Onasadya, minus the sweat and toil

Production line: Cooks and helpers engrossed in the preparation of Onasadya at a catering unit in the city on Tuesday.

Production line: Cooks and helpers engrossed in the preparation of Onasadya at a catering unit in the city on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: S. Mahiinsha

Sangeetha Unnithan

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Hundreds of families across the city will have their Onasadya, the traditional Onam feast, supplied by catering houses and hotels on the occasion of Thiruvonam on Wednesday.

A container-packed Onasadya would have sounded scandalous a few years ago, but it has become a reality in many households, what with the hectic daily schedules that eat into the time spent on preparing an elaborate feast even on rare occasions.

The quick-fix solution of take-home Onasadya has come in handy for such families. With nearly 20 dishes, including two or more payasams and various side dishes, the spread offered by caterers and hoteliers is an easy temptation. All one has to do is pay the money and take home the food packed in plastic containers.

No wonder then that the catering units and hotels offering Onasadya on Thiruvonam are flooded with bookings.

“Personally speaking, I am not for ordering Onasadya from outside because it will not give the satisfaction of preparing it in one’s 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 a catering firm which delivers Onasadya kits for Thiruvonam.

A kit, priced around Rs.525, will contain a meal for five, packed in food-grade plastic containers. The kit comes in a big shopping bag, along with plantain leaves, to complete the picture of a traditional feast. “The basic preparation of these kits began six months ago right with the printing of the shopping bag. Then the special plastic containers were brought from Kannur. Two days ahead of Thiruvonam, we stopped taking orders and dedicated ourselves entirely to the preparation of Onasadya,” Mr. Anil Kumar said.

He said that since his unit started Onasadya catering five years ago, the number of customers had increased steadily every year. “I was a little apprehensive in the beginning about how people would receive the idea of a take-home Onasadya. Now I have a steady clientele and the number of orders has increased from 150 to 450, which means 2,500 meals,” he said.

Hotels in the city are not far behind in serving Onasadya. Almost all leading hotels and family restaurants started serving Onasadya a week before Thiruvonam. Some hotels do home delivery.

“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 Suresh Balaraman of a hotel.

The hotel had accepted bookings for Onasadya kits. “We had to close distributing coupons for sadya two days ago because we could not handle any more booking. Preparing the food is not an issue. But packing and delivering it is a big task and takes a lot of time,” Mr. Balaraman said.

“Earlier, only small organisations and offices were ordering Onasadya. But now, the idea has caught on. Today, our customers span a cross section of society from elite classes to middle-class families,” Mr. Balaraman said.

But what about Onam for the cooks and other employees who work day and night to prepare the feast for customers? “Our Onam actually begins after Thiruvonam. To take a break after all this hectic work, our establishment will remain shut for a few days after Thiruvonam,” Mr. Balaraman said.

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