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Alternative namesസദ്യ
Place of originIndia
Region or stateKerala
Other informationKamayan (Philippines)
Traditional Kerala Sadya

Sadya (Malayalam: സദ്യ) is a meal of Kerala origin and of importance to all Malayalis, consisting of a variety of traditional vegetarian dishes usually served on a banana leaf in Kerala as lunch.[1] Sadya is typically served as a traditional feast for Onam, the state festival of Kerala and Vishu.[2]


Valla sadya

A typical Sadya can have about 24–28 dishes served as a single course. In cases where it is a much larger one it can have over 64 or more items, such as the Sadya for Aranmula Boatrace (Valla Sadya).[3] During a traditional Sadya celebration, people are seated cross-legged on mats.[4] Food is eaten with the right hand, without cutlery.[4] The fingers are cupped to form a ladle.[4]

The main dish is plain boiled rice, served along with other curries, Koottaan (കൂട്ടാന്‍) which include curries like parippu, sambar, rasam, pulisseri and others like kaalan, avial, thoran, olan, pachadi, kichadi, koottukari, erissery, mango pickle, injipuli, mezhukkupuratti, naranga achaar (lime pickle), as well as papadam, plantain chips, sharkara upperi, banana, plain curd and buttermilk.[3][5][6][7] The buttermilk is typically served near the end of the meal.[3] The traditional dessert called payasam served at the end of the meal is of many kinds[3] and usually three or more are served. Some of the varieties are Paal Ada pradhaman, Ada pradhaman, Parippu pradhaman, Chakka pradhaman, Gothampu payasam, Paal Payasam etc. The different 'Koottan' are made with different vegetables and have different flavors. The variety of curries is to symbolize prosperity and well-being.

A sadya served for Onam

The dishes are served in different spots on the banana leaf.[8] For example, the pickles are served on the top left corner and the banana in the bottom left corner, which helps the waiters to easily identify and decide on offering additional servings. The most common ingredients in all the dishes are vegetables, coconut and coconut oil as they are abundant in Kerala. Coconut milk is used in some dishes and coconut oil is used for frying.

There are variations in the menu depending on the place. Although the custom is to use traditional and seasonal vegetables indigenous to Kerala or the Southwest Coast of India, it has become common practice to include vegetables such as carrots, pineapples, and beans in the dishes. Tradition has it that onion and garlic are not typically used in the sadya. Conventionally, the meal may be followed by chewing of vettila murukkaan, betel leaf[9] with lime and arecanut. This helps digestion of the meal and also cleanses the palate.[9] The sadya may had inspired the kamayan in Filipino cuisine with major differences.


Pachadi is sometimes used in sadya

The sadya is usually served for lunch,[10] although a lighter version is served for dinner too. Preparations begin the night before, and the dishes are prepared before ten o'clock in the morning on the day of the celebration. On many occasions, sadya is served on tables, as people no longer find it convenient to sit on the floor. Sourcing of items/ingredients for Sadya is an elaborate and careful process to ensure quality. The lighting of the fire to prepare the sadya is done after a prayer to Agni and the first serving is offered on a banana leaf in front of a lighted nilavilallku as an offering to god.

In a Sadya, the meals are served on a banana leaf.[3] The leaf is folded and closed once the meal is finished.[11] In some instances, closing the leaf toward you communicates satisfaction with the meal, while folding it away from oneself signifies that the meal can be improved.[11] However, the direction the leaf is folded in can have different meanings in various parts of India.[12]

The Central Travancore-style sadya is renowned to be the most disciplined and tradition-bound.[13] There is usually an order followed in serving the dishes, starting from the chips and pickles first. However, different styles and approaches to making and serving the dishes are adopted in various parts of Kerala depending on local preferences.

Typical ingredients

The items include:[13][14]

Sadya items. Clockwise from top: paayasam (in mug), bittergourd thoran, aviyal, kaalan, lime pickle, saambaar, buttermilk, boiled rice in center

These side dishes are followed by desserts like Pradhaman and Payasams.[3] There is a strict order and placement of ingredients on the banana leaf.[7][8] Aranmula Valla Sadya is the most celebrated one with over 64 items served traditionally.[23]


Pradhaman is a sweet dish in the form of a thick liquid; similar to payasam, but with more variety in terms of ingredients and more elaborately made. It is made with white sugar or jaggery to which coconut milk is added. The main difference between a pradhaman and a payasam is that the former uses coconut milk, while the liquid versions of payasam use cow's milk.

See also


  1. ^ Kerala's Slow Food; The Indian banana leaf banquet that tastes like home by Shahnaz Habib AFAR March/ April 2014 page 49
  2. ^ Iyer, Meenakshi (25 August 2018). "Onam 2018, here's why Sadya is the most balanced meal, full of nutritional value – more lifestyle". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Happy Vishu 2017: Vishu Sadhya, Kerala's Grand New Year Feast". NDTV Food. 13 April 2017. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  4. ^ a b c Vasu, S.S.L.; Kumar, R. (2017). Morning Glory Blossoms. Partridge Publishing Singapore. p. 21. ISBN 978-1-5437-4244-2. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  5. ^ a b Rai, J. Curry Cookbook – Keralan Cuisine – Jay Rai's Indian Kitchen: करी व्यंजनों. Springwood media. p. pt4-5. ISBN 978-1-4761-2308-0. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  6. ^ Brien, C.O. (2013). The Penguin Food Guide to India. Penguin Books Limited. p. pt422. ISBN 978-93-5118-575-8. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Punit, 27 lip-smacking, vegetarian dishes to try during Kerala’s grandest feast (28 August 2015). "Quartz India". Quartz India. Retrieved 20 September 2018.((cite web)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  8. ^ a b c Kannampilly, V. (2003). The Essential Kerala Cookbook. Penguin Books. p. 9. ISBN 978-0-14-302950-2. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  9. ^ a b "Onam Sadya Items That Make the Traditional Recipe of Kerala Festival a Hit". 3 September 2017. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  10. ^ Basu, M. (2018). Masala: Indian Cooking for Modern Living. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. pt268. ISBN 978-1-4088-8687-8. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  11. ^ a b "The festive feast". The Hans India. 11 September 2016. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  12. ^ Pillai, Pooja (14 September 2016). "God's Own Platter". The Indian Express. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  13. ^ a b c d N. Satyendran (10 August 2010). "Onam on a leaf". The Hindu. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
  14. ^ a b c d "Onam special: Here's what a traditional Onam sadhya consists of". The Indian Express. 13 September 2016. Retrieved 13 September 2016.
  15. ^ Ramya Menon. "God's Own Feast-ival!". Cucumbertown. Archived from the original on 4 September 2014.
  16. ^ Tiwari, Nimisha (19 July 2018). "Flavours of India: Here's a look at a plethora of dishes that make festivals fun". The Economic Times. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  17. ^ a b c d "Watch: Essential parts of an Onam Sadhya". Firstpost. 4 September 2017. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  18. ^ "Onam Sadya: Know Everything About It". Caringly Yours. 9 August 2020. Retrieved 13 August 2020.
  19. ^ "When kanji used to be the special item on wedding menu". OnManorama. 29 August 2018. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  20. ^ Kannan, A. (2011). From the South Delectable Home Cooking. DC Books. p. 1. ISBN 978-81-921926-2-8. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  21. ^ a b c N. Satyendran (6 July 2012). "Pachadi". Retrieved 14 September 2016.
  22. ^ "Onam 2018: All the delicacies that make up the very vast Onam sadhya feast". The Indian Express. 24 August 2018. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  23. ^ "Sing out loud for a 64-dish sadya". The Times of India. 22 August 2015. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  24. ^ Kannampilly, V. (2003). The Essential Kerala Cookbook. Penguin Books. p. 232. ISBN 978-0-14-302950-2. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  25. ^ James, Merin (31 August 2017). "It's sadhya time, let's feast!". The Asian Age. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  26. ^ Varghese, T. (2006). Stark World Kerala. Stark World Pub. p. 107. ISBN 978-81-902505-1-1. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  27. ^ Abram, D. (2010). The Rough Guide to Kerala. Rough Guides. p. pt86. ISBN 978-1-4053-8806-1. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  28. ^ "Chakka Maholsavam to feature jackfruit delicacies". The Hindu. 10 May 2018. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  29. ^ Nagarajan, Saraswathy (20 August 2021). "Payasam fetes usher in the sweet notes of Onam in Kerala". The Hindu.
  30. ^ India Ministry of Tourism (2001). Explore India: The Official Newsletter of the Ministry of Tourism. Durga Das Publications Pvt. Limited. Retrieved 20 September 2018.