Aviyal, Sambar, Rasam, Upperi or chips, Pickles (achaar), Pappads (pappadam). This colorful arrangement of the food on the lush green banana leaves makes it even more tempting and irresistible.

The desserts are Payasams & Prathamans.

Dishes for Onasadya

  1. Jaggery chips
  2. Banana chips
  3. Ginger pickle
  4. Mango pickle (preferably kadumanga achar)
  5. Lemon pickle
  6. Inji puli / Puli inji
  7. Kichadi
  8. Olan
  9. Pachadi
  10. Kootucurry/Erissery
  11. Thoran
  12. Aviyal
  13. Rice
  14. Moongdal / Parippu curry
  15. Sambar
  16. Kumbalanga Pulissery / Mambazha Kalan
  17. Rasam
  18. Sambharam / Buttermilk
  19. Ada pradhaman
  20. Pal payasam

Sorry, as CheenaChatti webpage is in its initial days, the recipes for some of the dishes are not available.

How to serve sadya dishes?

The meal is traditionally served on a mat laid on the floor. The dishes has to be served on a tender banana leaf, laid with the end to the left side of the guest.

The main ingredient Rice is served only when the guests seat themselves. Only just two big spoons of rice is served initially. After this “parippu” and ghee is poured. Then comes Sambhar, Kalan (pulissery) and Rasam. The second round goes with 1 big spoon of rice and the desserts like adaprathaman ,Kadala Payasam, paal payasam etc. The third and final round of rice is served with Sambharam / Butter milk. That finishes serving the dishes. The guests are supposed to fold the leaves after finishing their lunch.

Happy Onam to all of our friends and hope you all will have a delicious Onasadhya 😉

Cover photo courtesy : Satheesh Thomas

This entry was written on August 24th, 2013 by . Posted in Food techniques and was last revised on January 3rd, 2016.

Author info

Jameela Beevi

  • February 28, 2016 at 3:31 pm

    Thank you . it is really help full to me.

    • March 3, 2016 at 8:09 pm

      @Fazil: Glad to know it was helpful for you 🙂

  • September 16, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    The order is wrong for some items. Please correct it.

    • September 16, 2013 at 2:42 pm

      @Lakshmi : it will be great if you let me know the wrongly placed ones and the correct position of those dishes.

    • September 17, 2013 at 12:04 pm

      The correct order is,
      10. Thoran
      11.Koottucurry/ Erissery
      Others are in right order.

    • September 17, 2013 at 3:46 pm

      @Lakshmi : thanks a lot. 😉

  • September 14, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    Keep the good work going…JB…Happy Onam…[email protected]

    • September 14, 2013 at 12:28 pm

      Thanks a lot Prasad. Wish you a blessed Onam 😉

  • September 10, 2013 at 5:12 pm

    This is really useful for me. Thanks a lot for this post


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