Onam is a harvest festival celebrated in the South Indian state of Kerala every year, in the Malayali month of Chingam, that falls between August and September. According to ancient legend, people believe that the spirit of King Mahabali, under whose reign prosperity and peace thrived in the state, visits them during this propitious time and showers his blessings.
The festivities, spread over a fortnight, include boat races called vallam kali, intricate flower arrangements termed pookkalam and a sumptuous feast termed “Onam Sadhya”.
People celebrate preparing heaps of delightful food items, decorating the house with flowers, and participating in enthralling cultural activities. But of all these, the elaborate spread of wholesome vegetarian feast called the Onam Sadhya forms the key part of this festival. Traditionally around 26 or more delicious vegetarian dishes are made for Onam, which is served on large banana leaves. The dishes include upperi or banana chips, sharkara varatti, papadam, mango curry, naranga curry/pickle, puli inji, ellisheri, pulissery, kaalan, olan, pachadi, kichadi, kootu curry, sambar, avial, paarupu, ghee, buttermilk, rasam, boiled brown rice, morukachiythu, thoran, poovan pazham, ada pradhaman, and pal payasam.
To herald the vibrant occasion, we bring you three nutritious traditional recipes that abound in essential minerals and antioxidants, that are also delicious, for you to enjoy with family and friends.
1 cup soaked black chickpeas
¾ cup chopped yams
½ cup grated coconut
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp red chilli powder
¼ tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp jaggery powder
3 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 red chillis
10 - 12 curry leaves
1 tbsp pepper powder
In a pressure cooker, boil the black chickpeas on a medium flame for two whistles and set it aside in a bowl.
Next, pressure cooks the cut yam for ten minutes to soften it, making sure it does not get fully mashed.
Heat a large vessel on low flame, add the boiled black chickpeas, yams, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, cumin powder and some of the grated coconut with very little water and cook for a few minutes, into a curry.
Sauté the mustard seeds along with the rest of the grated coconut, curry leaves, red chillis and pepper powder in some coconut oil and fry until it turns reddish-brown in colour.
Add this spicy seasoning to the curry alongside the jaggery and remaining coconut oil, mix it completely and serve hot with rice.
Black chickpeas contain significant amounts of carbs and proteins for instant energy and muscle strength, as well as iron for preventing anaemia. Yams are rich in the B vitamins and vitamin C, for boosting nerve and immune function, besides providing fibers to aid in digestion. Curry leaves and black pepper supply vital minerals and antioxidants, to improve bone health and eliminate harmful toxins from the body.
4 medium-sized firm bananas
1 cup jaggery powder
1 cup of water
¾ cup of coconut oil
½ tsp cumin powder
½ tsp ginger powder
Peel the bananas and cut them into medium-thin slices.
Heat coconut oil in a pan, shallow fry the banana slices and set them aside in a bowl.
In a vessel, boil water and add the jaggery, stirring frequently to prevent lumps from forming until a syrupy consistency is obtained.
Dip the fried banana pieces into the jaggery syrup, coat each slice properly and season it with cumin powder and ginger powder.
Allow it to settle to room temperature and serve warm.
Bananas offer calories to fulfill the energy requirements of body cells, potassium to maintain electrolyte balance and vitamins B and C to augment the body’s metabolism and resistance. Jaggery and cumin are both abundant in iron, for healthy red blood cell synthesis as well as calcium and magnesium, for fortifying bones. Ginger contains gingerol, that confers beneficial anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, to all organs in the body.
Vellarikkai/ Cucumber Pachadi
1 cup finely chopped, cucumber
1 cup beaten yoghurt (curd)
2 chopped, green chilli
1/3 cup grated coconut
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 dry red chilies
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 spring curry leaves
Salt as required
Water as required
In a pan add chopped cucumber, green chilli, salt, and little water and cook well on a medium flame.
Now make the paste by grinding coconut, cumin seeds, mustard seeds into a fine paste.
Add the paste to the cooked cucumber and blend well. To this add curd and stir on a low flame for a few seconds and switch off the stove.
Take a frying pan heat coconut oil add mustard seeds, dry chillies and curry leaves, fry until the mustard seeds splutter. Pour over the prepared cucumber pachadi.
Cucumber contains potassium, magnesium, vitamin K and antioxidants that keep you hydrated and supports weight loss. While curd is a good source of probiotics, calcium and protein uplift gut health and bolsters immunity. Jeera, mustard seeds, coconut added in this adds flavour, taste and improves digestion.