Being far away from home during festival time leads to all kinds of emotions – nostalgia, wistfulness, a melancholy questioning of one’s life choices perhaps. If you can’t celebrate it with your entire extended family back home, you can surely throw together a good old sadya for your friends.
Scary thought? Need not be. Allow us to help you put together a doable, minimalist sadya. As the saying goes, “Ullathukondu Onam poley” – you celebrate as you can, with what you have.
There are three things that can elevate any homely meal into a sadya – banana leaves to serve that meal on, plenty of freshly fried pappadoms and a stellar payasam. Living in a part of the world where meeting Iron Man is easier than finding banana leaves? Well ok, if you have the pappadoms and payasam, then this one can be excused.
So, let’s start with the easiest ones. Pickle – buy a jar of your favourite one and you’re sorted. If you can find a packet of banana chips as well, that’s a bonus. Pappadoms – grab a packet and make sure you have enough oil to fry them in. Next, semiya payasam is pretty simple to whip up and is quite the crowd pleaser. And what’s more, the task has been made easier now, because you get pre-mixed, ready-to-cook packets.
Moving on, here’s another simple one – the parippu curry – some staples from the kitchen will this covered. While that cooks away, you could throw in a few veggies and dal together and have a sambar going as well.
Of course, there has to be at least one dry item to sit on the side. How about the staple cabbage thoran? If you aren’t a fan of cabbage, try beans. Equally easy. There’s a lot of other dishes that go into a sadya usually – the olan, kaalan, pachadi, kichadi variety. If you are a fan of any of those and can’t imagine a sadya without it, go ahead by all means. But for our minimalist version, we say skip them all. Substitute kaalan and pulissery with curd or buttermilk and you’re sorted.
Bon appetit and Happy Onam!