‘Sadya’ comes home in different ways

Liffy Thomas

Chennai: A meal with over 20 accompaniments, served on a plantain leaf with a mix of all known tastes from sweet to bitter to tangy. It’s Onam and the culinary spread that makes up the feast cannot get better than what the festival offers. But who has the time to prepare the elaborate meal in today’s fast-paced life?

Take, for instance, the case of the Vijayans, residing in Besant Nagar. For the last two years, the family has the ‘sadya’ delivered to their home. “The Onam sadya is traditionally meant to be prepared at home, but it is an arduous task preparing different dishes,” says N. Vijayan, a resident of Chennai for over three decades.

Hotels and restaurants, which generally avoid takeaway service, especially on Thiruvonam as it involves time and labour packing different items when they have to attend to the milling crowd at their restaurants, seem to be evolving to keep pace with the changing likes of people.

Ente Keralam, for the first time, has introduced takeaway service, provided one places an order for more than 10 sadhas. “Takeaway service offers the convenience of having food where customs require that women serve the meal,” says Chef Regi Mathew of Oriental Group.

Nandanam (formerly Tharavad) restaurant in Besant Nagar has already received over 200 takeaway orders for the Thiruvonam lunch. “Even if one is placing an order with a request for some items, we are ready to cater,” says Robin Verghese, who runs the joint. Other joints such as Kumarakom, Kairali and Kalpaka are offering a choice of payasam as takeaway. However, many Keralities have taken to recreating the Onam flavours by organising “potluck.” Like last year, the Pillais will join four other Kerala families at a relative’s place in Alwarpet to savour the sadya. Each of the household will prepare four to five dishes to recreate the festivities.

“Restaurants are crowded on Onam day and are in a hurry to send us off so the best that nuclear families like us do is come together with our cuisine preparation,” says Manoj Pillai, a resident of Anna Nagar.

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