‘Onam Sadhya’ ! This is something that we start to hear weeks before the actual day of Thiruonam and this is probably the only reason for excitement for non-Keralites during this festival.
Advertisements of pictures of tempting Sadhya on Banana leaf start appearing at least a week before the festival in all newspapers and social media. I have been drooling looking at them, since then. It has been a couple of weeks since I have taken a resolution to cut down on my eating out and true to that, haven’t eaten out since then. After going back and forth on whether I should eat out today, I decided to take Onam as a valid excuse to eating out 😉
After weighing different options, and reading reviews of various restaurants, decided to try Onam Sadhya at Kumarakom in Velachery, as it is the closest to my place. We reached the place around 02:00PM, pretty much our normal lunch time. I was expecting the place to be busy, but not packed. Couldn’t believe so many were waiting for their turn to eat. Most of them were Keralites, all dressed up in their traditional Onam attitre and eagerly waiting for their names to be called. I thought Onam was a very homely affair where people prepare a grand feast at home and the whole family enjoys it together. Probably Keralites in Chennai have a reason to do so – they are either away from family, or they are nuclear families who couldn’t make it to their native for the festival or they are just too busy to cook, whatever! Thinking about it, these days even Bakshanam and sweets for Deepavali and other festivals are purchased at sweet shops and not prepared at home. Could be something like that, just plain lack of time. Waited for about fifteen minutes, no sign of making an eye contact with the person who called out names. The AC was almost non-existent with so many people in the restaurant. Clearly there were about thirty people waiting before me. It did not make sense to wait any further, decided to look elsewhere.
It was already 2:20PM, and kids were beginning to feel hungry, and I was equally hungry too. I was thinking of other options for Onam Sadhya. I did not want to try a non-Keralite restaurant for Onam Sadhya, so skipped a few options in Adayar. We had to meet a friend in Vadapalani in the evening and that’s when Copper Kitchen came to my mind. I knew it was famous for its Arabian fare, and the owners were from Kerala, quite similar in cuisine to Zaitoon, so decided to take a chance. I had also seen their advertisements earlier. Thanked my stars, the road was absolutely free, reached Vadapalani in about 15 minutes from Velachery, which was nothing less than a miracle.
It was almost 3:00PM and we were seated immediately. We were probably the only two or three tables that were occupied at that time. Wife and kids were not particular about this traditional Kerala meal, and they opted for other stuff. I was still pretty focussed to have Onam Sadhya. 🙂 The service was a bit slow, understandable since it was quite late for lunch. Anyway, a big banana leaf was placed which set the expectations sky-high. Then the items started to come one by one. Unlike the ‘advertisement’ pictures, the individual dishes were not served in small cups, but directly on the banana leaf. I was like, ‘okay, lets see how it goes’. All the dishes were served and somehow it felt a ‘little less’ compared to the pictures I’ve seen. I clicked a few photos of the food and then started to eat.
From my little knowledge of Kerala food, I could make out Sharkara Upperi, Kerala Rice, Sambhar, Rasam, Avial, Kaalan/Oolan, Thoran, Pappadam, spiced buttermilk and a couple of desserts like Paalada Pradhaman and Parippu Pradhaman (I think). Some obviously missed items were banana chips, Parippu, kichadi, pachadi, puliyinji (though there was something similar). Overall, the food tasted good. Absolutely no denying that ! My expectation was more than just good food. Coming back to the drool-worthy pictures of Onam Sadhya, I was expecting it to look like a ‘grand’ traditional meal. So this was more like ordering an ‘Unlimited’ meals in a restaurant and was a bit of a disappointment. The pricing of Rs 350 for this meal looked a little on the higher side.
Family was in no mood to try this meal, so they went with their choices – Chicken 65 boneless, Singapore Chicken Fried Noodles, Chicken Biryani, and Prawns Masala. After 5 minutes, we were told Chicken Biryani was not available and he suggested Malabar Chicken Biryani and we readily agreed. I should mention, it took about 25 minutes to be served, and by that time, I almost finished my sadhya. Everyone was terribly hungry and jumped on the chicken 65 as soon as it came, it was tasty. I did not have the time to click a picture of it. I checked if the Prawns Masala was semi-gravy and the waiter assured me it was. What we got was a complete bowl of gravy with probably 5-6 pieces of prawn and it was priced at Rs 230. Malabar Biryani tasted very different compared to the normal Biryani, but it was wonderful. The Chicken noodles was good too, kids finished it in no time. Overall, the food was tasty and prawns masala was the only dampener.
Too stuffed for desserts, asked for the check and it set us back by about 1.2K.
Overall a decent place to visit. Since it is not very close to my place, nor in the area that I frequent, I don’t think I would be visiting this place often.