Saturday, April 12, 2008

SADYA VIBHAVANGAL – Learn to make the traditional Kerala Feast- An Artist’s Edible Palette !

When someone asks me what I want to be, if there is a re-birth, for me the response comes quite spontaneously…….I don’t have to think twice to say that I should be able to sing, I should be able to paint beautifully and I should be able to write beautiful poems, capturing the serenity of nature, the beauty of chirping of birds, the sound of flowing water on river rocks…….and now I wish I could also write a poem about the traditional Kerala feast, Sadya! Isn't there something poetic , romantic and pleasant about those flavours and colours on that organic plate?

Almost one and half months back when I published this post, I wrote, “Sadya, in its pure visual sense, is an artists palette and as I had written in some of my previous posts, is a traditional vegetarian feast of Keralites and is very close to each and every Malayalee’s heart ……….. a nostalgia for some like us , who left home and homeland, soon after marriage because of one’s job demands, making it almost impossible to travel back miles together to attend a close-one’s marriage or cousin’s house-warming function or your sibling’s kid’s naming ceremony or first birthday ….we miss such homely get-togethers, followed by this grand feast, served on a banana leaf with rice and a myriad of vegetable side dishes cooked in ground coconut mixture, both fresh and roasted, and some cooked in buttermilk and curd, in various flavours, mildly spiced up curries, banana chips, spicy pickles, Payasam & Pradhaman and a fresh banana and Pappadam (Indian wafers)”.

From the responses I received for that post, I realized that there are many sailing in the same boat with me…..many who miss such huge feasts and family get-togethers. And the more and more I looked at the picture of the Sadya I prepared last year , I felt it’s not just an artist's palette, it’s an artist’s edible palette, perfectly balanced with flavors and colors at the same time…perfectly appealing to all the senses!

Those who have been following this blog probably would have got an idea about how much I love Sadya from my previous posts, especially when I wrote, “ I am embarrassed to write it down here, that there was an incident where everyone left the huge dining hall, next to the marriage–reception one, and the only two people left behind were yours truly and her friend and finally we were forced to stop feasting ourselves as we were asked to speed up because they had to set the table for the next batch of invitees!!!”. There is something captivating about that subtle smell coming off when the warm dishes touch the banana leaf....

Preparing the traditional feast and writing about it has always been an exhilarating experience for me. However, the only challenge was remembering all the right combinations and cooking methods and every time I had to call up my mother when the festive season approached. So recently I thought of compiling all my mother’s traditional recipes in one place and blogging about it was the ideal solution. Also I have been receiving key word searches like, “Onasadya”, “Vishu Sadya”, “Sadya special items”, "Onam Sadhya", "sadya-vattangal", "Kerala Sadhya recipes", “Sadya recipes” etc….perhaps a new bride out there was trying to whip up this huge spread….I don’t know……

Before I proceed, let me make it crystal clear that these recipes are our family recipes and though traditional Kerala dishes, there can be lots of variations in the ingredient list as well as the cooking method, due to the regional differences. Me being the princess daughter of Queen of Arabian Sea is only aware of the delicacies served in and around that place and not familiar with Sadya served in the southern or northern part of Kerala. Hence, please do not consider this post as an encyclopedia of all your Sadya needs and information related to the same. This post is purely based on my personal experience and I am not trying to make any generalization here. I wish I could talk to a Dhehannakkaaran/Sadya Chef, of the older generation, to collect more info on the real authenticity of Sadya but that does not look like even a probability for me, atleast in the near future!

If anyone is still wondering what this Sadya is all about, please have a look at the mini version I prepared last year:

This traditional vegetarian feast is served on a banana leaf, the organic plate as many would call it, and if it is a “thooshan ela”, narrow curved part of the banana leaf, it has to be placed before a person, so the narrow part of the leaf is on the left side. Check out the picture of “thooshan ela” below:

It is on the extreme left of the banana leaf that they start serving the crispy treats like Pappadam ,Pazham and upperis. Then it is the turn of pickles like manga achar, naranga achar and various “thodu-curry”, like puli inji, manga curry, pachadi and kichadi. After that ,biggies like Madhura curry, koottu curry, thoran, avial, olan, kaalan, erisseri, Mambazha Pulissery etc makes a grand entry. Infact, there is an order in which all these dishes are to be served which I am not very sure of. Once the side dishes are served, rice is served on the bottom half of the leaf with dishes like Parippu/lentil with a drop of ghee and Sambar, rasam etc. Depending on the weight of one’s wallet, there can be two to four types of Payasam/Pradhaman which constitute the dessert section and finally Kerala’s classic thirst quencher, Sambaram is served to settle down the expected heaviness after such a huge meal. In some of the other regions of Kerala, a sweet dessert called ‘Boli’ is also served as part of Sadya. In some places, along with the banana chips, some more crispy and fried items are served like, chena varuthathu/fried yam chips, chakka varuthathu/jackfruit chips, parippu vada, unniyappam etc.

I have read somewhere that decades back, at royal palaces and big Namboodiri Illams , 64 items were served at Sadya! Wonder how one could enjoy all the 64 dishes in one sitting!!! Wouldn’t they forget the taste of the first one by the time they reach the 64th one??? Anyway, these days the number of dishes is somewhere between 14 and 24 I guess……not sure though!

The ones listed below are some of the dishes my family prepares when we make the traditional spread. You can go to each of these dishes and recipes by clicking on the picture where I have explained the dishes and recipes in detail. Some of the pictures do not justify the real taste of the dishes; I will try to update the pictures later. For the time being, here‘s my mini Sadya for you :)

Idichakka Thoran Aval Payasam

No part of the content ( articles, photographs, recipes) of this blog may be reproduced without my written permission.Copyright © 2007-2010 All rights reserved.


  1. Shn, I m truly stumped!! Dishes galore, how beautifully the sadya has been arranged n the directions to all dishes made plain n simple! Hats off to you (amazing u put together so much in so little time!!) Wishing you and your near ones a Happy Vishu and merrier Sadya!!

  2. Ho,evideyayirunnu ithellam..Vishu special aanalle..adipoli!!
    Vishu aashamsakal to you! :)

  3. Oh Shn,it's a great comeback after the short comeup with all these variety sadya dishes....u re a true malayali....Really an inspiration for everyone to prepare sadya for vishu....especially for persons like me who prepare 'thattikkoottal sadya' with common dishes.....hehe...
    Really admire &enjoy ure "Vishukkainneettam"

  4. Wow !!!

    I got no words. This post really make me miss home.

    Happy Vishu.. :)

  5. Shn came here to wish you and family a very happy Vishu.I am stunned by what I saw here.You have put in so much effort to compile all this.Great work Shn.Have a great year ahead!

  6. All I can say is WOW! You have created a feast for you, and I can't wait to read each of these posts carefully and try out the recipes (one by one, not all at a time...I don't think I have sadya-making capabilities) :) Thank you for this wonderful resource you have created.

  7. Happy Vishu Shn.... lovely spread... All the dishes look great....

  8. Wonderful reference point to return to again and again. Wish u a happy Vishu!

  9. Wow!! I don't know what else to say.
    About Namboodiri illams- I have never seen 64 items together! That is incredible! I have to ask my mom and dad if they were a part of such sadyas growing up in super traditional illams.
    Your pradhaman looks so good, Shn.
    My hubby is going to take care of making it while I make the usual sadya fare.:-)

    Happy Vishu to you!

  10. Beautiful, Shn. The photos are eye-catching.

  11. Oh my God- this is absolutely fabulous Mishmash..Till I read this,I was not really sure if I must do the sadya tomorrow(in any form i.e) but after reading this I am all excited about doing atleast some of them..Wish you and your family a Happy Vishu and a lovely food n fun filled year ahead!!

  12. oh my god! what a come back with a big bang bash....Happy Vishu to you and your family....Lovley post...just lovely.....miss m y home badly....

  13. maybe next year i will stand on my feet and prepare everything you have here and call u over!!Vishu Ashamsakal to the daughter of Arabian sea.

  14. awesome posts..this is simply a wikipedia for a Sadhya...and am reading this in office and horribly struggling to stop the grumbling voices from my stomach..

    oh..i wish to have this right now!!

    vishu greetings btw... :-)

  15. I am totally flabbergasted here... What an amazing spread!! Talk about coming back with a bang! Wish you a very happy Vishu and I look forward to going through all of these recipes! :)

  16. One shot with all the sadhya specials, huh ? Happy Vishu ! :D

  17. Dear Shn

    Great to see you back in form... Lovely post and love the personal touch you add to every post of yours...
    The food looks amazing..

  18. How I wish I knew the magic of taking things out of my monitor and putting them on my dining table!
    Lovely spread!
    Vishu aashamsakal to both of you.

  19. wow Shn, you are back. Such a beautiful array of dishes and you posted so many of them in one day. Total WOW

    How was the move ? Are you settled in the new home ?

  20. Great comeback....the parippu and sambar are the recipes that I was looking for...

    hey a lot of effort has gone into all this....very commendable :D

  21. WOW....this is absolutely fabulous Mishmash....lovely post....Wish you and your family a Happy Vishu!!

  22. Wow what a sadya...and you call this a mini-sadya..?? the way you have described everything so well..kudos to you!!

  23. shn, wow!! amazing work.
    seeing these beatuiful pictures makes me feel more homesick and wish I was back in Kerala. Really miss the family gatherings, vacations at moms place, above all the onam sayda. Thank you for this treat.

  24. Hey Shn...
    Yest made sadya- used this encyclopeida for semiya paysam,kalan,avial,sambhar,rasam, mooru vellam only used mil's recipe for olan! So thanks a ton for posting..shall mention in my blog..

    bye for now..tks a ton!

  25. Hey Shn...gr8 job!!!! i was always amazed at the variety n taste of an authentic sadya. Thanks for sharing the recipes...the pics r awesome, n i'm sure the food will be too. Shall surely try them out sometime.
    Thanks...Happy Vishu !!!

  26. How on earth did i miss this post-a-thon! Really beautiful compilation of what all a sadya means! Such a splendid comeback post, dear!

    Honestly, i am too thrilled and excited for words!

    And belated Happy Vishu to you and your family.


  27. Hey, I hope you had a gr8 Vishu.... And thats a beautiful spreaad you put up last year

  28. what a treat to the tastebuds and the eyes!!! a real artist's palette. happy vishu to you.

  29. This is a most appealing and thoughtfully crafted feast, Shn. Thank you for sharing your traditions with us (esp, since I'm not familiar with them.)Wishing you and your lovely family a Happy Vishu.

  30. Only you would make a massive spread like you did last year and refer to it an mini! :)

    Hugs to you my friend.

  31. dear mishmash,

    this is just fantastic. not the cooking part, but the blogging part, taking so much pains to meticulously arranging the images, writing out each individual recipes and peppering them with your notes and comments ! this is the true spirit of a food connosseur. also, understanding the existence of regional variations in the recipes of these sadya dishes - for, most people tend to believe that the kind of food they grow up eating is the ultimate version !
    one doubt, are you from kochi ?

  32. Hey, you're back! All settled down? Enjoyed reading your post.

  33. Shn..
    Truly an amazing way to come back after the short hibernation...I must say I am stumped to see tht you found time to prepare the dishes and then blog about it too in between all the traveling & settling down frenzy..
    I didnt prepare any sadya for Vishu..for tht matter I dint prepare anything special at all... :( The last time I had a Sadya was for Onam...obviously accomplished with umpteen international calls :P :P Next time I prepare a Sadya ur blog is gng to be my encyclopedia. Belated Vishu aashamsakal to you!!!

  34. Hope you had a great Vishu, Shn. So how many dishes did you make??? Thats a question all my guests ask since hotels here serve atleast 25 dishes... they count the ela as 1, salt as 2, chips as 3, pappadam as 4...... u get the picture ?:)

  35. Wow! What a beautiful sadya. I dont know how I missed coming to your blog:)

  36. You have put in SO much effort and it shows! Truly! And like Mathew said.. it is indeed a wikipedia for a Sadhya!!

  37. This is so interesting to read Shn about Sadya, and eating all the 14 or 24 dishes will be a pleasure ...

    many kudos to you for writing the traditional fare of Kerala ..
    its always a pleasure reading about culture and customs..
    I will look into each post individually and will try out some
    hugs and smiles

  38. U r kidding me mishmash!.. its a treat to our sour hungry eyes... and my appeitite is stimulated with ur post!


  39. veedu marunneenidaikku ithu evidennu oppichu?.....
    you really got my stomach grumbling ...and my mouth watering.....
    where r u now?
    call when you are settled..

  40. Purnima, Thanks and great to know you tried some recipe for ur vishu sadya :)

    Seena, ethokke oruvidham oppichatha kuttee....aake thirakkayirunnu.....:)

    Lvi, thanks:)

    Liz, appo enikkulla vishu-kaineetam evide ?:D

    icitizen, thanks for dropping by...hope u get to go home fast:)

    Sumitha, yeah it involved lots of work, much more than what I anticipated.....but glad that I finished it :)

    Nupur, that was a lovely response...thank you :) hope you enjoy the sadya dishes :)

    Sandhya, thank you :)

    evolving tastes, its a reference point for me as well...thats one of the reasons why I created this, so I need not call up my mother for silly doubts :)

    Tbc,such sadyas used to takes place decades back i did u try the pradhaman,,,how did it turn out?

    Suganya, thank you :)

    Zo-ya, it was a great feeling to read that this post charged you up :) so how was sadya?

    Rashmi, thank you..thank you..:)

    Mallugirl, call me over after preparing your malabar fare....I will be the happiest :)

    Mathew, wikipedia ennonnum parayalle....pls..:) mishmash-o-pedia ennu parayunnathavum nallathu :)

    Kalai, thanks so much :)

    Pravs, hmm....:)

    Swati, thanks dear for your generous appreciation :)

    Injipennu, thanks :)

    RP, yeah...sometimes I wish for that magic too....teach if u learn any short cuts :D

    Sandeepa, move was ok...dint have much almost settled :) thanks dear :)

    Rachel, glad i could be of help and share those recipes with u :) yeah, it was a bit of effort :)

    Swapna,thanks a lot :)

    Divya, compared to our kalyana sadyas :)

    geena,yeah....i think all of us re in the same boat...lets row together :)

    jans,thank you so much and welcome here :)

    Musical, i was so happy to see the excitement in your words....what more can I ask for ? :)

    Ramya, it was ok ...i was tired after this post :)

    Bee, thank you :)

    Susan, glad you could take a culinary peek into our world :)

    Divya, thanks :)

    Cynthia, hhahhha... :)Hugs to u too, sweetie :)

    Renuramanath, yes I am :) and thanks a lot for the encouragement and appreciation :)

    Sra, yes...settled now :)

    Surya, at one point of time even i felt that i should not have resorted to such a thing as it was too much of work :)

    Jyothsna, yeah i understood...i have a friend who counts salt, water et al :) btw, busy aano..? not blogging at all these days....come back :)

    Shankari, its happend with me as well....sometime real life makes us ignore the virtual interactions.:)

    Macadamia, Mathew chumma parayunnatha.....athu support cheyyalle :)

    Jaya, a response like yours just makes the whole thing gratifying..thanks a ton :)

    Siri, :)))

    Nanditha, da...njan vilikkam...thirakkayirunnu.....really sorry :)


  41. i stumbled upon this page by mistake, but everything from the presentation to the narration is so interesting that i 've ended up using the sadya recipe as the guide to my onam sadya here at home :) the only problem i have here is getting some of the indian vegetables, but after a tedious shopping last night im all set to have a wonderful sadya today :)
    could u tell me what style of cooking is this, as in if this is the palakkad cuisine, or the kozhikode one, or trissur...

  42. i made injipuli just the way you mentioned in ur website...turned out great. Thank you so much.

  43. Hello! I came across this site while googling for recipes to prepare a sadya for soon as i saw the stunning pics i didnt bother looking any further! I think this is a fabulous attempt to encompass all the traditional sadya elements!! I usually dont get satisfying results when i try out recipes from the net..but your recipes are simply great! I got married recently...i was dreading the moment when my husband would come and tell me to prepare a sadya :D...and he did!! After having tried your recipes we are having a great sadya today and its all thanks to you! Keep up the good work...:)

  44. Came across this blog while looking for sadya recipes. Started reading your posting on sadya and forgot what I came for. There is a lot in your blogs which I could connect to : Being the last one in the sadya hall, the description of kanji-pidi by your father, the argument between the real you and blogger you.. Keep writing..

  45. Hello Shn, Iam relatively new to your blog...Mouthwatering recipes and awesome pictures..Kudos to you, yaar. Iam planning to make this Onam really special and sumptous with your recipes..Onam wishes to you in advance.

  46. Hello Shn, Iam relatively new to your blog...Mouthwatering recipes and awesome pictures..Kudos to you, yaar. Iam planning to make this Onam really special and sumptous with your recipes..Onam wishes to you in advance.

  47. Hi Shn,

    Its 'OnaSadhya' time once again! Wishing you and family a warm and happy Onam!


  48. Hi,

    Thanks for this comprehensive list of sadya items. This year my mom is in Kerala. So the option for my family was either go out or let me try out the sadya items. I have decided to take up the challenge only because of your blog. Also I really want to learn authentic kerala dishes, the traditional ones J. Your blog is helping me do that. Thanks for helping me connect to my roots.

    -Nandini (alias 'pirated mallu' as described by my hubby)

  49. While searching for sadya recipes, I stumbled upon your blog. wow I got all the recipes I was looking for nd more in one place..awesome effort..nd indeed grt blog.

  50. I stumbled upon ur blog while searching for sadya recipes. I tried almost all the dishes listed up here for the onam feast. It was a hit, I ain't a mallu, but the way the recipes are written, its pretty easy to follow it up. Except for the kaalan recipe, which i prepared with the kacha kela and yam I followed all your recipes, esp the puliinji recipe it was instant hit with everyone. could you please post up more recipes with kappa and theeyal

  51. Hi Shn!

    You made my day this year also! Onasadhya was too good (I am still receiving compliments from my friends) especially the Avial and Sambar and injipuli! (not that the other dishes were not good!)

    Same weekend we had another party (this time a non veg special) for the ones who didn't make it on Onam + an adv B'day treat.

    The compliments and praises belong to you! Once again thanks a lot for this awesome blog and ur recipes.

    keep blogging!
    Warm Regards,


    (initially posted this reply in my blog)

  52. really superb .....
    helped me out a lot....
    thanx a lotttt.....

  53. Hi Shn

    I am a regulare visitor to your blog and I really love the way you present your dish as well as the recipes.

  54. Your blog seems like an encyclopedia of Kerala recipes.. Well written, and presented.. Wondering how I missed your blog all these days.. when I saw your lemon cupcake recipe in Ria's blog I presumed that you are not an Indian.. how judgmental I am... whatsoever i love your blog and will keep checking your space often... Happy Cooking!!!

  55. hello shn,

    i have to say this-thanks so much for this post. you dont know how many times i've referred to it. thanks to you i've put together a few sadyas! and i'm not even from kerala!!!

  56. Good post; Happy Onam to you; you have a very detailed list of posts on Kerala... was checking on the order of the dishes served in an sadya and saw that it varies from place to place with a few exceptions. The exceptions seem to be the std position of the upperis and the pickles/relish... there seem to no one 'rule' on the kaalan, olan, avial, erisseri placings...:-)

  57. Hi Shn,

    First of all,A Big THANK YOU
    :-)!!!!!!!!!!! When i was searching for Kerala sadya items in the net..I never thot i would end up with such a GREAT Sadya..Its just amazing..the recipe, the presentation,And the fotos..Its jus wonderful...I m so happy, cos I did not know how to make most of the items, And after i got ur recipes I have made Almost everything for Last year and this year Vishu(And forgive me..This thank u note shud have come last yaear itself..I thot i wud do that..But did not happen..N I thot it will be unfair from my part if i dont do it this year atleast...cos ur efforts deserve it so much..)THanks once more..Have a Gerat day!!!:-)


  58. ONAM Sadya

    Navil kothiyoorunna onam sadya unnan keraleeya veshathil namellam orugugayayi (9th Sep 2011) orhe manasode. Ellavarkkum Onam Ashamsagal.

  59. Happy Onam .Its the first time I've prepared onasadya on my own
    following ur receipes .It came out very well .Thank you and good luck

  60. Hi there...
    This onam I wanted to surprise my hubby with a lovely bowl of payasam and was hunting for the recipe on the net. CAme across your blog and the entire spread looked so tempting (M a huge fan of the meal). I dared to make puli inji, cabbage thoran, beans thoran,aviyal, sambar(just like d way u hv described here) and I must tell you my hubby took 4 servings...I cant thank you enuf for this wonderful blog. Thank you.Happy Onam

  61. Hi there...
    This onam I wanted to surprise my hubby with a lovely bowl of payasam and was hunting for the recipe on the net. CAme across your blog and the entire spread looked so tempting (M a huge fan of the meal). I dared to make puli inji, cabbage thoran, beans thoran,aviyal, sambar(just like d way u hv described here) and I must tell you my hubby took 4 servings...I cant thank you enuf for this wonderful blog. Thank you.Happy Onam.

  62. Hi Shn,I made an Onasadya, this year(my first attempt), and I folowed your receipe for Kalan,Puliinchi,Koottucurry,Mampazhapulisseri and parippu payasam.I couldnt believe that I also can make vegetarian dishes so tasty.Thankyou so much. I could do it only because of your receipe. Even though by husband was teasing me when he saw me making all these with a paper(ur receipe printout) in my one hand, he realy appreciated me when he tasted the dishes.He said he had most tastier onasadya this year.Thanku so much

  63. Awww this is such a wonderful post! I love the recipes and foods, as well as the photos... They are perfect for this coming Onam festival. It's just few days away anyway... Happy Onam!


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