Keralites gear up to celebrate Onam

Filed on September 8, 2011
Keralites gear up to celebrate Onam

Expatriates from the South Indian state of Kerala, who form half of the Indian expatriate community in the UAE, are fully geared up to celebrate their harvest festival, Onam.

The celebrations are better and bigger this time as the most important day of the 10-day festival, Thiruvonam, falls tomorrow, a Friday and the occasion has arrived after the fasting month of Ramadan following a gap of few years.

From supermarkets and shopping centres, to restaurants and jewellery shops, hundreds of commercial outlets, mainly those catering to the Indian community, have come up with various Onam offers and plans.

Keralites, or Malayalees as they are also known, are flooding the stores to make purchases for the festival which is celebrated by all members of the community irrespective of their religion.

Onam is celebrated to mark the mythical homecoming of King Mahabali, during whose reign the state known as ‘God’s Own Country’ is said to have witnessed the golden era. People of Kerala welcome the king in a symbolic way by arranging flower carpets and with traditional dances and games so as to give him the impression that they are happy as in his time.

They wear new, traditional outfits and jewellery and also prepare the sumptuous Onasadhya, the grand feast that forms the most important part of the celebration. Served on banana leaves, a typical Onasadhya will include more than a dozen items along with rice, all made of freshly imported vegetables from India.

According to reports from Kerala, the state has imported nearly 5,000 tonnes of vegetables worth Dh12.75 million for Onam celebrations in the Gulf countries. Banana leaves and vegetables are being imported from Oman, as well.

Malayalees living in the Gulf countries are known for their elaborate Onam celebrations which will go on throughout the month of Chingam, and sometimes even later.

Mega events, television shows and radio programmes are part of their celebrations.

A time to feast

As Keralities across the globe get ready to welcome King Mahabali back into their lives to celebrate the harvest festival of Onam, we bring you a few recipes to try out at home



  • Cucumber: 250 gms
  • Snake gourd: 250 gms
  • Long runner beans: 50 gms
  • Drumstick: 3 pieces
  • Elephant yam: 250 gms
  • Carrots: 2
  • Raw banana: 100 gms
  • Turmeric powder: ½ tbsp
  • Chilly powder: 1 tbsp
  • Salt: As required
  • Curry leaves: A few
  • Sour curd: ½ cup


  • Raw mango: 100 gms
  • Coconut: 1 (grated)
  • Green chillies: 50 gms
  • Cumin seeds: 10 gms
  • Small onions: 6 pieces
  • Coconut oil: 4 tbsp


Cut all the vegetables in the same length, about an inch per piece.

Place them along with the turmeric powder, chilli powder, salt and sufficient water over medium fire. Do not add too much water as vegetables should not be over cooked.

Grind together grated coconut, cumin seeds, small onions, green chillies and curry leaves into a coarse paste.

When the vegetables are cooked, add the raw mango pieces and cook them with the lid off.

When the mango pieces are cooked and the water starts to evaporate, add the coconut mixture and mix well.

If you are using curd, add it along with the coconut mixture.

When the vegetables are dry, add the coconut oil and curry leaves and mix well.

Remove from flame and serve.



  • Bengal gram Dhal: ½ cup
  • White gram Dhal: 2 tbsp
  • Grated Coconut: ½ cup
  • Pumpkin, snake gourd, long runner beans, yam and cucumber: ¼ kgs (whole)
  • Drumstick: ½ cup
  • Turmeric powder: ¼ tbsp
  • Green chillies: 3
  • Salt: To taste
  • Coconut oil: ¼ cup
  • Mustard: 1 tbsp
  • Dry chillies: 3
  • Curry leaves: 2 sprigs
  • Ghee: 1 tbsp


Grind the grated coconut with turmeric powder and green chillies into a fine paste.

Cook bengal gram dhal in pressure cooker for two whistles, along with salt and water.

Cut the vegetables into small pieces and steam them.

Heat oil; season mustard seeds, white gram dal, dried red chillies and curry leaves.

Add the ground coconut mixture. Sauté for some time, till the water dries.

Add the cooked vegetables, salt and bengal gram dhal to it and simmer on low heat.

Fry ¼ cup grated coconut in one tablespoon of ghee till golden brown.

Season the Koottu Curry with it and mix well.



  • Ripe Pumpkin: 2 cups (sliced)
  • Red oriental beans: ½ cup (soaked overnight)
  • Coconut milk: 1 cup
  • Oil: 2 tbsp
  • Dry chillies: 2
  • Mustard: 1 tbsp
  • Curry leaves: 2 sprigs
  • Salt: To taste

Make a paste of the following ingredients.

  • Grated Coconut: 1 cup
  • Small onion: 1
  • Cumin: ½ tbsp
  • Turmeric powder: ½ tbsp
  • Green chillies: 2-3
  • Garlic pods: 2


Cook the pumpkin with beans in enough water and salt.

Add the ground paste, boil for some time and keep it aside.

Heat some oil in a pan, season mustard seeds, curry leaves and dry chillies and add the thick coconut milk.

Pour the mix into the cooked pumpkin curry and stir well.



  • Yam: 100 gms (sliced)
  • Raw banana: 1 small
  • Green chilies : 3 (slit)
  • Yoghurt: ½ ltr
  • Grated coconut: ½
  • Cumin seeds: ½ tbsp
  • Pepper powder: 1 tbsp
  • Water: 1 cup
  • Turmeric powder: ½ tbsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Fenugreek: ½ tbsp (fried-powdered)
  • Ghee: 3 tbsp
  • Red chillies : 2 (split in two)
  • Mustard powder: 1 tbsp
  • Curry leaves: 2 sprigs


Boil the sliced banana and yam along with green chillies in salted water.

Grind the coconut and cumin to a smooth paste without adding water. Keep aside.

Mix the pepper powder in half cup of water and strain it through a clean cloth.

Cook the vegetables in the same water. Add the turmeric powder and salt. Stir well.

When all the water has evaporated, add one tablespoon ghee. Pour the yogurt and mix well.

Lower the flame. When the curd boils and becomes thick, add the ground coconut mixture and fenugreek powder into it.

Stir well and bring to a boil

Remove from fire and season with mustard, red chillies and curry leaves.



  • Yellow cucumber: 1 Kg
  • Coconut: ½ (paste)
  • Cumin: 1 tsp (paste)
  • Green chilli: 4 (paste)
  • Mustard seeds: 1 tsp
  • Urad daal: 1 tsp
  • Dry red chilli: 4
  • Curry leaves: As required
  • Curd: 3 cups
  • Coconut oil: 150 gms
  • Salt to taste


Boil the yellow cucumber; squeeze out the water and keep aside.

Fry the cucumber with the cumin, coconut and chilli paste; add curd and salt to taste (stir it well).

Heat oil in a small pan, crackle mustard seeds, add curry leaves, whole red chillies broken into two and stir for a moment.

Pour this to the yoghurt and cucumber mixture and stir it untill cooked well.


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