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  • Onam Sadya (Sadhya)

    Posted on | September 7, 2011 | 30 Comments |

    Onam is Kerala’s largest festival celebrating the harvest season. There are many traditions associated with Onam, but the only one I am interested in is the one that involves food – the feast we call “Onam Sadya”. This scrumptious feast is an all vegetarian spread consisting of a spectrum of dishes meant to tickle all your taste buds – salty, spicy, sour and sweet. 

    An Onam Sadya is served on banana leaves with rice in the center (You have to have Rosematta rice for a proper sadya – ironically the picture above has white rice), a bunch of accompaniments served on the side and a few gravies served in courses over the rice. The meal ends with a generous serving of sweet payasamas. I don’t have all the dishes for a complete Onam Sadya in this blog, but I have enough to make up a pretty lavish spread. Here are the typical Onam dishes, I have linked the ones I have a recipe for and left the rest in Italics. I will try to post those sometime this year, just so that I have a complete sadya here. Let me know if I missed any dishes from this list.


    There is an order in which these are supposed to be served on the banana leaf, but I have no idea what it is!


    The mains are gravies served over the rice in courses, so there is an art of portion control here. Make sure to have small portions of rice with each gravy so that you won’t get full before you finish the whole round. You can always go back for seconds after getting through the round once.  The mains are served in this order:


    I normally get too full by the time I get to this stage. I think one payasam is all you need for a sadya, but the sweetaholics will probably disagree.

    Here is a visual guide, of the same dishes listed above with links to the recipes.

    AviyalCabbage Thoran

    carrot thoranErisseryInji Currykaalanmango pickleNellikka PickleOlanPachadiPavakka TheeyalPulisseriSambarSemiya Payasam

    And here is a picture of the mini-onam sadya I made last year.


    Wishing you all a joyous, prosperous and delicious Onam!

    Category: India - Kerala

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    30 Responses to “Onam Sadya (Sadhya)”

    1. Arch
      September 7th, 2011 @ 8:51 pm

      Beautiful, I love that Inji curry, looks so spicy…yum !!

      • Meghna
        September 8th, 2011 @ 6:40 pm

        mango pickle is yummy!!

    2. Leena Komaraaju
      September 7th, 2011 @ 10:07 pm


      Thanks for these truly irresistible pictures on onam food. I came across an equally marvelous write up on the occasion and the significance of the foods served for it which will complement these beautiful pictures of yours. Please do check out.

      • Hot choco fudge
        September 8th, 2011 @ 3:06 am

        Thanks Leena…it is interesting…can u please share some videos for cooking Onam foods as well?

      • Shakun
        September 8th, 2011 @ 3:20 am

        Food! So much food! Nothing makes Onam better ;)

      • angel krsna
        September 8th, 2011 @ 6:05 am

        First such an amazing blog to come across filled with the most vivid images of onam delicacies and then, a wonderful….wonderful page full of the most delightful information on the festival and its wealth of wonderful dishes! loved ‘em both!

    3. Happy Cook / Finla
      September 8th, 2011 @ 1:00 am

      What a feast for the eye and tummy. Me too am only intrested in the food side of onam :-)

    4. Shakun
      September 8th, 2011 @ 3:20 am

      Wow! Such appetizing pictures…my mouth is already watering :D . Food is definitely the best part of festivals.

    5. Sumer
      September 8th, 2011 @ 3:34 am

      Hey Leena, this is interesting………….the article is packed with lots of info……

    6. Sumer
      September 8th, 2011 @ 3:36 am

      Hey Leena, the article is packed with lots of info……I wud also love to see some pics if u cud share…….

    7. Meghna
      September 8th, 2011 @ 4:06 am

      Hi Leena, happy Onam to u and everyone else here. the article you shared has lots of info on Onam. Onam feast is really grand :) Even the significance of onam dishes is quite amusing. Thanks for sharing this.

    8. Laavanya
      September 8th, 2011 @ 5:47 am

      Awesome Awesome post!

    9. M Vincent
      September 9th, 2011 @ 1:12 am

      Great….But sambar is not a part of traditional Ona-sadhya……..

    10. BongMom
      September 9th, 2011 @ 5:39 am

      Happy Onam Sig, that is an amazing spread and you really celebrate it that gorgeous even here ?

      • sig
        September 11th, 2011 @ 4:02 pm

        I ignore Onam most years, it took me four years to finish all the dishes required for this round up :) . I think last year was the only time I ever made an entire Onam sadya on my own. We do a pot luck sadya once in a while.

    11. Seema
      September 9th, 2011 @ 8:10 am

      Happy Onam to you and your family too.

    12. jasmine joseph
      September 10th, 2011 @ 1:12 pm

      This is an amazing blog. I’ve posted it on my facebook page so all my Mallu friends can take a look at it as well. I really like and appreciate the pictures and the tips that you’ve added to the recipes. This is definitely wayy easier to follow than my mom directions (b/c she really doesn’t have any lol :) of making mallu food. So thank you so much!

    13. Miri
      September 10th, 2011 @ 9:50 pm

      Happy Onam Sig! That’s a lovely spread with some of my favourite dishes!

    14. crishna
      September 11th, 2011 @ 5:57 am

      pics ‘n words that tickle the palate
      thanks ‘n a happy yappy onam..

    15. Reena John
      September 13th, 2011 @ 5:49 am

      Very nicely done. Where did you find the banana leaf plate? :)

      • sig
        September 13th, 2011 @ 5:13 pm

        I think I got it from Joann, not sure though, it is really old.

        • Hema
          October 13th, 2011 @ 2:21 pm

          I am planning to buy banana leaf plate, could you please give me information about that store.
          Thanks a lot,

    16. Shri
      September 14th, 2011 @ 6:06 am

      It is interesting to see regional variations in the Onam recipes; the feast looks delicious. Have a melamine[?] banana-leaf plate too!

    17. vandana rajesh
      September 14th, 2011 @ 10:23 pm

      The Onam sadya on the traditional banana leaf ..what a spread Sig…a happy Onam to you and family.

    18. Hema
      October 13th, 2011 @ 2:15 pm

      Where did get those Banana leaf plate?

    19. sapthanaa
      November 23rd, 2011 @ 2:14 am

      Looks just yummy and wow..

    20. Jyothis John
      August 22nd, 2012 @ 11:58 pm

      The beauty of this festival is that it is celebrated across all religions, gender and age — be it Pookalam-making competition or cooking festive delights. Festivals like Onam serve as an occasion for get-togethers and great merriment.

    21. Baby
      August 30th, 2012 @ 2:10 am

      Thanks for the pictures.

      Hey Vincent,

      Sambhar is the part of traditional Onam sadhya.

    22. listas barcelona
      November 22nd, 2012 @ 11:50 am

      Nice post. I used to be checking continuously this weblog and I’m inspired! Extremely useful info particularly the remaining section :) I deal with such information a lot. I was looking for this particular info for a long time. Thank you and best of luck.

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