Thursday, September 07, 2006

Recipe: Pradhaman

Well, we have been looking at recipes of side dishes of Onam. Let us take a detour now and see how we can prepare the dessert items. For Onam, the desserts prepared are different types of Payasams and Pradhamans. Pradhamans are prepared using coconut milk and jaggery (except in Palada Pradhaman) where as payasams are prepared using milk and sugar . There are some exceptions though.

There are different types of Pradhamans unique to Kerala. Some of the very famous ones being adapradhaman, chakkapradhaman, parippu pradhaman, idichu pizhinja payasam, aval pradhaman, wheat Pradhaman, etc.

Parippu Pradhamans are of different types. Pradhamans using only parippu(dal) or a combination of parippu and rice. Both Bengal gram dal and moong dal are used in preparing pradhaman.

Let us see how moong dal and rice pradhaman is prepared.

Parippu Pradhaman:

Moong dal : ¼ cup
Raw rice : ¼ cup
Jaggery 1 ½ cups
Coconut milk from 1 coconut
Readymade coconut milk 1 tin
Ghee 2 tsp.


Grate the coconut and extract the milk thus:

1. Add 2 tbsp. of warm water and blend in the blender. Remove. Squeeze the milk out and strain the milk. Keep this 1st milk aside.
2. Put the coconut residue back into the blender add ½ cups of tepid water and blend in the blender. Remove. Squeeze the milk out and strain the milk. Keep this 2nd milk aside.
3. Put the residue back into the blender add 2 cups of tepid water and blend in the blender. Remove squeeze the milk out and strain the milk. Keep this 3rd milk aside.

When using readymade coconut milk, you are saved of this tedious procedure. Any day, fresh coconut milk squeezed tastes much better than canned coconut milk.

Dry roast the moong dal to light pink colour. Wash the rice and moong dal and cook in a pressure cooker in the 3rd milk, for three whistles. If using tinned coconut milk, cook with 2 tbsp. of coconut milk and 2 cups of water.

Melt the jaggery with a little water and strain to remove any impurities. Boil the jaggery syrup in a wide bottomed non-stick pan and add the cooked rice and dal. Boil until the mixture is thick. Add the 2nd coconut milk and boil again to reduce the water content (if using tinned milk add 1 cup of water and the ghee and boil once and add the remaining coconut milk. Remove from heat immediately). When the pradhaman starts thickening add 2 tsp. of ghee and boil for another 5 mitutes, stirring well, until well blended. Remove from heat. Add the first milk and stir constantly for 5 minutes, to blend in the first milk. After adding the first milk, the pradhaman should not be boiled.

Delicious Parippu Pradhaman is ready.

Recipe: Aviyal

Aviyal again is a dish prepared with as many vegetables as one can get. There is a legend about this dish. The maharaja of Travencore used to perform Murajapam everyyear, a vedic seminar, in which a large number of vedic scholars participated. One year it so happened that there was no vegetables left on the last day of the Murajapam.. Only few pieces of various vegetables left over from the previous days were available. The cook cut all the left overs into long thin pieces and prepared "Aviyal." The king liked the dish so much and presented him with a gold bracelet so much and ordered that this dish be served every year since then. All vegetables go in it, except perhaps, some mushy vegetables, like, tomato, brinjal, ladies fingers, cabbage, cauliflower, beetroot (it stains the dish), radish, turnip, onion, sweet potato, etc. Otherwise, all the following vegetables can be used, depending on the availability.
Raw Green plantain
Elephant yam (amorphopallus is the botanical name, Chena in Malayalam, chenai kizhangu in Tamil, Suvarna
in Kannada, Jameenkhand in Hindi),
Chembu (colocasia, cheppam kizhangu in Tamil, arvi in
Snake gourd (Trichosanthes Anguina)
Ash gourd
Avarakkai (Saem in Hindi))
Chow Chow (Sechium edule, Bangalore Kathrikkai in
Malayalam and Tamil, Seeme badanakkaye in Kannada)
Thondekkai ( kova kkai in Tamil)
Lobia (payar in Malayalam, Karamani in Tamil, Halasinde in Kannada)
Green mango (raw)
Raw jackfruit
A small quantity of bitter gourd can be used to give a tinge of bitterness

Since a variety of vegetables are used, we will need only very small quantity of each of them and also it is very difficult to prepare 2 servings or 4 servings. However, even if the prepared quantity is more than can be consumed, it keeps well for a couple of days under refrigeration. This can be frozen also.

Now for the recipe:
The preparation of aviyal is very simple.

Vegetables: 250 gms of mixed vegetables.
Turmeric powder: 1tsp.
Grated fresh coconut :1½ cups
Green chillies: 5 to 8 nos. according to taste
Curds 3-4 tbsp lightly sour (if using raw mango, do not use curds)
Salt to taste
Curry leaves : a few
Coconut oil 2 tbsp. (it is the coconut oil which gives aviyal the aroma and taste, hence do not substitute)
Wash and cut all the vegetables lengthwise into 2" pieces(stick shape). Boil the vegetables until just done, with turmeric powder and salt. One should be careful not to overcook the vegetables: they should remain crisp.(There are some vegetables which cook very fast and some which take a long time. Keep adding the vegetables to the boiling water according to the cooking time, the longer cooking vegetables first and the quicker ones last) Grind the coconut with green chillies, without using water. Drain the vegetables. Put them in a wide mouthed large pan in mild heat, add the coconut mixture, beaten curds, curry leaves and coconut oil and gently toss for few minutes, until all the vegetables are coated with coconut and coconut oil. If using a spoon, be careful not to mash the vegetables. Remove from heat add fresh curry leaves.

This aviyal can be used as a side dish for sambar rice or any other rice. If this has to be used as a main dish for rice, make the aviyal with a little more of beaten curds to get a gravy. One can use the water used for cooking the vegetable to make the gravy, if short of curds. Aviyal can be eaten with rice, dosa, chappathi or Poori. Our son relishes pooris with refrigerated aviyal.

Suggested accompaniments: Pappad


Another year, another Thiruvonam. In Kerala, there is a popular saying "I have eaten more Onam than you," to indicate one's seniority in age. Each Thiruvonam brings nostalgic memories of the Onam spent in Kerala during our childhood. We used to go out in the evenings searching the countryside for flowers and flowerbuds (we would put them in water so that they would blossom the next day). In the morning, we would collect the flowers from our own garden and those from the roadside fences. There were plenty of creepers on the fences with flowers of different hues. We would get up quite early, so that we would reach there before everyone else. Thankfully, to this day we have flowers in our own garden for the "pookalam." We used to get some flowers from the gardens on the road dividers on the ring roads, on our morning walk till a couple of years ago. Now there are only concrete dividers with iron grills. Beautifying the city!

We had a very busy morning, collecting flowers, making the pookalam, preparing the lunch, keeping the house ready for our guest. We prepared Sambar, kalan, aviyal, erissery, pachadi, puliinji, upperi, pappadam and payasam (rice and dal in coconut milk and jaggery). Our guest arrived early and he enjoyed the food. "The payasam was delicious," he said. My father used to like this payasam very much also, he said. (He is 78 years old, our guest, not his father).

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Recipe: Sambar

Though preparations for Onam Sadya start days in advance, there are many things which can be done only on Onam day. Kalan and pulinji can be prepared one or two days in advance. Other delicacies have to prepared on the day of the feast.

There are varieties of Sambar prepared in the southern states, but the sambar prepared by Kerala Iyers beats them all. This sambar is prepared by grinding fresh spices. No readymade sambar powder is used here. Each time, the sambar is made, spices are ground fresh. We follow this system to this day.

Traditionally, vegetables like, ladies finger (okra), brinjal (eggplant), drum sticks, chembu(taro root/colacacia), avarakkai(snowpeas), pumpkin, ash gourd, etc. are used. In recent years, vegetables like capsicum (bell peppers), tomato, knolkhol, radish, methi leaves, etc. are all used (these were not used earlier since they were not available then). Radish sambar tastes especially great.

The sambar made out of a combination of all the above vegetables is known as kootu sambar and prepared for big feasts. It could be prepared in the combination of all the above or any of them or any other combination, depending on the availability. Each vegetable renders a special flavour to the dish.


4 servings:

Since a variety of vegetables is used, a little of each vegetable is selected, totalling to 250gms.

Tamarind: size of a ping pong ball
Toor dal: ¾ cup
Coriander seeds : 1 tbsp.
Bengal gram dal:1 tbsp.
Methi seeds : ½ tsp
Hing(asafoetida) pea size
Red chillies : 5.
Grated coconut: 3 tbsp.
Turmeric powder :1 tsp.
Jaggery : a small piece
Salt to taste

Oil 1 tbsp.
Mustard seeds: 2 tsp.
Curry leaves: a few
Coriander leaves 1 tbsp. (optional)


Wash and cut the vegetables like pumpkin, ash gourd, radish,etc., into 2" cubes. Cut ladies finger, brinjal, drumstick, radish, avarakkai etc. into 2" long pieces. Pressure cook the dal with 1½ tsp turmeric powder and enough water to achieve a smooth consistency.

Heat 1 tsp oil and roast the hing, coriander seeds, Bengal gram dal, methi seeds, 4 red chillies and a few curry leaves to a light brown colour. Grind the roasted spices with the coconut gratings to a smooth paste.

Soak tamarind in warm water for ½ hr and extract the juice. Boil the tamarind extract and add the cut vegetables . Add salt and 1 tsp turmeric powder and cook till the vegetables are done. Mash the cooked dal and add to the tamarind, vegetable mixture and boil for another 5 mnts. Add the jaggery and ground paste. Boil for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Add curry leaves and coriander leaves.

Heat the remaining oil in a small pan, add the mustard seeds. When they start spluttering, add the cut red chillies and curry leaves and pour into the sambar.

ENJOY with Idli, sambar or rice.

Suggested accompaniments: Thoran, Erissery,Olan...

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Recipe: Puliyodarai

Puliyodarai is a perennial favorite and an easy extension of puliinji.
To make 4 servings:

Rice 250 gms.
Coriander seeds 1 tbsp.
Bengal gram dal 1 tbsp.
Pepper corns 1 tsp.
Jeera ½ tsp.
Dry coconut (copra) grated 2 tbsp.
Fresh curry leaves: a few

Oil 2tsp.
Ground nuts: 1 tbsp.

Puliinji (of course): 2 tbsp.

Cook rice with just enough water and 1 tsp of gingelly oil, so that the grains are separate. Spread in a wide pan.

Dry roast, coriander seeds, Bengal gram dal, pepper corns and jeera until the coriander seeds and dal turn light pink. Keep aside for a while to cool and powder.

Heat the oil and add the ground nuts. When they are fried, remove from heat, add the curry leaves and grated copra and pour to the cooked rice. Add 2 tbsps of prepared Puliinji and the ground powder. Mix well and serve. Best eaten with a deep fried side like papads or chips or (yes) salty nendran chips.

Recipe: Puliinji

The main ingredients in this preparation, are tamarind(Puli) and ginger(Inji). Hence the name, Puliinji. In some parts, it is also known as Pulikachal. Traditionally, gingelly (til) oil is used in the preparation of Puliinji, this gives a special flavour to the dish. Any other oil could be used. The quantity given will make about 300 - 400ml of Pulinji. This Puliinji can be kept upto 6 months under refrigeration. Puliinji is a very tasty accompaniment for rice, curds rice, idli, dosa, chappathi, or Poori. It can also be used as sandwich filling.


Tamarind : 250gms.
Ginger : 200gms
Green Chillies: 100gms
Gingelly oil : 1 cup
Jaggery : 200gms
Mustard seeds: 1 tbsp.
Split urad dal: 1 tbsp.
Bengal gram dal: 1 tbsp.
Curry leaves: a few
Red chillies : 3-4
Turmeric powder: 2 tsp.
Salt to taste

Gingelly seeds (Til or Ellu): 2 tbsp. (optional)

Soak tamarind in warm water for ½ hour and extract thick juice and keep aside. Slice the ginger and green chillies into very small pieces. Heat oil in a wide bottomed, thick pan. When the oil starts smoking, reduce the heat and add mustard seeds. When they splutter, add urad dal, Bengal gram dal, broken red chillies and curry leaves (in that order). Increase the heat. When the dals turn light brown in colour, add the sliced green chillies, fry for 2 minutes and add the sliced ginger. Fry for another 2 minutes and pour the tamarind extract. Add turmeric powder, salt and jaggery and allow the mixture to boil to a thick consistency.(about ½ hour ) When the oil starts floating on the surface, remove from heat.

Dry roast the til seeds and powder finely. Add this powder to the prepared Puliinji.


This Puliinji is very versatile dish, as mentioned earlier. This can also be used for making Puliyodarai(a rice preparation). That will be my next post.

Recipe: Kalan update.

Next in the line of preparations ahead of Onam day, come Puliinji and Kalan. Both are prepared one or two days in advance. Preparation for Kalan begins atleast one week in advance, as the curds used must be sour. So, the left over curds of each day is kept separately for a few days, so that they will be sour by the time Kalan is prepared. A commenter on the earlier Kalan recipe post, had asked about curds separating while boiling it. The trick of curds not separating while boiling lies in using sour curds. Even in warm weather the curds do not go bad, the thick curds settles down and if there is any water content, it can be poured out. This thick sediment does not go stale, even for a week. In the olden days, when refrigerators were not around, gallons of curds were prepared and kept aside for preparation for Kalan for
big feasts like marriages. In colder weather, curds should necessarily be kept in room temperature at least for 3 - 4 days.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Recipe: Dhokla

If you are a bit more adventurous, you can try making

1 cup besan
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup butter milk
1 tsp rava
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp coconut(optional)
Salt to taste
Soda bi carb a pinch

Mix all the ingredients except lemon juice and butter milk thoroughly. Add the lemon juice. Add butter milk little at a time stirring the mixture constantly. Add enough butter milk to get a dosa batter consistency.

Grease a plate and pour the mixture and steam for 7 minutes. Heat 1 tsp of oil, add hing, mustard, 1 tsp green chillies 1 tsp of ginger. Before pouring it onto the dokla, add 1 tbsp of water and pour on dhokla. Cut the dhokla into squares


Recipe: Bondas

Continuing with the besan theme, once you've made the batter for the bonda you need to make:
The stuffing for bondas:

Bondas can be made with only mashed potatoes or mixed vegetables. Mashed tapioca can also be used. For mixed vegetable:

Potato 1
Carrot 1
Beans 4
Capsicum 1 small piece
Peas 1 tsp

Chopped Green chillies 1 tsp
Chopped Ginger tsp.
Oil 1tsp
Mustard ½ tsp
Turmeric powder ½ tsp
Lemon juice 1 tsp(optional)
Coriander leaves

Any or all of the above vegetables may be used. Cook the vegetables and mash them thoroughly. Heat 1 tsp oil, add mustard seed. When they splutter, add the green chillies, ginger and mashed vegetables, salt and turmeric powder. Mix well. Remove from stove. Add coriander leaves and lemon juice(this gives an extra tingling taste) Make small balls of the mixture, dip in the besan paste and deep fry.

If using only potatoes, mash boiled potatoes and follow the same method.

Recipe: What to do with Besan (continued)

Basically you can make bajjis and bondas with besan. You need a little cornflour or riceflour to get an extra crispiness. A little soda bi-carbonate(cooking soda) is also needed.This is available as a big pack in the US. See if you can get a 100gm pack in Indian stores. Or you can borrow 4 tbsp from a friend who cooks more regularly(this quantity will be good for ½ kg besan).

The besan paste for dipping bajjis and bondas is same, except that for bondas you make it a bit more thicker than bajjis.

Bajjis can be made with any vegetable, like, chillies, red pumpkin, vazhakkai (plantain), karela (bitter gourd), brinjal, Bangalore kathrikkai, potatoes, onions(slice onions in rounds) and capsicum (green peppers).

The Paste:

For 4 - 8 bajjis:

Besan : 3 tbsp.
Rice flour or cornflour : 2 tsp.
Soda bi carb a pinch
Salt to taste
Chilli powder 1 tsp(do not add chilli powder if you are making chilli bajjis :))

Mix all the dry ingredients well. Make a paste by adding water little at a time and stirring the mixture constantly. You will get a smooth paste. For bajjis it can be a little thicker than dosa batter. For bondas you make it as thick as idli batter. Slice the vegetables into thin rounds or long pieces, dip them in the paste and deep fry in very hot oil.

What to do with Besan

While we go on and on about Onam (many more to come), I'm taking a brief detour here to put up some recipes that involve besan (chick pea flour). My handsome and very charming son called me the other day and told me he had bought some besan to see what he could make with it. Only one problem: he had no idea what to make with it. So to satisfy his immediate issue, a couple recipes here that involve besan as a main component. Then back to Onam blogging.

Recipe: Nendrankai Peel Thoran

Next are the Nendrankai peels.

A thoran (porial) with Nendrankai peels is the most favoured item of many Keralites. Many people go to the chips shops to get the peels that the shops discard anyway. The peels thoran is very tasty and nutritious.


Nendrankai peels
Dry cowpeas 100gms
Coconut gratings 2 tbsp.
Green chillies 2 nos.
Curry leaves 1 sprig
Turmeric powder 1 tsp.
Cooking oil 2 tbsp.
Mustard seeds 1 tsp
Split urad dal 1 tsp.
Salt to taste

(In Kerala coconut oil is used, which renders a
special flavour to the curry}


Soak the cowpeas overnight. Drain the water Slit the nendrankai peels intothin strips lengthwise, about ½ cm wide. Then cut them into tiny pieces about ½ cm square. Pressure cook the cowpeas and peel pieces, with enough water for three whistles. Cool, remove and drain the excess water. Heat the oil, add the mustard seeds. When they start spluttering, add the urad dal. When the dal turn light pink in colour, add the curry leaves and the boiled vegetable and cowpeas. Add turmeric powder and salt and stir fry until all the water is evaporated and the vegetables get coated with the oil. Grind the coconut with green chillies and add to the vegetables and stir fry for 2 more minutes. Remove from heat.


More Onam recipes to follow

Recipe: Sweet Nendran Chips

Fresh green Nendran bananas 2 nos.
Jaggery 1 cup
Dry ginger powder 2 tsp.
Granulated sugar 1 tbsp.
Oil for frying

Peel the nendran bananas. Reserve the peels. Slit the banana lengthwise and slice into ¼" - 1/3" thick pieces. Heat the oil and fry the banana pieces to a light brown colour. Do not add salt. Drain and cool.

Grate the jaggery and boil in a cup of water. Strain to remove any impurities. Reheat the strained syrup to a thick consistency (2 or 3 threads. When a drop of the syrup is poured into cold water, the syrup should make a firm ball, like a marble) in a thick bottomed, non stick pan. Remove from heat, add the dry ginger powder and the fried chips. Stir constantly until the chips are well coated with the jaggery syrup. Add granulated sugar and continue stirring until the syrup is dry and the chips are separated from one another.

Having made the chips and stored, a big preparation for Onam is done.

Recipe: Salty Nendran Chips

Fresh green Nendran banana (not the ripe one) : 2 nos.
Salt ¾ tsp.
Oil to fry

Wash and pat dry the nendran bananas. Remove the skin by inserting the knife at the angles. Draw a line lengthwise along the angle with the knife about 0.1 to 0.2 inches deep. The skin will come off as one peel. (the peeled bananas may be put in a basin containing water to remove the staining secretion from the bananas). Don't throw away the peels! Slice the bananas thin into rounds or slit the banana into four and slice them into quarters. Dissolve the salt in ¼ cup of water. Heat oil to smoking point, reduce heat and deep fry the banana pieces in batches. When the chips are golden yellow in colour, reduce the heat, sprinkle 1 tbsp of salt solution into the oil. Fry for 2 more minutes. Drain. Spread on a paper towel to remove the extra oil. When cool, store in a tin with a tight lid.

1. Be careful, when sprinkling the salt solution into the hot oil. Take care not to burn your fingers due to the splashing oil . Keep the heat at the lowest so that the oil does not overflow.

2. Be careful not to get the secretion from the raw bananas onto your clothes. The clothes may get a black stain which will be very difficult to remove.

3. Apply little bit of cooking oil on the palms to avoid the fingers becoming black.

Onam Sadhya

Onam Sadhya or Onam lunch is the most important feature of Onam. As I said earlier there is a big spread of a variety of vegetable curries and pickles and payasams and deep fried snacks.

Preparations start days in advance, the first ones being Upperi varukkal or making chips.

Two types of chips are made during Onam, both with Nendran banana (a special kind of plantains), one salty and the other sweet.

These and more will be described in future posts.

Saturday, September 02, 2006


Onam or Thiruvonam, as it is popularly known, is the most popular festival of Kerala. This festival is celebrated for 10 days, starting from Atham or Hastham. The tenth day after atham is Onam. Onam celebration continues for a couple of days more after Thiruvonam. It is celebrated in the Malayalam month of Chingam(between August 15 and September 15).

The legend is that long ago, an asura King by name Mahabali was ruling our country. Mahabali was the grandson of the great Prahlada. (Lord Vishnu had taken Narasimha avatara to prove to Prahalda's father that God is present everywhere and to slay the cruel king, who was torturing all those that worshipped the lord Mahavishnu). King Mahabali was a very kind and benevolent king who took care of his subjects very lovingly. During his rule, people were very happy and content. A popular Malayalam folk song says that during the rule of Mahabali, all people were alike(there was no discrimination on the basis of caste, creed or status), people did not have any fear of anything or anyone else, there was no cheating, no theft and not an iota of falsehood. The king became so popular that Gods in the heaven started fearing of their downfall. The Gods prayed to Lord Mahavishnu to arrest his rising popularity. Lord Mahavishnu took birth as the son of Aditi and Kasyapa, as Vamana(the dwarf). He visited Mahabali as a dwarf bramachari, when the king was performing a yagna. The charisma of the young boy was such that the king himself rose to welcome this unexpected guest and offered him a seat. The king asked Vamana what gift he wanted. Vamana humbly said, he wanted only three feet of land. The king urged him to ask for more expensive gifts, but Vamana did not want anything more than 3 feet of land. The king's guru, Sukracharya, with his divine sight at once knew the boy was no ordinary Brahmin and advised the king not to yield to the boys wish. The king did not want to go back on his promise and arranged for the ceremonial offering. Sukracharya hid himself in the nozzle of the king's water vessel, to block the water from the pot (During any ceremonial offering, as the offering is made to the receiver, water is poured on the hands of the receiver, as if to indicate the giver is washing off his right of the gift). Vamana poked a stick to remove the block and Sukracharya was blinded in one eye. As soon as the ceremonial offering was made by the King, Vamana's stature grew and with his one step he measured the whole earth and the sky, with the second one he measured the Patlaloka and he asked the king, where to measure his third step. The humbled king, who by now realised his guest was none other than the Lord, knelt before Vamana bowing his head and requested the Lord to put his third step on his head, for who can be more blessed to have the Lord's foot on his head. With his third step Vamana pushed Mahabali to Pathalaloka, but before going down to Pathalaloka, the benevolent king asked for a wish. His wish was that he should be permitted to visit his subjects once a year. The wish was granted and it is on Thiruvonam day, every year that the good king visits his subjects. That is why, the whole of Kerala make preparations well ahead of Thiruvonam to welcome their good old king, in all pomp and gaiety and make their homes as joyful as they were during Mahabali's rule. They decorate their houses and prepare grand feasts. There is a saying in Malayalam "Kaanam vittum Onam Unnanum"(One has to celebrate Onam, even if he has to sell his agricultural land).

This festival is celebrated by all Malayalees across the board. People of all religions celebrate Onam. It is the harvest festival of Kerala. After the Kallakarkitakam(the worst month of monsoon furies) the whole of Kerala is full of blossoms of all kinds to welcome Ponnin Chingam(golden Chingam), The preparations for Onam begins much earlier to Atham. As Kerala's farmers harvest their first crop, they offer it to God, which is known as Illam Nira. Few sheaves of the harvested crops are taken to the temple by all. After the Pooja, the sheaves are broght back home as the "prasad" to the accompaniment of chorus of Nira, Nira, Nirayo Nira, Illam Nira, Vallam Nira, Nira Nira Poli Poli(Let there be bountiful everywhere, at home, in the granary, everywhere). One or two sheaves is pasted in all rooms and the remaining sheaves are hung as a bunch in the centre hall of the house.

During this month there is a bountiful harvest of all vegetables and Kerala's own Nendran banana and the landscape is strewn with flowers of all colours and sizes.

Starting from Atham day, girls and womenfolk decorate their front yard with fresh flowers, known as Pookalam. The sumptuous Onasadhya or Onam lunch is the most important feature of Onam. A grand lunch is prepared on Onam day, which includes rice as the main course, with varieties of vegetable curries. Some of the vegetable specialitiesprepared on Onam day are, Sambar, Kalan, Olan, Aviyal, Thoran (Nendrankai peel thoran), Erisssery, Pulissery, Kichadi, Pachadi, Kootukari, Puliinji and Narangacurry. Along with these vegetable preparations, Valiya pappadam(big papad), banana chips(salty as well as sweet), and Pazha Nurukku are also served. The dessert comprises two or more varieties of Payasams like Ada Pradhaman, Parippu Pradhaman or Chakka Pradhaman or Pal Payasam. (I shall try to give the recipes for the above later).

After the Onam lunch, the womenfolk get together and sing and dance, which is known as Kaikottikali or Thirvathirakali. The menfolk used to engage in Villupattu an instrumental music played on the bows made of wood.

In the southern parts of Kerala, which are lined with back waters and rivers, boat racing is conducted during Onam.

It is a major festival in many of the temples and there are many legends for the various celebrations in the different temples.