Onam is an integral part of cultural revelries unique to Kerala, a state located in South India, along the western coast. It is essentially a harvest festival, that is observed for an extended period of a fortnight, which falls between August 22 and September 2 this year. The tenth day of the festivities, known as “Thiruvonam” is rather significant for the Malayali community, heralded with much grandeur and fanfare.
This annual event falls in the Malayali month of Chingam, usually between August and September every year. It is widely believed by people across all regions of Kerala that during this auspicious time, the legendary ruler, King Mahabali, returns to the land and showers goodwill, for a flourishing agricultural bounty, for the population to live prosperously. King Mahabali is considered a symbol of peace, fortune, wealth, unity and positivity, as it was under his reign in ancient times, that the state of Kerala as a whole blossomed with natural bounty in the fields and cultural activities boomed.
Various colourful customary happenings take place over two weeks of Onam, such as entertaining boat races known as “Vallam Kali”, elaborate floral designs termed “Pookkalam” and of course, a lavish feast, truly fit for royalty, the famous “Onam Sadhya”.
And although Kerala may be well-known for its vast array of seafood delicacies, the onam sadhya is a wholesome, nourishing vegetarian meal. Coconut, jackfruit, yam, ash gourd, various lentils, Kerala rice form a major part of the feast besides few milk-based dishes. Moreover, in these days and times of COVID-19, it is important to consume healthy home-cooked meals with nutrient-dense ingredients, to augment our body's defence mechanism to shield us against microbial infections and other diseases.
So here, we bring you two time-tested, easy-to-make, immunity-boosting recipes as part of a typical onam sadhya - Muttaikose Thoran, which is a stir-fried cabbage with shredded coconut and Kumbalanga Olan, a comforting stew of ash gourd in a coconut milk base.
Needless to say, these plant-based dishes are abundant in all the essential nutrients of carbohydrates, fibers, proteins, healthy fats, apart from vitamins, minerals and detoxifying antioxidants. Also Read: 5 Essential Antioxidants To Add To Regular Diet For Enhanced Overall Health
So go ahead, prep these simple, appetizing vegan sadhya recipes for a happy, healthy Onam celebration with family.
1 small muttaikose (cabbage), finely shredded
1 cup grated coconut
3 pearl onions, cut into tiny bits
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 green chillies, slit vertically
1 tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp cumin powder
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
A bunch of curry leaves
Salt, as required
In a mixer, grind the grated coconut, along with onions, garlic, green chillies, turmeric powder and cumin powder, into a dry, coarse blend.
Take a non-stick pan, heat the oil on medium flame and put in the mustard seeds.
Once they begin to sputter, sprinkle the curry leaves and sauté for 2 minutes.
Now, transfer the shredded cabbage, adding some salt and cook for another 3 minutes.
Add the coarse flavoured coconut blend to the cabbage in the pan, with very little water.
Cover the pan with a lid and heat on low flame for 5 – 7 minutes, stirring the mixture occasionally.
Once the cabbage is completely cooked, turn off the stove and remove the lid from the pan.
Fresh hot, crispy and zesty muttaikose thoran is ready to be served as part of the elaborate onam sadhya meal, to be eaten along with sambar rice and kootu curry.
Cabbage is rich in vitamin K, for normal blood clotting processes and building bone strength. Coconut supplies healthy unsaturated fats, which keep cholesterol levels in check and promote heart functions. Packed with dietary fibers, pearl onions enhance digestion. Garlic is renowned for its vitamin B6, allicin antioxidant content, which eliminates harmful free radicals and lowers the risk of acquiring neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, dementia. Also Read: World Alzheimer’s Day: Try These Nutritious Smoothies To Enhance Brain Function
1 medium kumbalanga (ash gourd/white pumpkin), cut into chunks
5 tbsp cowpea beans/black-eyed pea, thoroughly cooked
2 cups coconut milk
2 tsp coconut oil
A sprig of curry leaves
2 green chillies, finely slit
A pinch of salt
In a large pan, heat coconut oil on medium flame and temper the curry leaves, green chillies.
Remove all the seeds and skin from the ash gourd chunks and transfer it to the pan.
Pour in the coconut milk, season with a bit of salt and let it simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the nicely boiled black-eyed peas and cook for a few more minutes, allowing all the flavours to blend in.
Switch off the flame and garnish with thinly cut curry leaves.
Warm and aromatic kumbalanga olan can be doled out in generous portions as a vital component of a wholesome onam sadhya and is best enjoyed with steamy hot rice and ghee.
Ash gourd is naturally low in calories, fats and high in vitamin C, zinc, making it an ideal veggie for weight loss, optimal metabolism and enriched skin. Comprising a wealth of nutrients including vitamin B9/folate and iron, besides ample carbs and saturated fats, coconut milk stimulates blood circulation and offers instant energy. Cowpeas or black-eyed peas are a storehouse of proteins, fibers, for the healthy growth of body organs, tissues, fortified muscles, besides curbing untimely cravings and regulating appetite.