Entnee: Onam sadya over the years

The once-conventional sadya now boasts an array of new elements. TNIE spoke to a few to get their thoughts on the matter.

Published: 26th August 2023 07:59 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th August 2023 08:13 AM   |  A+A-

Image used for representational purpose.

Express News Service

KOCHI: For Malayalis, wherever they may be, Thiruonam is only complete with a delectable sadya. Savouring multiple side dishes with rice and finishing it off with a sweet payasam on a banana leaf makes up an integral part of the quintessential Onam experience. However, as is the case with most things, this scrumptious spread, too, has undergone various changes over the years. The once-conventional sadya now boasts an array of new elements. 

TNIE spoke to a few to get their thoughts on the matter. While the crowd is split, what all agree heartily on is the fact that taste cannot be compromised. “In the UK, where I live, it is not always possible to get all the vegetables that make up your traditional Onam sadya, especially ash gourd and cucumber. This forces us to find substitutions. Zucchini for ash gourd and butternut squash for pumpkin. That said, I never compromise on taste,” says Keerthy Nair, an IT professional and popular food blogger.

Such makeovers are an alien idea to Vijayalekshmi Sarang. The former school teacher from Attappadi insists on following traditional recipes when preparing Onam sadya. Through her Instagram page, Dakshina, the 66-year-old has been popularising the traditional sadya to a generation of youngsters.

Her recent videos on inji thairu and elephant yam stem thoran enthralled many and gave a glimpse into the Onam dishes of yesteryears. In addition to homegrown recipes, the page also features troves of information on Onam’s cherished customs and culinary qualities.

“In a sadya, there should be four upperi and four thodukarikal. The dishes are part of our roots. We should preserve these naatturuchikal in the future, or they may fade from memory,” Vijayalekshmi says. She also reminisces how the ingredients for sadya were reaped from backyards in the olden days. “We didn’t go to markets like we do today,” she adds.

Arun Vijaykumar, the executive chef of Zam Zam Group, too, shares Vijaylekshmi’s sentiment. According to him, substituting the traditional ingredients of a sadya with another erodes its nutritional balance. “Sadya is a wholesome, balanced meal. While healthy substitutes are good, adding fancy elements will impair its balanced nature,” Arun says.

Zest up Onam with payasam cakes

One of the trending Onam fusion desserts this year is payasam cake, served in edible containers. However, Oh My Cake, an Ernakulam-based cake and dessert shop, has had this among its products as early as 2018. “Fusing a Western touch to the traditional dessert birthed the cakeuruli payasam. The other big hit is Palada Torte, a blend of palada payasam with French pastry cream, dry fruits, nuts and more,” says Bibin Jose, the general manager of Oh My Cake.

Thiruvananthapuram-based Cake Krafts by Saluja Riyas has introduced edible chocolate bowl palada payasam and Athapookkalam-themed cupcakes with fillings of palada payasam.

“Palada payasam has a friendly consistency to make this fusion edible container payasam cake possible. This is garnished with dry fruits and cashew nuts,” Saluja says.

For lovers of conventional sharkara-ada-pradhaman, the Zam Zam Bun Cafe in Thiruvananthapuram has introduced an ada pradhaman cake this year. This edible uruli container filled with cream-topped chocolate sponge cake is soaked with ada payasam.

(With inputs from Mahima Anna Jacob)

Satisfy your sweet tooth with 'Pookkalam'

What is Onam without pookkalam? Making the athappookkalam, with its intricate floral designs, is undoubtedly one of the exciting parts of the celebrations. What if you can eat them? Bringing the innovative concept of ‘edible pookkalam’ is Kochi native Sarah Zia Adeel, who runs the online store Fluff in a Cup. “I’ve been doing pull-apart cupcakes in various shapes for some time now. So, I decided to make pookkalam with cupcakes using the same concept. I’ve been doing edible pookkalam for two years now,” says Sarah. She is likely the first in India to introduce this concept. There have been several recreations since. Pookkalam cupcakes come with 13 cupcakes of varied flavours ranging from red velvet, salted caramel, Nutella, chocolate, and more. The flavours can be customised as per preference.

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