Onam Pookalam
Dad helping with vegetable cutting

The other day my Dad was talking to me how our ancestors moved from Tamil Nadu to Kerala and back to Tamil Nadu. Long time back my brother who had sent out his dna sample got the report our original ancestors moved from Africa making a long journey to South India.

Anyhow myself and my husband moved to the US 25 years back. Basically we are all nomads moving to different places in search of better life. Anyway we adapt the culture of that particular place and keep some of our culture. Food is one thing that has evolved.

The Festival of Onam is a harvest festival celebrated in Kerala with a feast called Onam Sadya. My Mom grew up there but our family who lived in Tamil Nadu though we trace our origin to Kerala never celebrated. Hey it was not a holiday for us.

This year when my Mom came her talks always revolved around her Grandmother (Aathamai) cooking. So I challenged my Mom or maybe requested her to make an ONAM Sadya for our family.

My husband has some idea about the food, that it involves lot of coconut and coconut oil otherwise the entire plate was new to him.

Every dish in the picture other than sambhar is made by Mom. All the recipes are her Grandma’s!

Here is the menu:


Paruppu (lentils) with ghee

Paladai pradhaman (rice pasta pudding)

Vellari Kichadi (cucumber raita)

Vazhakai eriseri (green plantain and cocnut curry)

Kaalan (plantain yogurt coconut curry) we needed elephant yams but couldn’t get it.

Oolan( pumpkin and black eyed bean with fresh coconut oil)

Cabbage Thoran (cabbage curry)

Aviyal (Mixed vegetables and coconut gravy)

Puli inji (green chilly and ginger in tamarind sauce)

Papadum (papads)

Chakka varuval (jackfruit chips)

Accharu (Lemon pickle)

I really wanted the spread on a banana leaf to authenticate the experience but we did not get that here, so two plates were filled with food.

So, how was the food. Yummy and delicious food and let me tell you this a dream for any diet person. One serving of carbohydrate rich rice was enough for the whole meal. My husband liked it and older one ate everything on the plate except the pickle. My younger one is not a fan of coconuts but he did find one item that he really enjoyed. I think even my Dad had his first experience of eating a whole Kerala meal cooked by his wife. I had tried some of the dishes from the internet before but nothing matched the authenticity of my Mom’s. So I did learn a few and would be implementing in my menu from now on.

My Dad wanted to keep a flower arrangement called pookalam one more feature of Onam and though we are having less flowers these days in our garden my Mom adjusted with leaves.

There is always a fight between people saying which cuisine or culture is best. I think your taste buds and your brain get used to one system and you get used to it. But trying out another cuisine and enjoying other culture is not wrong. Everything has their own uniqueness and that is what I learnt.

By the way thanks to my husband too who helped us with the dishes. You can imagine the sink situation when so much of cooking was involved.

the spread
All set on plate

13 responses to “Onam”

  1. Hi Uma, I am so impressed with all the different foods your family can make!! Did your Mom remember how to make all those recipes by heart? There must have been enough for two meals. My husband was Italian and all his Mother’s recipes were never written down. So Paul had to duplicate her recipes without any written recipes. Then he did write them down. Now our children have them. Also Paul helped his Mom cook many times so he knew how to make them himself. Now your children can make their Grandmother’s special recipes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Kim. Wonderful Paul was able to learn and teach his children. Something for their life.


  2. Seems yummy.Why didn’t Santhakka prepare sambar ? Her arachuvitta sambar is very tasty. Proud of you all that you enjoyed our Sadhya.Im proud to be a Malayali( just to irritate arhimbiar).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Very very interesting.👌

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A. K. Balasubeamanian Avatar
    A. K. Balasubeamanian

    Very very nice the dishes placed at the table. Able to understand the significance of Onam. Added pleasure to celebrate with parents. Your narration is also pleasing. My best wishes to whole family

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. Happy Onam! Nice write up!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Girija venkataraman Avatar
    Girija venkataraman

    Ona sadya suuuuuper

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I cook one curry dish and already I’m complaining about the dishes. Can’t imagine what the sink was like for this feast! Fats and oil are so hard to wash, especially when you have to care to make sure the sink doesn’t get clogged.

    Anyway, lovely food, and I’m loving the cooking pots too for some reason. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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