Monsoon in India is considered an auspicious season even if it brings waterlogged roads, mud and humidity with it. India is an agrarian country and in every culture of India, monsoon is welcomed as a season for harvesting.
Each state has it’s own way of celebrating the monsoon. While Teej, Rath yatra and Rakhi purnima is commemorated with vigor in North and Eastern parts of India, Southern India has it’s own flavor in rejoicing the rains.
It’s quite known fact that Kerala looks splendid during downpour with it’s freshly wet mountains, valleys and beaches.But along with these natural beauties, Kerala is also attracts hordes of travelers during Aug-Sept of year for the 10 days long Onam festival.
Onam is marked with music, shopping and dance, boat race, colorful parades and other cultural activities;that show the rich heritage of Kerala.
But for a foodie, the most charming part lies in the traditional, delectable foods that every devoted household in Kerala follows with fervor.The indispensable part of Onam is Sadya- an elaborate vegetarian feast that is served in banana leaf during the festival days.
1 Lady’s Finger Khichdi
A delicious curd-based vegetable curry made from Lady’s finger, it’s a must have dish during the Onam feast. Low on oil and fat, and high on nutrients; Lady’s finger can be replaced by bitter gourd if one wants.In the rest of the India, Khichdi is mainly cooked with rice or dalia, but to try out the southern unique version of khichdi, gorge on this dish.
Aviyal is a mixed vegetables recipe that involves grated coconut, curd, and curry leaves. Aviyal is light, tastes great and very high on nutrients. It’s an integral part of an Onam feast, and you can have it as a side dish with rice.
Who doesn’t love a potful of piping hot rasam? One of the most celebrated South Indianrecipes across the length and breadth of the country, Rasam is a curry dish that is essential in a three-course South Indian meal.Though the basic recipe of Rasam is same in south Indian states like Karnatak, Tamilnadu and Kerala- there are different additions in the basic preparation.In that respect, we can have pineapple rasam, mango rasam, Ginger rasam, poodu (garlic) rasam etc.If you happen to be in Kerala during Onam, then don’t’ forget to taste these wonderful varieties.
Unniyappam is sweet, fried Sadya recipe which is also a perfect evening snack in the rainy season, with a cup of steaming hot tea.It is an all-weather famous food of Kerala cooked in a special pan called Paniyaram Pan.
Made from jaggery, rice flour and ripe banana- Unniyappam’s beauty lies in its simplicity.There is a similar recipe in West Bengal, which is made from ripe banana and rice flour, and it’s called ‘ Kolar bora’ (banana fritter).
5 Kootu Curry
It’s a typical Kerala dish that contains three types of ingredients- chena (yam), kaya (raw banana or plantain) and chana daal (Bengal gram).No full-fledged Sadya meal is complete without kootu curry, and those who love their veggies, will find kootu curry irresistible, especially when served with hot rice or chapatti.
6 Parippu Thalichathu
Thanks to the popularity of Punjabi cuisine in India, everybody knows about daal fry.But who knows that Kerala also has it’s own daal fry recipe?Parippu Curry is Kerala-style daal fry where the ingredients are simple (basically toor daal), the method is simpler, but the taste will always linger on your tongue.Apart from being a part of Sadya feast, Parippu Thalichathu is great for a hearty yet modest meal that consists of – rice, ghee and papadam.
There are two types of Payasam that can be found in Kerala, especially during Onam. One is Pal Payasam, which is milk and sugar based, and another is sharkkara payasam- that is jiggery and coconut milk based.During Onam, various elements are added in the basic payasam recipe- like Semiya, Pineapple, rice, Gothambu (wheat) etc.Figure out what you like the most, and eat at your heart’s content; or taste little bit of each of them one by one.
Varatti has mainly two types- Sarkkhara Varatti ( jaggery coated banana chips) and Panchasara Varatti (cardamom-flavored sugar syrup coated banana chips).It’s a very popular dish, especially among kids. And if you are visiting Kerala during Onam, then don’t forget to bring some packets of Varatti along with you on the way of returning.
9 Pazham Nurukku
It’s as simple as it gets. Who ever imagined that boiling ripe banana with jaggerycould be an important offering in a festival?But Pazam Nurkku is just that. It looks very humble from the outside, but one bite into this sweet, ripe, boiled banana will again remind you this fact that – life’s great pleasures lie in simple things.
Kalan is a yogurt based curry that for many is the prime attraction of a Sadya meal.One can add different element in the thick, creamy mixture like- yam, raw green banana and plantain.As Sadya is a hard-core vegetarian feast, you can have it only with rice and other veg dishes.But if you love fish, then try Kalan in some non-veg eatery in Kerala, that serves it with rice and fish fry.
Onam festival not only brings joy, laughter and time of a life with family and friends, but it is also a great opportunity to dig deeper into the treasure chest called Kerala cuisine.