What is a festival without a feast? One of the highlights of Onam, if not the major one, is the grand feast on all four days of the harvest festival, especially on the day of Thiruvonam. The flavours of the sumptuous sadya, a traditional vegetarian spread, persuades many, even non-vegetarians who would not consider a meal to be complete without their daily meat, to relish the many curries, accompaniments and desserts that go into its making. We ask celebrities and stars of Mollywood, some of whom are forced to work even during the festival days, what is their pick of the many dishes of an Onasadya ...

Kunchacko Bobban

A self-confessed foodie

I am a non-vegetarian who needs my daily dose of meat. The only time I would go anywhere near a vegetarian meal is for the sadya that is served on Thiruvonam. This time, we are shooting near Kochi for Shafi’s 101 Weddings – one of the rare occasions when I get a chance to be in Kochi during Onam. My mother, Molly, and wife, Priya are excellent cooks! Rice with hot parrippu, ghee and pappadam is a great favourite of mine and I would be quite happy to have that all through the sadya. But by dinner, I am back to being a non-vegetarian, even on the day of Thiruvonam!

Mohanlal

Foodie, good cook, restaurateur, and owner of Mohanlal’s Taste Buds

Of all the dishes on the ela (plantain leaf on which a sadya is served) my favourite is inji curry. It is no laughing matter. It is not easy to make and one has to add the ingredients in the right proportion to get the right flavour.

Naushad

Chef, cookery show anchor, film producer and foodie

My favourite thing about the sadya is the inji curry (ginger curry). It’s always the first item on the sadya that you taste and one that sets off an explosion of flavours on your taste buds. I love it because it’s spicy, sour, bitter, and sweet, all rolled into one. Then there’s also the delectable, underlying tanginess of the ginger. I don’t have a special recipe for the inji curry but I always crush the ginger after finely dicing it and always add jaggery and tamarind. In fact, inji curry is one of my favourite accompaniments. I even eat it with biriyani!

Nivin Pauly

Actor

My favourite in the sadya line-up is the inji curry. It’s a great combination of flavours, sweet, spicy and sour. It makes a delectable combination with rice and sambar. It’s one of my favourite dishes from childhood that my mom makes. Actually, it’s a family favourite. Of course, I’m partial to payasams too – paalada pradhaman, to be specific. After all, who isn’t?

Baburaj

Actor, director, foodie

It is difficult to pick my favourite. Still, I would say sambar is always a centre of attraction. If sambar isn’t good enough, that really jars. Then of course, payasam is another favourite of mine, that too parippu payasam.

Gauthami Nair

Actor

It would probably be pachadi and kichadi. But I do love other dishes. Among payasams, I love paal payasam.

Samvrutha Sunil

Actor

I like the whole sadya concept. It would be quite unfair to pick just one dish. And my favourite in the list is payasam, that too paalada.

Raj Kalesh

TV anchor

My preferences vary from region to region. In Thiruvanathapuram, I like avial. Having tasted the Aramula sadya, I enjoy the varutha erusseri that is made there. Moving to Palakkad and Thrissur, I love puli inji. Up north, my favourite is kaalan. Kadala payasam is something else I am crazy about. The best one I’ve had till now was made by Raman Nair of Karukaputhur in Thrissur district. He made it for an Onam special episode for ‘Taste of Kerala’ on Amrita TV.

Ann Augustine

Actor and foodie

I like all the various tastes in a sadya. But my favourite is paal payasam, especially paalada!