A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

The sadya saga

Posted by Pepper on September 10, 2014

This year, I had all intentions of celebrating Onam. By celebrating, I mean treating myself to a full blown sadya over the weekend. Yes, my idea of celebration always begins with good food. Anyway, there were two reasons I really wanted the sadya. One is obviously a craving for an authentic Keralite meal (Is Keralite even a word?). Two is because I thought it would be a good idea to focus on celebrating festivals that are not native to either of our communities.

I know that does sound a little crazy. Given the very diverse backgrounds Mint and I come from, it is hard enough to keep track of all festivals celebrated by our respective communities. Let alone focus on others. We tried in the first year to actually observe and celebrate every little festival from both our sides, but then neither Mint nor I seemed motivated enough to keep track, so we gave up.

The only two festivals we celebrate are Diwali and Christmas. And that too because I insist we do. Mint is most unenthusiastic when it comes to festivals. He started taking an active interest in lighting up the house for Diwali and setting up a Christmas tree only after I came into his life. Prior to that, he cared about nothing other than all the food the festivals made him privy to.

If I had to be honest, I’ll admit that neither of us care too much about ‘tradition’. We don’t set up corners and do any kind of pujas. We don’t care to make any kind of sweets on auspicious occasions. We only focus on eating sweets prepared by others. We don’t garland our main doors on festivals. We do nothing. Instead, we just pick stuff that we find fun. I love doing the rangoliΒ onΒ Diwali because I think playing with powdered colours is fun. Drawing patterns is fun. Lighting up your home is fun. The Christmas tree and all the gifts are fun. Everything that we find tiresome is conveniently skipped.

This year, I wanted to make Onam fun for us as well. I wanted to have a good pookalam but unfortunately I didn’t prepare well enough. On the last minute, I didn’t know where to get the flowers from. So I thought we should atleast enjoy a good sadya. When I spoke to the sister about it, I was surprised she had no idea of what I was talking about. A conversation with the BFF went the same way. They had never heard of the word ‘sadya‘. Sigh.. As Indians, how ignorant we are of each other’s culture..

So for those of you who do not know what I am talking about, here is a small explanation. Sadya is basically a big vegetarian meal traditionally served on a banana leaf. It is native to the state of Kerala. This feast is prepared on all special occasions. And Onam celebrations will obviously be considered incomplete without the traditional sadya.

Since I didn’t believe any of us were qualified enough to prepare the sadya at home, we decided to look for restaurants that served one. But the only one Mint found was ridiculously expensive. Now, reckless spending is a thing of our past. Ever since we’ve bought the house, we have to be very cautious about the way we spend. So both Mint and I thought the meal wasn’t worth the price.

But then I kept getting haunted by the thought of missing the sadya. So I told Mint we should forget about the money and just go for it. The sister seemed quite eager too. But Mint sounded so disinclined, it got me mad. “What? I thought we both agreed it was too expensive. Fine. We’ll go for it if you really want to, but I don’t think it is worth it”.

That was all it took for me to throw a fit. I sulked. I blamed him for killing my joy. For making me feel all deflated. For ruining my weekend. For not understanding how much I looked forward to it. For being too calculative. It went on. Obviously, he couldn’t understand how or why I was blaming him. “But you said to me yourself that it wasn’t worth it. How would I know you changed your mind so suddenly. And I didn’t say we won’t go. I only said I don’t think it is worth it”

“I know I said we shouldn’t go at first but then I told you later that I think it makes sense to go, but you sounded so blah. How do you think I will enjoy my meal now? I won’t be able to eat in a guilt free way because you don’t think it is worth it. What is the point in going if you feel that way”. I knew I was unreasonable, but who is to stop me at such times? So Mint softened his stand and said we should forget about all that happened and just leave. But no. I was adamant. I refused to go. And I refused to absolve him of the blame.

So we continued getting mad at each other. It went on for a while. Until good sense prevailed and we made up and decided to finally go. But we had only 30 minutes to reach the place before it shut. Our ridiculous argument had taken away all our time. So as usual, we rushed. None of us bothered to change our clothes. We ran to the car. We drove as fast as we could. As luck would have it, the GPS took us through a ‘No Entry’ and we had to drive some more to take a U turn. Then when we finally got there, we couldn’t find a parking spot. There was chaos but we managed to reach in the nick of time. Phew. So much for sadya.

And here it is. The very wonderful meal that we had after all the drama. And yes, that little chubby hand belongs to the sister. It is her using the spoon. Blasphemous, I know. But what to do, the sister has never learnt to eat with her hand.


18 Responses to “The sadya saga”

  1. R's Mom said

    hahahaha! Finally you ate a Sadya..we had a mini sadya at home..infact I remembered Mint since I was making Sambhar..but RD wasnt there so didnt really go about inviting you guys.. :):)

    You should have gone to Manis in Matunga..heard they are really good πŸ™‚

    • Pepper said

      LOL.. RM, you’re telling us about Mani’s? πŸ˜› That’ like our adda… our most favourite place. And you’ve only ‘heard’ about it? You have to go! And yes, we didn’t go there that day because it was too far and my sources told me there was a never ending wait already. We didn’t think we’d make it in time.

  2. Boiling said

    Ha ha I am unenthusiastic about festivals as well except for the food. I am so not into following rituals but I definitely do not mind picking up the ones that sound fun. But isn’t that the point? Who said we have to do all the not-so.fun parts of rituals?

  3. smdeea11 said

    I cannot think beyond this sadya right now, everytime I see the picture I forget my comment.
    I love whatever you wrote :D, don’t fight with Mint and *drool*

  4. That looks so yummy! We had Sadya at a mallu temple in Lonavala(where I was doing my BE). Half of my friends are Mallu and one BFF invited us to Dussera celebrations. He is a Lonavala native. The payasam was so good!

  5. Bhavani said

    I love celebrating festivals. I loved it as a kid and I see the same excitement in my kids when I say it is Krishna’s Bday or Ganapathi’s Bday etc. So we celebrate all festivals including Thanks Giving and Christmas.

    Having said that we never celebrated Onam at home as a kid and obviously no inclination as I grew up. But this past weekend had the best Onam celebration at a friend’s place. Imagine a proper Sadya on Fake Banana Leaf being served here in th Bay Area. It was organized by a few Mallu friends and was so so awesome!!

    And regarding your arguments and finally going…..I can so relate to it..I say one place..hubby shows no interest..I sulk..he agrees….I refuse..finally we end up going….:)))

    Glad you finally went and had a good time..


  6. srividhya said

    Great, so how was the sadya? We couldn’t have it this time though 😦

  7. I am so glad you did decide to go at the end, Pepper. Oh and our argument would have been on similar lines…especially the feeling too guilty to enjoy it statement. I laughed when I read it as it exactly what I would say. Love that you guys embraced a custom alien to both of you

  8. tinu said

    So, did u like our sadya… How many payasam were there?

  9. Thisisme said

    Thats soo nice πŸ™‚

    n though i also did not know what sadya meant..in kannada it means by gods grace…
    the plate of sadya is very familiar for me..this is how food is served in weddings n all other religious functions at our place in banaglore as well as marathi household..the server first serves, pickles..some salt on the side,,,then salad..then dry vg sabzi..tari wali sabzi..chawal..poori ..dahi chawal n sweet n what not πŸ™‚

  10. quite an eventful day! πŸ˜›
    BTW I love this platter which I tasted a few months back when I was in Kerela πŸ™‚

  11. Did you have the ada payasam? It’s heaven served on the banana leaf.

    • Pepper said

      No. We didn’t. That’s what Mint said. This meal was overpriced considering it didn’t cover the length and breath of the sadya, but never mind. It was the best we could get and we did enjoy it.

  12. That’s a sadya ‘saga’ indeed. Glad you guys finally managed to make it. πŸ™‚

    LOL – I have never ever seen anyone eating a banana-leaf meal with a spoon. Sorry, don’t mean to offend your sis, but just saying.

    You sound so much like me in the unreasonable fight you had with Mint. πŸ˜›

    The concept of festivals that you guys follow is so much like mine – have fun. No too much of sticking to traditions. That has started changing lately, though. Old age settling in… πŸ˜€

    • Pepper said

      Please go right ahead and laugh out loud at my sis. It is hilarious to see her using a spoon on a banana leaf. You’ve no idea how much fun we make of her πŸ˜€ Still she doesn’t ever try using her hand 😐

      Haha.. can also somewhat relate to the old age setting in..

  13. Santulan said

    I should not have clicked on this page.. The picture made me hungry 😦

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