Top 10 Dishes For Onam Sadhya

Every year, millions of Keralites worldwide eagerly await the yearly visit of King Mahabali during the harvest festival called Onam. The festival of Onam is celebrated with tremendous gusto in the Indian state of Kerala. Families come together during the days of Onam to partake in a grand feast known as the Onam Sadhya or Onasadhya. This particular feast or Sadhya stands apart from all other meals, primarily as it is a magnificent banquet made up of several delicious vegetarian dishes, all served on a simple banana leaf. The Onam Sadhya is a wondrous sight to behold! Even if you are not a die-hard vegan, this Onam, you are sure to fall in love with the different vegetarian delicacies and dishes that make up the top 10 dishes for Onam Sadhya.  

Onam Sadhya: A Feast Fit For The Gods

The Onam Sadhya or Onasadhya is an integral part of the Onam celebrations. The scrumptious spread of the Onam Sadhya is the highlight of this harvest festival, as these dishes are made from farm-fresh vegetables. The top 10 dishes for Onam Sadhya include several drool-worthy savory dishes like sambar, Avial, Olan, Kootu curry, Pachadi, Pulissery, Puli Inji, Thoran, Kaalan, and plenty more. One of the unforgettable items on the Onam Sadhya menu is the delectable sweet dish called payasam. On Onam, everyone eagerly awaits this delightful dish served at the end of the sumptuous Onam Sadhya.  

Let’s take a look at the “adipoli” dishes that are typically served during a traditional Onam Sadhya:

1. Sambar

If you take a look at any Onam Sadhya curry list, you will notice that it is the sambar that tops it every single time. The wholesome sambar contains the power to elevate the Onam Sadhya to the next level!


  • 1 cup toor dal (Arhar or split pigeon pea)
  • 1 large tomato – chopped
  • A pinch of hing (asafoetida)
  • 10 shallots – peeled
  • 2 carrots – chopped
  • 2 drumsticks – cut into 2 to 3-inch pieces
  • 8 ladyfingers/okra – cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 sprigs of curry leaves
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 tbsp sambar powder
  • ½ cup tamarind pulp
  • 3 cups water
  • Salt as required

For Tempering (Tadka)

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp urad dal
  • 3 dry red Kashmiri chilies
  • 1 sprig of curry leaves

For Garnish

  • Coriander leaves – chopped


  • Cook the Toor dal in a pressure cooker along with the shallots, tomatoes, and Hing. Remember to mash the dal with a spoon or a potato masher after it is well cooked.
  • Then, add the chopped vegetables (except the okra), along with water and salt, to the dal and cook till the vegetables are half done.
  • Add the okra and tamarind pulp with 2 tbsp sambar powder, and boil for a few minutes. For added flavor, fry the okra with a little bit of sambar powder before adding it to the rest of the vegetables.
  • In another pan, heat the coconut oil and add the mustard seeds. Once it pops/splutters, add urad dal, red chilies, and one sprig of curry leaves.
  • Pour this tempered mix over the cooked vegetables and cover the lid of the pressure cooker for ten minutes. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves. 

The star of the Onam Sadhya, the sambar, is now ready to be served with the other Onam Sadhya dishes! Serve it hot on Onam, and begin the Onam Sadhya in style!

2. Avial

Top 10 Onam Sadhya Avial
Top 10 Onam Sadhya

Due to its vibrant colors, Avial/aviyal is a dish that stands apart from all the other dishes served on the Onam Sadhya banana leaf. Made from a bunch of different vegetables, all easily available during the Onam season, this classic Onam dish has a remarkable flavor, making this a favorite item for many on Onam day.


  • 1 cup chopped ash gourd
  • 1 cup chopped drumsticks
  • 1 cup chopped pumpkin
  • 1 cup chopped elephant foot yam
  • 1 cup chopped yellow cucumber
  • ½ cup chopped french beans
  • 1 cup chopped plantain
  • 1 cup fresh grated coconut
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 3 green chilies
  • 1 cup curd, beaten
  • 3-4 sprigs of curry leaves
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil


  • Grind together the grated coconut, cumin seeds, a sprig or two of curry leaves, and green chilies with a little water to make a coarse paste. Keep this aside.
  • Cook the chopped vegetables with a little bit of water in a large thick-bottom utensil. Add the vegetables according to their required cooking times, with the ones that need the most cooking time, like yam, going first into the pan. Let this simmer. 
  • Add turmeric powder, curry leaves, and salt to the pan. Add water if necessary. Ensure that the vegetables are not overcooked; the vegetables should be soft and must not be mashed.
  • After the vegetables are cooked, add the ground coconut paste and mix gently.
  • Allow it to simmer for five minutes.
  • Add the beaten curd and let it simmer for a minute before turning the flame off.    
  • Add coconut oil and cover the lid for five minutes before serving. Garnish with a sprig of curry leaves.

This traditional Onam Sadhya dish, which is believed to have been invented by Bhima of the Pandavs, is now ready to be served!  

3. Olan

Top 10 Onam Sadhya Olan
Top 10 Onam Sadhya Olan
Pic Courtesy: Kannama Cooks

If you are making Onam Sadhya at home, do not forget the humble Olan. This simple stew-like vegetable dish is easy to make and is light on the tummy. It is one of the easiest dishes you can prepare for an Onam Sadhya.


  • ⅓ cup cowpeas – soaked overnight
  • salt
  • 2 cups chopped ash gourd
  • 8 curry leaves
  • 4 green chilies – slit
  • 1 cup thick coconut milk
  • 14 curry leaves
  • 3 teaspoons coconut oil


  • Cook the soaked cowpeas in a pressure cooker with salt and water till they are tender. Keep this aside.
  • Add chopped ash gourd, 7 curry leaves, green chilies, salt, and water or coconut milk to a pan and keep it on medium flame till it is cooked.
  • Add the cooked cowpeas to the ash gourd, followed by thick coconut milk. Mix this well while on low flame for five minutes. Ensure this does not simmer for too long.
  • Turn off the flame after adding the remaining curry leaves and 2 tsp of coconut oil.
  • Mix well and cover for a few minutes before serving.

This flavorsome Onam side dish will be a hit during the Onam Sadhya!

4. Kootu Curry

Top 10 Onam Sadhya Kootu Curry
Top 10 Onam Sadhya Kootu Curry
Pic Courtesy:

Kootu curry is one of the best dishes in Onam Sadhya. It is a spicy, thick curry-like dish that is made with black chickpeas and a few vegetables. It is a staple item found in most Sadhyas in Kerala and is a clear favorite during Onam.


  • ⅓ cup black chana – soaked overnight
  • 1 cup plantain
  • 1 cup elephant foot yam
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper powder
  • Salt – as per taste
  • 1 teaspoon jaggery
  • 1 cup grated coconut
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1-2 dry red chilies

For Tempering (Tadka)

  • 2 dry red chilies
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon urad dal
  • 2-3 sprigs of curry leaves


  • Cook the soaked black chana in a pressure cooker with salt and water till well done. Keep this aside.
  • Add the chopped plantain and yam along with turmeric powder, pepper powder, salt, and water.
  • Cook this on a low flame till the vegetables are done.
  • Add the cooked chana to this and mix well.
  • Grind together the coconut, cumin seeds, and red chilies into a semi-fine paste.
  • Add the ground paste to the vegetable mix.
  • Add jaggery and boil for three minutes.
  • In another smaller pan, heat the coconut oil. Add mustard seeds and let it splutter/pop. Add urad dal, red chilies, and curry leaves. Add 2 tbsp grated coconut to this and roast till it becomes golden brown.
  • Add this to the Kootu curry and serve.

The Kootu curry is a staple for every traditional Sadhya, and it’s the main dish for every Onam Sadhya!

5. Pineapple Pachadi

Top 10 Onam Sadhya Pineapple Pachadi
Top 10 Onam Sadhya Pineapple Pachadi
Pic Courtesy: Framed Recipes

The list of items for Onam Sadhya contains one of the most tantalizingly-flavored delicacies in Kerala cuisine – pineapple Pachadi. This is a sweet-sour dish, and this mixture of flavors adds a unique touch to the Onam Sadhya.


  • 1.25 cups fresh pineapple – chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon jaggery – grated
  • ¼ cup fresh coconut-grated
  • 2 green chili –  chopped
  • ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ cup Curd – beaten
  • Salt as required

For Tempering (Tadka)

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • ¼ teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 dry red chili
  • 8 curry leaves


  • Grind together the grated coconut, green chilies, and cumin seeds into a smooth paste. Add ½ tsp mustard seeds and beat lightly. Keep this mix aside.
  • Add the chopped pineapple, turmeric powder, jaggery, and water to a pan and cook on low flame.
  • Simmer till the pineapple is cooked.
  • Add the ground paste to this and simmer for 2 minutes.
  • Add beaten curd and mix gently.
  • In another small pan, prepare the tempering. Heat the coconut oil. Add mustard seeds and let this splutter. Add curry leaves and red chilies.
  • Pour the tempered mix into the Pachadi and serve.

Pachadi is yet another essential side dish found in most Sadhyas, and it goes without saying that it is a must-have for a traditional Onam Sadhya.

6. Pulissery

Top 10 Onam Sadhya Puliserry
Top 10 Onam Sadhya Puliserry
Pic Courtesy:

Pulissery, also called Moru curry, is one of the most familiar Onam Sadya dishes names that’s essential in the Onam Sadhya list. This tangy Onam Sadhya dish is a type of seasoned yogurt/buttermilk curry that is very simple to make.


  • 1 cup thick sour curd
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ½ cup fresh coconut – grated 
  • 3 green chilies
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 12 curry leaves

For Tempering (Tadka)

  • 8 fenugreek seeds
  • 2 dry red chilies
  • ¼ cup sliced pearl onions/shallots
  • ½ teaspoon finely chopped ginger


  • Grind together the grated coconut, curry leaves, green chilies, cumin seeds, and water to make a smooth paste and keep aside.
  • Mix the curd with a little water and turmeric powder till it’s smooth. Add salt. Blend in the ground paste and mix well.
  • Pour this mix into a saucepan and place on low flame, and frequently stir for two minutes. Do not let this boil.
  • To make the tempering, heat coconut oil in a small pan. Add mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds and wait for these to pop/splutter. Then, add the red chilies and curry leaves. Add shallots and ginger to this and sauté for two minutes. Once done, add the tempered mix to the saucepan. 

Towards the end of the Onam Sadhya, pour warm Pulisseri over a little bit of rice and enjoy!

7. Puli Inji

Top 10 Onam Sadhya Puli Inji
Top 10 Onam Sadhya Puli Inji
Pic Courtesy: Pepper Delight

The Onam Sadhya is incomplete without the tangy-hot gingery flavor of this next item! The Puli Inji dish adds a unique flavor that is quite distinct from the flavors of the usual top dishes for Onam Sadhya. This power-packed Onam Sadhya chutney/pickle dish is made with ginger and tamarind, and this is a dish that is sure to play with your taste buds in a good way!


  • ½ cup ginger – finely chopped/minced
  • 8 green chilies – chopped
  • 1 gooseberry-sized tamarind piece – soaked for 10-15 minutes
  • 1-2 red chilies
  • 2-3 tbsp coconut oil
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½  tsp red chili powder
  • ¼ cup jaggery
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 sprig of curry leaves


  • Squeeze and extract thick tamarind juice and keep it aside.
  • Add jaggery pieces to a cup of hot water. Once dissolved, strain this and keep it aside.
  • In a deep pan/Kadai, heat the coconut oil and fry the ginger until it’s brown. Once fried, remove this from the pan, leaving the oil in the pan, and keep this aside. Once cooled, grind this in a mixer-grinder.
  • In the same Kadai used before, add mustard seeds. Add the dry red chilies, chopped green chilies, and curry leaves, and sauté this. 
  • Add the tamarind juice along with salt, chili, and turmeric powders. Boil till this mix thickens.
  • Add the ginger and let this boil. Then add the jaggery mix, and bring it to a boil. Let it simmer until the mixture becomes thick and gets reduced by half. 

There you have it- Puli Inji is now ready! This awesome pickle dish adds a whole different dimension to the Onam Sadhya! Best of all, this dish can be prepared and stored well in advance, thereby giving you a bit more time to enjoy the Onam festivities.

8. Thoran

Top 10 Onam Sadhya Thoran
Top 10 Onam Sadhya Thoran

Besides the must-have Onam Sadhya curries, dry vegetable dishes also make an appearance on the banana leaf. Yes, get ready to prepare the most simple and humble Onam dish – the cabbage Thoran.  This dish is a favorite amongst Keralites during Onam.


  • 2 cups cabbage – chopped 
  • 2 green chilies – chopped
  • 1-2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1tsp mustard seeds
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ cup grated coconut
  • 1 sprig of curry leaves
  • 2 red chilies
  • Salt to taste


  • Heat a pan and add coconut oil to it, followed by mustard seeds. Once the seeds pop, add curry leaves and the red chilies. Let this roast for a bit.
  • Add the chopped cabbage, turmeric powder, green chilies, and salt and mix well.
  • Stir occasionally till the cabbage is done.
  • Add grated coconut and keep it on low flame for two minutes.

The Thoran is a vital part of every Keralite’s lunch, and it can be made with other vegetables like carrots, beans, beetroot, etc. However, for a traditional Onam Sadhya, it’s always best to serve cabbage Thoran.

9. Kaalan

Top 10 Onam Sadhya Kaalan
Pic Courtesy:

Among the top ten Onam Sadhya foods, Kaalan is often ranked at the top. It is a traditional recipe that is favored by South Indians and North Indians alike. This dish is very popular during Onam and is often served at all Onam Sadhyas.


  • 1 cup coconut-grated
  • 1 chili
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 cup yam – chopped
  • 1 raw plantain – cubed
  • 1 chili, slit
  • Few curry leaves
  • ½ tsp methi powder
  • ¼ tsp Kashmiri red chili powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ¾ tsp pepper powder
  • Salt
  • 1 cup curd – whisked

For Tempering (Tadka)

  • ½ tbsp coconut oil
  • ½ tsp mustard
  • ¼ tsp methi
  • 1 dried red chili


  • Cook the chopped plantain and yam with turmeric powder, chili, chili powder, pepper powder, water, fenugreek powder, and salt till well done.
  • Grind together coconut, chili, cumin, and half a cup of water into a semi-fine paste.
  • Add this paste to the cooked vegetables and mix well. let it simmer for five minutes
  • Remove from heat and add whisked curd and mix gently.
  • Add the tempering made with coconut oil, mustard seeds, red chili, and curry leaves.
  • Serve with warm rice.

Hot and spicy Kaalan is a great side dish that’s served during a traditional Onam lunch.

10. Parippu Pradhaman

Top 10 Onam Sadhya Parippu Pradhaman Payasam
Top 10 Onam Sadhya Parippu Pradhaman Payasam

At the end of the Onam Sadhya comes the delicious desserts! Onam is not Onam without the deliciously rich flavors of the Parippu Pradhaman! This is a mouth-watering, sweet dish that is the perfect way to end your Onam Sadhya! Without a doubt, the highlight of every Onam Sadhya menu is this payasam.


  • 1 cup jaggery
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup thin coconut milk
  • 1/8 tsp dry ginger powder
  • A pinch of cardamom powder
  • 1/2 cup thick coconut milk
  • 1/8 tsp cumin powder
  • 5 cashews
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 1 tbsp coconut pieces


  • In a pan, dissolve 1 cup of jaggery in 2 cups of water. 
  • Heat the ghee in a pressure cooker. Fry cashews and coconut pieces till golden. Keep this aside.
  • Add moong dal to the cooker and roast for 2 minutes.
  • Add water to the cooker and pressure-cook the dal for two whistles on a low flame.
  • After the cooker has cooled down, open it up and mash the dal well.
  • Add jaggery syrup and coconut milk, and mix this well.
  • Place on low flame and let it simmer for five minutes.
  • Add cumin powder, ginger powder, cardamom powder, roasted cashews, and coconut pieces and mix well.

One helping of this delightful Onam dessert is never enough, so be prepared to serve extra during the Onam Sadhya!  

Onam is a very popular harvest festival and is celebrated worldwide. It’s the time for togetherness. The Onam Sadhya is a spectacular way of bringing families and friends together. It’s also the best way to showcase Kerala cuisine in all its splendor! 

Take part in this wonderful festival by trying out your Onam Sadhya this year! Let us know in the comments how you spent your Onam this year and which of these recipes did you try out!

 Happy Onam 2022 to all our readers!

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One Comment

  1. Vasumathy Rajagopalan

    Wow.. Thank u for the detailed recipes..

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