India is a land of diverse culture. With this diversity comes with lot of local traditions and each tradition has its own cuisine. It is the onset of festive season in India, which starts with Janmashthami (birth of Lord Krishna) and goes right up to Makar Sakranti in the month of January.
Onam is a traditional harvest festival of Kerala, a beautiful state in the southern part of India; known as “God’s Own Country”. Onam is a week-long festival that happens during the harvest time, typically around the month of September/August, depends upon the season. One of the most important element of Onam is the grand feast, which is also known as Onam Sadhya (in Malayalam). The word Sadhya actually means a Banquet. It is a traditional feast where lot of vegetarian dishes are served on a traditional banana leaf. Typically an Onam Sadhya has around 25 to 26 different dishes that are served.
The traditional method is to prepare these dishes at home where men and women both participate and they spend good 4-5 hours in preparing all of these dishes. However, over a period of time we have seen various restaurants who have started offering the Sadhya to people in urban towns. I happened to visit one such restaurant in the IT hub of Pune – Hinjewadi.
Kerala Cafe, Hinjewadi is a South Indian restaurant that serves variety of South Indian dishes, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. Kerala Cafe, Hinjewadi had organized the Onam Sadhya on the occasion of the festival on 11th September 2019. I had visited the restaurant in the afternoon along with my family and friends.
If you need to enjoy the feast, you need to imbibe the tradition of Kerala. It can be done by wearing the traditional “mundu”, a white cloth that comes with colourful borders or even a golden border. Being a South Indian, it was not that difficult for me to wear the mundu, even though I wear it only on such special occasions. We reached the place thirty minutes before time but it was crowded. After a long wait we did get a table and we were served with the Sadhya thali.
Every item in the Sadhya was prepared traditionally and one can smell the spices as you enter the restaurant. If you really want to enjoy the feast, use your hands instead of a spoon and fork; and trust me you can enjoy it when you have it with your hands. I had the best sambar and payasam (kheer/pudding). The payasam is a dessert that they serve in two varieties. There was one with coconut and jaggery and the other was with Vermicelli cooked in milk.
All-in-all, it was a truly breathtaking experience to have the sadhya and my request to everyone to have this during Onam. It is worth the experience and Kerala Cafe, Hinjewadi had delivered it to the expectation.
Wish you all a Happy Onam!