The nitty gritties of tradition

Onam is almost here. Here’s how to bring on that traditional touch to your Onam sadya, right at home

Published - August 17, 2012 07:40 pm IST - Kochi:

The pickles can be prepared three days prior to Thiruvonam

The pickles can be prepared three days prior to Thiruvonam

The vegetarian sadya is a common enough occurrence everywhere, but for Onam, more than the curries, the traditional add ons, the accompaniments and appetisers on the banana leaf are what makes the Onam sadya different, that is apart from the pinch of salt, banana and pappad.

Here are the how-to notes for all the rest … The pickles can be prepared three days prior to Thiruvonam, the chips on the previous eve , barring yam chips which are made on the very same day.

Aayiram Curry or Injithairu

Combine finely chopped ginger, green chillies with salt. Add sour, beaten curd. Serve fresh, immediately.

Parippu/ Ghee

Cook lightly roasted moong dal / cherupayarparippeuntil mashed with turmeric curry leaves and salt. Add a dollop of ghee. Stir well. Serve hot as the first curry to accompany the rice.

For a Trivandrum / South Kerala version, grind grated coconut, cumin seeds and green chillies and add this paste to the moong dal mixture . Bring to a boil and remove from heat.

Mango Pickle

Chop raw mango into small pieces. Add turmeric, Kashmiri red chilli powder, salt, asafoetida. If you like a saucy version, you can add half cup of boiled and cooled water. Keep aside. In a wok, heat a spoonful of coconut oil and half tbsp. gingelly oil. Add mustard seeds. Once these crackle, add fenugreek, sauté till it gets golden brown. Now, add whole dried red chillies and a sprig of curry leaves. Tip in the mango pieces. Finally, a pinch of asafoetida. Stir. Heat until warmed and when it starts to froth up. Allow to cool .Store in airtight bottles, with a small layer of gingelly oil on top, ideally three days prior to Thiruvonam.

The pickles will not spoil if preserved in a bottle sterilized with hot water.

Pickles should not be bottled when hot or warm as moisture content tends to spoil the pickles.

Lime Pickle

Take two (big-sized) Vadukapuli limons. Wash and slice the lime. In a bowl, add 3-4 tbsp salt to the pieces and mix well. Keep covered for one hour or overnight. In a wok, heat a quarter cup refined oil. Pop in two tbsp mustard seeds, when these crackle, add 1 tsp fenugreek seeds.

Add 5 -6 dried red chillies, 5 chopped (small) green chillies, 1 tbsp julienned ginger and a handful of curry leaves. Lower the flame and add 5-8 tbsp red chilli powder. Stir and add the lemon pieces as the chilli powder must not change colour. Add 1 tsp fenugreek powder, 2 small tsp asafoetida. While still hot, stir in 2 tbsp gingelly oil. Cook for 10 - 15 minutes. Stir in 1 tbsp sugar. Remove from heat when it has thickened to a gravy. Cool and preserve in airtight bottles.

Puli inji

Mince 100 gms each of ginger and green chillies. Saute in 3/4 cup coconut/refined oil, along with a dessertspoonful of gingell oil , a handful of curry leaves on medium - high flame for 20 minutes, or until a fine aroma comes. Simultaneously, take the liquid pulp of an orange – sized preserved tamarind. In a saucepan, put the tamarind liquid along with 4-6 cups water . Boil for 30 minutes until it thickens. Add 1 tbsp turmeric powder, 1 1/2 tbsp red chilli powder, 1 small tsp fenugreek powder, a handful of curry leaves and salt. Add the sauteed ginger-greenchilli, 2 tbsp roasted and crushed black sesame seeds to the tamarind solution and reduce the mixture further for 10 minutes. Meanwhile , in the hot oil, add mustard seeds. When these pop, add 2 long, dried red chillies and finish with curry leaves. Add this seasoning to the tamarind solution and pour a quarter cup jaggery syrup or as per taste. Cool and pour into airtight bottles.

Naalu varutha plantain chips

Take four raw plantains. Peel the outer skin and quarter lengthwise. As you slice horizontally, drop the pieces into a bowl of turmeric-infused water. Drain in a colander. Heat 2-3 cups coconut oil in a wok/ pan. Add the plantain pieces and fry over medium heat. When these are halfway through, pour a salt solution (1 tbsp salt in 1/4 cup water), a little at a time from one side of the wok, after minimising the heat. It will bubble forth. After the bubbles simmer down, give it a stir. Deep fry till a jingling sound is heard. Transfer the light golden chips onto a tissue paper lined colander. Serve crisp for sadya. Store in airtight containers

Sharkara varattiyathu

Take 1 kg. raw plantains. De-skin and drop in turmeric water. Drain. Slice lengthwise and in slightly thick horizontal chunks. Heat coconut oil in a wok . Fry. When slightly crisp, add saline solution, lowering the flame. Deep-fry in hot coconut oil, keeping the flame at minimum, until the foaming ceases and subsides, slight golden, yet not too roasted/ browned as for the plain , regular chips. Melt three quarter kg jaggery in half cup water. Filter using a metal strainer.

Bring it to a 1-1/2 string consistency. Tip in 2 tbsp chukku / dried ginger powder, 1 tbsp crushed cardamom . Now, add the plantain chunks. Over a low flame, stir well until the whole mixture has an even jaggery coating. Turn off the heat. Set aside for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the chips are separate pieces, sprinkle some sugar. Store in airtight containers.

Yam Chips

For deep-fried yam chips, clean 2 cups yam pieces(chena). Finely dice the yam and soak in a bowl of water , add 1 tbsp turmeric. Scoop the yam and leave in a colander to dry as you heat 2 cups coconut/ refined oil in a wok. Transfer the yam. Cook over a medium-high flame for half an hour.Make a salt solution, adding 1 tbsp salt to 1/2 cup water. Lowering the flame,pour the salt solution into the oil carefully . After another 20 minutes, when it becomes crisp, golden brown , transfer the yam with a perforated ladle.

Grandma's recipe for pure, homemade Ghee

First, the fresh cream on top of boiled and cooled cow's milk is sieved and collected everyday. This cream is stored in a lidded container in the freezer. When the quantity of cream is sufficient, a couple of spoonfuls of curd is added and this is kept outside overnight.

The next day, take the curd-like mixture and blend it in the mixie. Remove the soft white butter from the buttermilk. Wash the butter in ice-cold water many times to have clear water remaining in place of buttermilk. [Bottle the buttermilk and keep aside.]

In a wok, melt the butter and let this boil until a fragrance emanates Stir occasionally. The boiling bubbles will transform into an even froth. .There will be a dark residue underneath the wok. Place a clean cloth over a vessel and sieve the ghee into it by pouring in spoonfuls at a time.(Use a deep, round spoon).Gently press the cloth bundle to extract the remaining ghee.Let the ghee cool.

Place a clean, dry newspaper on top as a lid. Once cool, transfer the ghee into a clean, dry, airtight bottle. Store at room temperature.

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