Foodies cutting across social and racial divides have a lot to cheer this Onam, the state festival of Kerala to be celebrated Monday.
A lavish online spread of 25 Onam ritual dishes will enable Malayalees and gourmet cooks across the world to plan their personal Onam feast or Sadya at home with the help of a master chef.
Traditional Onam dishes like inchi thair, manga pachadi, ada pradhaman, naranga curry (lime pickle), kaliyadakka (cheeda)", white kichadi, pazhapayasam, paalpayasam and puli inchi posted on the special online classroom of Indiavideo, a Kerala-specific portal, can be cooked with an audio-video guide.The Sadya is a vegetarian platter comprising richly flavoured curries and sweetmeats that have been cooked for centuries during Onam.
The culinary classroom has been conceived with the help of Kerala Tourism. The capsules walk the learners through all the processes. It lists cooking methods, ingredients and the time taken to cook the dishes.
Master chef Laila Venu Kumar gives advice in English on the nuances of the recipes and the right way to cook to cater to a global audience.
Inchi thair or ginger curry - an easy-to-make Onam curry - needs finely-chopped ginger, green chillies, curd, ginger-chilli mixture and salt to taste. "Grind the ginger and green chillies for a second so that they are half ground. Mix all the ingredients in curd - to get the pungent flavour," Laila Venu Kumar says.
The cooking time is barely 30 minutes. Most of the dishes are simple and can be cooked with ingredients available at home or in the neighbourhood markets.
"Nearly 1.85 million Keralites work outside Kerala. The site aims to help them - especially the GenY who are not familiar with the traditional Onam dishes - to lay their own festival table," editor of Indiavideo M.R. Hari told IANS.
Hari said Onam cuisine was becoming popular the world over - "even among those who do not belong to Kerala, but possess a palate for tangy, spicy and delicately flavoured food".
"As Onam is a harvest festival, at the core of the festival is a sumptuous feast. The highlight of the platter is an array of sweetmeat that is offered to the god and special curries that are not part of the daily menu," he said.
Onam is a harvest festival that lasts for four to 10 days. Hindu mythology and scriptures say the festival marks the return of the King Mahabali to his home from his kingdom of Patala where he was banished by Lord Vishnu in a battle.