When you are born in a Palghat- Brahmin family, you are constantly at war with yourself about whether you’re a Malayali or a Tamilian! Rather than fight the details, it’s easier to celebrate all the festivals of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. One such perennial favourite is Onam.
As many Indian festivals, Onam is another one that ushers in memories of various food items. How could it not, when it’s an occasion where 22 dishes are served (yes, 22-64 dishes for lunch!). And with it the best ingredients of happiness–a family laughing and gathered over a lovingly prepared meal celebrating life in all the shades of our diverse India.
Onam Sadya: What does it comprise of?
A typical sadya will have some staple dishes: Avial (a kadi with veggies), Pappadam (papad), pickles (authentic homemade ginger- tamarind and mango pickle), rice, pulissery (cooked or stewed buttermilk with a bottle gourd or ash gourd flavour), payasam (two or more varieties of kheer), plantain chips, sambar, three variants of vegetables with a mix of dal and many more.
As you can see, curd, veggies, and coconut are a favourite staple. But according to a lot of studies, Onam’s sadya is extremely nutritional and well-balanced. What’s more? It can act as a cure to a variety of stomach disorders.
“Onam marks the end of the Varsha Ritu (monsoon). In monsoon, the Agni becomes very volatile- which means it can fluctuate. At the end of Varsha Ritu, you are expected to eat something that soothes your Agni. The items served in Onam’s sadya gives adequate nourishment as well as restores the probiotics in the gut. There are plantains, pickles that can help your gut in a great way (if consumed in Sadya’s combination). The sadya categorically has the shad rasa or the six tastes of Ayurveda. When you eat the traditional Onam diet containing coconuts, plantains, and pickles- it balances the internal system with the external moisture,” says Nidhi Pandya, a Thriive-verified Ayurveda expert.
That’s why when you do the Onam diet right, you are restoring the Agni and will help your body for the coming seasons.
So can it be consumed at any given time or day or place?
Well, NO. Any food item is nourishing in accordance with the place as well as the time of consumption. “Remember that these foods are not good universally and that you cant chomp on them on any given day and time. This diet is specifically beneficial if you stay in the southern monsoon environment where there is more moisture and salt in the air. This is a specific diet that is extremely balanced and healthy if you stay in that region,” she added.
But a dry and humid climate in other regions would prevent the correct digestion of the otherwise wholesome Onam. So, balance is key. But above all is the joy of the celebrations, and anything consumed with a sense of positivity and love will always do anyone good!