This would have sounded scandalous a few years back, but hotel-made, container-packed Onasadhyas (Onam feast) have become a reality in many households in the city today.
Gone are the days when the womenfolk of the family used to assemble in the kitchen dishing out Onavibhavams (Onam dishes) one after the other. When life is hectic and holidays are rare luxuries, where is the perseverance to spend the whole day in the kitchen preparing an elaborate sadhya.
That’s when the quick-fix solution of ready made take-home Onasadhya comes in handy. With around 20 dishes, including two or more payasams and various koottukari’s, the sumptuous spread of Onasadhya offered by caterers and hoteliers is indeed an easy temptation. All you have to do is pay the money and take home the sadhya neatly packed in plastic containers.
No wonder then that the catering units and hotels offering Onasadhya on Thiruvonam are flooded with bookings.
``Personally speaking I am not for ordering Onasadhya from outside because it won’t give the satisfaction of preparing sadhya in your own home. But the problem now is that, in nuclear families it is very difficult for one person alone to make such an elaborate meal for four or five people in a small kitchen,’’ said Anil Kumar proprietor of Akshaya Catering which delivers Onasadhya kits for Thiruvonam day.
A typical sadhya kit, pricing around Rs 525, would contain a sumptuous meal for five packed in food grade plastic containers. The whole sadhya is given out in a big-shopper along with banana leaves to complete the picture of a traditional sadhya. .
``The basic preparation of these ktis begin six months back right with the printing of big-shopper. Then the special plastic containers are brought from Kannur. Two days ahead of Thiruvonam we stop taking any other order and dedicate ourselves entirely in the preparation of Onasadhya,’’ Mr Anil Kumar said.
He said that since his unit started Onasadhya catering five years back there has been a steady increase in number of customers every year. ``I was a little apprehensive in the beginning about how people would receive the idea of take-home Onasadhya. Now I have a steady clientele and number of orders has increased from 150 to 450, which means 2500 meals,’’ Mr Anil Kumar said.
Hotels in the city are also not far behind in serving Onasadhya to customers. Almost all leading hotels and family restaurants in the city had started serving special Onasadhyas a week before Thiruvonam. Some hotels are also delivering take-home sadhya kits like the caterers.
``Last year our restaurants were overflowing with customers. So I did it quietly without giving any advertisement but still we are flooded with customers,’’ said Mr Suresh Balaraman of Ananthalakshmi Hotel.
The hotel, a sister concern of Anandam Home Caterers, is also offering Onasadhya kits for Thiruvonam day on pre-booking basis.
``We had to close distributing coupons for sadhya two days back because we could not handle any more booking. As even the regular daily meals served in our hotel comes from our catering kitchen preparing the meals is not an issue. But packing them and delivering it on time is a big task and takes a lot of time,’’ Mr Balaraman said.
He said that they originally began Onasadhya catering in a small scale with deliveries for small organisations and offices. ``Later our friends and acquaintances started requesting us to deliver sadhyas for their families. That is how the concept of Onasadhya kit came up. Now we have a huge cross section of customers from minister to common people,’’ Mr Balaraman said.
But what about the Onam for all the cooks who are working day and night preparing this sumptuous feast for you.
``Our Onam actually begins after Thiruvonam. To take a break after all this hectic work we will remain shut for a few days afterThiruvonam,’’ Mr Balaraman said.