February 17, 2007 | 21 Comments

… Coconutty Veggies

Every Keralite worth his or her coconut, including Bee, looks forward to Onasadhya. It’s the annual feast to commemorate the Onam harvest festival.

You sit on the floor cross-legged, a banana leaf is kept in front of you, and the goodies start raining down in quick succession.
Keralites of all religions celebrate Onam, and the Onasadhya has atleast a dozen components, all vegetarian, many vegan. From the pappadam, which is the first item to be placed on the leaf, to ona payasam, which is the last, the menu includes atleast 20 items, all made from scratch. After your meal, when you try to untangle your legs (which have probably gone numb) and get up, you feel like a sedated elephant.

In the good old days where large homesteads had a huge annual celebration involving the whole clan, 20 items would have been considered an insult. There were about 64 mandatory dishes, we are told.

At that time three banana leaves were served one under the other to accommodate all the dishes. How exactly they were accommodated in the tummy…is a food for thought!

(photo from here)

Of the whole array of Onasadhya preparations, Bee’s favourites are erissheri, plantain chips, and ada pradhaman.

Erissheri is usually prepared with yam, plantain, pumpkin, or a combo. It can also be cooked with raw jackfruit, bread fruit, snake gourd, drumsticks, or drumstick leaves. Some versions (esp. those from southern Kerala) include lentils, but the Nair version doesn’t.

What’s vital to the dish, however, is the process of frying the coconut in the end to season the dish. This imparts a unique flavour and aroma to this curry.


5 cups skinned and cubed veggies (we used yellow pumpkin)
½ cup fresh or frozen grated coconut
1.5 tsps. cumin seeds
3 dry red chillies
1 green chilli
½ tsp. tumeric powder

For Seasoning
1.5 tsp. brown mustard seeds
1 tablespoon urad dal (split black lentils)
2 dry red chillies
3 tablespoons grated coconut
2 tablespoons oil (for authentic flavour, use coconut oil)

6-8 curry leaves

1. Boil the veggies with 1.5 cups water, salt and turmeric powder until almost cooked.
2. Grind the coconut, red and green chillies and cumin to a fine paste with ¼ cup water.
3. Add it to the cooked veggies and bring to a boil.
4. Adjust seasoning and water. If it is too thin, cook it some more until the curry makes a thick coating on the veggies, or add a teaspoon of rice flour to thicken it.
4. Heat 2 tsps. of the oil. Add the urad dal, and let it become golden. Add the red chillies and mustard seeds. They should start popping right away. Pour this over the curry.
5. Take the remaining oil and fry the coconut until is it a caramel colour. Add this to the curry.
6. Top with the curry leaves.

Usually served with Rose Matta rice, pappadam and mango pickle.

Our entry for Nupur’s A to Z of Indian Vegetables at One Hot Stove

This traditional family recipe is our entry for My Dhaba’s Feed a Hungry Child Campaign as well.

Images of Kerala

Onam recipes

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  1. Nupur says:

    What a delicious dish! Thank you for this valuable contribution to the series…it perfectly captures the spirit of the event in showcasing Indian regional vegetable dishes. You are awesome!

    it’s an honour to be able to participate in your event, nupur.

  2. sandeepa says:

    Hi Bee
    Nice reading about Onasadhya and also about Erisseri. Is this had on the day of Onam ?
    Nice picture too is served as part of the Onam festival meal. It is a simple dish to prepare and we make it when we feel like it! – bee

  3. Mamatha says:

    What a lovely site you have. Thanks for all the informative posts. Will be back for more.

    Best wishes,

    glad you like it, mamatha. hope to see you around.

  4. Cristen says:

    Wow. I love Indian cuisine! This looks wonderful.

  5. Gini says:

    Entammo! Looking great! What a great pick for the event, and I couldn’t think of anything for the letter E. Glad you made it.

  6. Arundathi says:

    Nice!! I love Erissery. I’ve made it several times but its never like my mother-in-law’s, and my husband, obviously, wants that! :) Will try this recipe. Mmmm!!

    Let us know how it turned out..

  7. @ says:

    Hello! first time here, love your blog, the layout, your writing and the recipes (was drooling over your fresh bread a few min ago!)
    Anyway, wanted to say – this sounds so similar to avial – except for red chilis, and the yogurt…I’ll try this out soon..thanks for sharing!

    Thanks for visiting. That’s true – Avial is the tamilian cousin of this dish ;-) – Jai

    wrong. bee here. aviyal is malayali, not tamilian. tamilians learnt it from us.

  8. bilbo says:

    sedated elephant sounds way too funny.

    64 dishes………….. how did they fit on the banana leaves. I am not even gonna think abt the tummy

    The pic looks inviting though.

  9. asha says:

    Hi Bee.Now I know how a real Erissery looks like!;D

    I couldn’t think any E dishes and made my “own version” of Erissery!!!

    Love the color,thanks.

    i saw your version. i think cauliflower would make a good erissheri. i’ll try it. – bee

  10. musical says:

    Erissheri, yum :) . This along with Kaalan is my favorite from Onam-Sadhya. THANKS :) .

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  16. Raaga says:

    Made this today… came out great. I took a picture… will post it sometime… thanks :)

  17. bobby foster says:

    thanks – i will try some recipes, purchased ingredients at

    will let you know

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