Sadya: The Traditional Vegetarian Cuisine of Kerala


The traditional and predominantly Hindu cuisine of Kerala is called Sadya meaning ‘the big feast.’ This gastronomic excess vegetarian cuisine is a necessary ‘lunch’ on almost every big celebration in Kerala. Though the population in Kerala, except for the Namboodiris and the Brahmins are non-vegetarian, sadya is still a favourite among Keralites.

Unlike other food practices the sadya is started preparing the night before and is finished before 10am. Moreover, it follows a serving procedure, another highlight of this cuisine.

Sadya, the traditional meal is served in plantain leaf with the tip of the leaf towards the left of the person eating the Kerala multi-flavoured lunch. All the items are served in small quantities. The serving begins with banana chips and jaggery-coated banana lumps. Pachadi (mango, pineapple or cucumber in curd) is served first, followed by thoran (sauteed vegetable preparation with coconut), Aviyal (Mixed vegetable with gravy), Olan (gourd) and Theeyal (mixed vegetable with lose gravy and fried coconut made into paste). The traditional Kerala mango and lemon pickles followed by ginger curry are served after this. A banana and a papad are also served.
After the curry layout is set, boiled rice (unpolished variety) is served, into which parippu curry (thick lentil dish with coconut) is poured. Heated ghee is poured as a topping. The papad is crushed upon this to make a mixture, to be taken with the curries. After Parippu, sambar is taken with rice.

With variations in regions, the sadya too varies. Overall, the traditional sadya will be more or less the same. To get the feel of sadya it has to be taken in the traditional form, with a final licking on the fingers.
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