ONAM SPECIAL !!! Sadya Vibhavangal…

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Onashamsagal…Happy Onam 🙂

Onam is a festival celebrated in Kerala during harvest season. It has a story behind it too. Since this is probably the only festival that most Keralites celebrate, I will briefly explain the story behind it and the celebrations and activities done during this season 🙂

Story telling time 😛 Long ago, there was a mythical King called Mahabali who ruled Kerala. This is considered the golden era of Kerala because during his rule, the subjects were very happy and joyful. The people felt very secure and there was not a lot of crime, supposedly! It is believed that King Mahabali visits his people every year to see how they are doing. So during the harvest period, post the autumn season, people celebrate the homecoming of King Mahabali and commemorate the Vamana avatar of Vishnu.

The festive time falls during Aug-Sep. During this time, children and ladies put Pookalam, a floral arrangement on the floor with various designs. When we were in school and colleges, we used to have Pookalam competitions. The team that puts the best design wins the title. It used to be so much fun during those times. We would go 5-6 hours before the competition. While some of us take out the petals of the flowers, getting the flowers ready for the pookalam, others draw the design on the floor and few others contribute by just cheering us up to bring out the spirit of Onam 😀 We have other activities very unique to Kerala that are held during this festive time. Vallamkali (Boat race), Pulikkali etc. are just couple of them.

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However, of all these things, the highlight of Onam for most of us is the Onasadya or the Onam Feast. Since this is the harvest season, there is an extravaganza of food during this time. Onam is celebrated for 10 days. It starts on Atham-First day and ends with a bang on Thiruvonam-Tenth day. On Thiruvonam, during lunch time, the onasadya is served on a banana leaf and there are about 15 items served for that meal. From region to region the dishes could vary and the numbers could differ too. There is a way that the banana leaf is placed and the way each dish holds a specific place on the leaf.

I have been wanting to put together a page which would give a good repository of all the items/dishes made during Onam. Enjoy this great season with great food, be cheerful and bond with your family, for that’s the spirit of Onam 🙂 Once again, Happy Onam to all !!!

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Olan(Cowpeas ‘N Pumpkin stew)

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Olan is one of those dishes that you should make when you absolutely want no spices or masala. It is a simple dish made with the most simple ingredients and yet is a wholesome dish. Another easy dish that has a definite spot in your Onam sadya leaf 🙂 I love the color of this dish. The color itself is an indication of the simplicity of this dish. Usually this is made using pumpkin, but you could use squash instead.

INGREDIENTS:
Note: Cup used for measurement is US measurement cup, 1 cup = 237 ml

Squash/Pumpkin – 100 gm/1 cup
Cowpeas – 1/2 cup
Green chilli – 3 nos, slit
Curry leaves – 1 sprig
Coconut milk – 5 tbsp
Coconut oil – 1 tbsp
Salt – to taste(approx. 1/4 tsp)

METHOD:

1. Soak cowpeas in water for 8 hours or overnight. Boil it using little salted water in a cooker(give about 5-6 whistles).
2. In a pan, put little water(approx. 1 cup), sliced squash/pumpkin, slit green chillies, curry leaves, coconut milk and salt. Boil these in medium flame.
3. Add the cowpeas when the pumpkin/squash is half cooked. Cook covered till the vegetable cooks through. Add water if needed.
4. Remove from heat and pour coconut oil and give a good mix.

Serve with rice!

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