Cabbage Thoran and Beans Pathichu Ollarthiyathu for Onasadhya

Onam is a festival to be celebrated at home, home as in Kerala, with the rest of the family. My mom has been telling me in very enthusiastic tones about the girls and boys dressed in traditional kasavu saree, pattu pavada, kasavu mundu and juba, the increased rush and traffic in town as people go about their Onam shopping, the sales and offers everywhere; and I feel a twinge of regret that I am not home.

Though I have never laid a pookalam (floral decorations), or participated in singing and dancing, or lighted crackers, or seen any vallam kalli (boat race) as part of Onam celebration, I have never missed an Onasadhya. An OnaSadhya is a lavish feast of 20 to 30 vibhavangal (dishes) served on a banana leaf; tropical vegetables of all kinds, steamed, sautéed or fried, mostly with coconut in some form or the other and curry leaves; parippu (cooked lentils) and ghee, sambar (lentils and vegetables cooked with spices), rasam (tangy tomato based soup), pulisseri (sweet and sour curd based curry), erissery (pumpkin and coconut curry) etc to soak up each serving of rice; pulli inji (sour ginger relish), pachadi (fried vegetables and sour curd) and achar (pickles) to add a hot kick to the meal; ettaka upperi (banana chips) for a sweet and salty crunch and a variety of payasam and pradhaman (white and dark milk puddings) to round off the meal.

It is impossible not to enjoy the explosion of flavors and tastes that make up this lavish spread. And equally enjoyable are the futile efforts of many as they try to sit themselves in a cross legged position on the floor before their banana leaf (they shift to a dining table making lack of space an excuse, or almost lie down on the floor as they eat), the arguments whether salt should be served on the left side or the right side of the leaf, and the dire warnings to children that they should eat everything served on their leaves or else Mahabali would be displeased. (Read more about Mahabali and the Onam legend here).

If you are not with the rest of your family, you are probably going to skip Onam celebrations because you feel it is not worth the effort. Or you may go to a Kerala restaurant to enjoy a Sadhya rather than slave at home. But I say it would be a better idea to rope in your partner, have fun making a few bare essential dishes together, and enjoy a happy (if not lavish) feast at home.

To start off, I make a thoran and a pattichu olarthiyathu because they are not just part of a fancy sadhya, but often make the vegetarian components of a regular malayali oonu (meal) as well.

A thoran is a dry stir fry dish, with plenty of shredded coconut and curry leaves and a seasoning of fried mustard seeds. It can be made with vegetables such as beans, carrot, cabbage, beetroot, spinach, drumstick etc. The vegetables are sauted in coconut oil seasoned with mustard seeds and onions so that it is tender and finally shredded coconut is added. Sometimes, a couple of cloves of garlic are also added.

  • Servings: 4-serving
  • Time: 30 mins
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

Onam is a festival to be celebrated at home, home as in Kerala, with the rest of the family. My mom has been telling me in very enthusiastic tones about the girls and boys dressed in traditional kasavu saree, pattu pavada, kasavu mundu and juba, the increased rush and traffic in town as people go about their Onam shopping, the sales and offers everywhere; and I feel a twinge of regret that I am not home. Though I have never laid a pookalam (floral decorations), or participated in singing and dancing, or lighted crackers, or seen any vallam kalli (boat race) as part of Onam celebration, I have never missed an Onasadhya. An OnaSadhya is a lavish feast of 20 to 30 vibhavangal (dishes) served on a banana leaf; tropical vegetables of all kinds, steamed, sautéed or fried, mostly with coconut in some form or the other and curry leaves; parippu (cooked lentils) and ghee, sambar (lentils and vegetables cooked with spices), rasam (tangy tomato based soup), pulisseri (sweet and sour curd based cu

Summary

  • Cuisine: kerala
  • Course: side dish
  • Cooking Time: 30 mins

Ingredients

3 cups cabbage , finely sliced
1 small onion , finely sliced
3 – 4 green chilies , sliced into thick round pieces
1/2 cup coconut , shredded
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 tablespoon urad dal / uzhunnu parippu / black gram
sprig 1 curry leaves
1 tablespoon coconut oil
To taste, salt

Steps

  1. Heat oil in a wok. Toss in the mustard seeds, and let them splutter. Then add the black gram, and let them brown a bit.
  2. Add the onion followed by the green chili and saute. When the onion is tender, add the cabbage, turmeric powder, curry leaves and salt. Mix well and cover and cook till the cabbage is tender.
  3. Make a well in the centre of the cabbage and add the shredded coconut. Cover the coconut with the cabbage, put on the lid and cook for a couple of minutes more. Stir so that cabbage and coconut come together.
  4. Remove from heat and serve with hot rice.

Pathichu Olarthiyathu is another stir fry recipe from Kerala wherein the vegetables are fried in coconut oil till they are thoroughly cooked. It uses a lot more of oil than a thoran and coconut slices are added instead of shredded coconut. Check out the recipe for beans pathichu olarthiyathu here.

Adjust cooking time according to the vegetable you use.

Meanwhile, check out the recipe for avial here. I cannot imagine an Onam without avial. 🙂

Enjoy!

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