How to eat the traditional Onam sadhya? Chef Pillai explains

Chef Pillai has opened his new restaurant in Bengaluru


Wondering where to get a traditional Onam sadya? Bangaloreans can have a princely sadya this Onam, prepared by Chef Suresh Pillai, who has become a household name with his videos of traditional Kerala recipes with a twist.

Restaurant Chef Pillai, his new restaurant in Bengaluru’s Whitefield offers a whopping 26-dish sadya (a multi-course vegetarian meal) with three types of payasam. The Onam sadya costs Rs 999 and takeaway and home delivery options are available between August 20 and 22.

‘’Starting my own restaurant has been a long-nourished dream,’’ says Pillai, a former BBC MasterChef contestant. Pillai shares some tips on how to eat the Travancore Onam sadya the right way. ‘’It is an eight-course meal that starts with an amuse-bouche (small appetisers preceding the main course) of banana wafers and chips coated with jaggery. The first course includes rice, dal and ghee, along with nine dishes including pachadi, kichadi, avial, thoran, injipuli, kootukari, theeyal and pickle. The second course consists of rice and sambar. This is followed by a third course of ada pradhaman and banana. Course four features paal payasam and boli. The fifth course includes a fruit payasam like pineapple pradhaman or a lentil based payasam. Rice and pulissery is served as the sixth course. The seventh course includes rice and rasam. Butter milk served in the last course helps in digestion.

As a child, Chef Pillai loved the lore of King Mahabali, because of whom he would get new clothes and good food. Onam, that marks King Mahabali’s return to Kerala is celebrated with much pomp and splendour. Pillai and his siblings would look forward to the festival. ‘’Back then, there were no readymade clothes or branded shirts. So, we’d go to the neighbourhood tailor to get our shirts and trousers stitched. We’d get the stitched clothes,’’ he recalls.

 Pillai grew up on an island by the Ashtamudi lake in Kerala. His parents were poor and Pillai and his siblings would barely have three square meals a day. Pillai’s mother would prepare a sumptuous meal and the children would eat to their heart’s content. The sadya would be followed by two varieties of payasam including Ada Pradhaman  made by his father, who was an occasional cook.

Onam is around the corner and Pillai becomes that little child impatiently waiting for festivities to begin.

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