Kerala Sadya: A Must Try Culinary Wonder of Malayali Culture

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Anyone’s favorite part about festivals has to be, without a doubt, the amazing mouth-watering delicacies prepared and when it comes to the festivals of Kerala, the case is no different. Kerala or God’s Own Country is a state full of vibrant festivals with one of the most prominent being the state’s very own: Onam, a festival celebrated in the anticipation of the return of King Mahabali, a generous and benevolent king, to Kerala to visit his subjects. On this occasion, a special meal called ‘Sadya’ is prepared which consists of some delectable dishes that everyone absolutely must try out. Till you can, why not read about it and wake up your inner chef.

Kerala-Sadya
Image – Premshree Pillai/Flickr

Apart from Onam, sadya is also prepared on other joyous occasions such as weddings. Sadya, being a traditional meal, is eaten in the same regard. Served on banana leaves (of course, after all: it’s Kerala), people eat this meal sitting down on a mat and without the use of cutlery. The state of Kerala has always been one that has achieved the perfect balance between science and ancient culture. Eating with our hands is said to help in the alignment of chakras as well as the banana leaf is rich in polyphenols, an antioxidant beneficial for nutrition.

This meal consists of 25 dishes, a truly enormous amount but the reason behind this is said to be to make sure that the person consuming the meal of sadya enjoys at least 3-4 of the dishes. Putting in an unbelievable amount of effort to ensure people’s happiness sounds exactly like the warm people of Kerala. The meal is, additionally, a great representation of the Kerala cuisine, one of the various things that stands out about this state. Sadya consists of rice, fried snacks, pickles, curries, and sweets because no meal is complete without a dessert. The meal is purely vegetarian and reflects the flavors of the state. After all, spices are Kerala’s specialty.

The Dishes of Sadya

The Dishes of Sadya
Image – Ramesh NG/Flickr

Sadya is typically a 9-course meal, with each being truly enriching. It also occasionally has a feature dish that is made using rice, yogurt, or coconut. The dishes start with salt, the features, rice and ending with the ever-delicious payasam. You begin with upperi or as commonly called, banana chips. Everyone’s heard of banana chips but what about sweet banana chips? Shocked? Well this next dish, sharkara varatti is exactly that. Made using jaggery, this is a dish that is a must-try. On the side, you will get a delicious manga curry, to get in some tanginess. Not a fan of mango pickle? Sadya’s got you covered for you will also get a naranga curry for everyone who likes the taste of the sour lemon with your meal.

Now we come on to the dishes. A prominent one has to be ellisheri, made using coconut and pumpkin which will leave you wanting more. Another similar dish is pulissery which is made from vegetables and yogurt. Then comes one of everyone’s favorites, kaalan, a dish made from the nutritious raw banana. You can’t fully enjoy sadhya without trying out the pachadi curry, with its primary ingredient being bitter gourd. Chenna Mezhkkupuratti is unbelievably delicious for it’s the classic fried yam with spices and coconut.

It’s a fairly known fact that no meal in Kerala is complete without rice. However, in Sadya, you are provided chor, a version of rice with thicker grains, and of course, an integral part of South Indian Cuisine is sambar. If you don’t try out the pappadams, then you have no idea what you are missing out on. Other flavor-rich dishes include rasam, avial, and payasam. On top of all these dishes, you need to add just a spoonful of neyy or as more commonly known as ghee.

Kerala-Sadya-03
Image – Wikimedia

Then coming on to the desert, my personal favorite, we have the staple of Kerala, the amazing payasam along with poovan pazham, similar to a mini banana which is highly recommended to take with payasam. Other mouth-watering delicacies include Palada Pradhaman is made from rice, dry fruits, and milk as well as Pazham Pradhaman, a dish whose primary ingredient is jaggery and cashew which will leave you wanting more.

Sadya is not a mere meal but a celebration of the auspicious festival and the meal is an extended symbolization of the same. Anyone ever visiting Kerala simply must try it out. It’s a feast in every sense of the word and practically synonymous with Onam. Its flavors are spectacular and you can taste the essence of Kerala’s cuisine. So, let’s celebrate the next Onam with the delicious sadya.

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