January 23, 2021

Sreedevi Nampyar on Onam

This is our third and final story on Onam special series. Meet Sreedevi Nampyar, who is a mum and a journalist at Malayala Manorama. Based in Kerala Sreedevi says, “ Memories are always special…especially for a girl, from a small village in the northern corner of Kerala.

As there was not many occasions except family weddings and festivals to celebrate, Onam was always special…

It was ten days of freedom…. No restrictions to go out…Each day was special as it had the journey to collect flowers…with friends and cousins. There was no compound walls, no closed gates…each plant flowered for us. After collecting, we used to divide the flowers.

Now, after many years, it’s changed.  You live in a place far from your parents and in-laws and hardly finds time to meet both and still want to celebrate each festival in its fullest.

And for Onam, you have to buy flowers! Then rush to the in-laws for the preparation and then after lunch rush back to office.

My five year old son asks me why we make the pookkalam(flower carpet,like rangoli) each day. I could not tell him to go to neighbors to pluck flowers.  When I say Amma used to divide  and share flowers with friends, he asks why, you will get less flowers then….

Still, I need him to know all these….so that when he grow up, he could at least remember that his Amma wanted him to know that by sharing, what we get will be less, but the joy is doubled… And there more precious things in this world.”

Sreedevi has also shared with us a recipe for the festive occasion.

Receipe for Kalan-curry with yam, raw banana and sour curd

Raw Plantain/Banana /Pachakkaya : 1 (medium sized)

Tender Yam/Chenna : ½ cup /115 grms

Thick Sour Yogurt : 2 cups/1/2 litre (stirred well)

Turmeric Powder : 1 tsp

Red Chilli Powder : a pinch

Black Pepper Powder : 1 tsp

Roasted Fenugreek Seeds powder : ½ tsp (dry roast and powdered)

Ghee /Clarified Butter

1 tspCurry Leaves : a few leaves

Salt to taste

 To Grind

Grated Coconut : ½ cup

Cumin Seeds : ½ tsp

Green Chillies : 4-5 nos

For Seasoning :

Mustard Seeds : 1 tsp

Whole Dry Red Chillies : 3

Coconut Oil : 1 tsp

Curry leaves : few


Wash and cut the vegetables into square pieces. Grind the grated coconut, cumin seeds, green chillies with little yogurt to a thick paste and keep it aside.(Note: Do not add water while grinding.)Dissolve the pepper powder in ½ cup of water; strain the water and cook the vegetables in pepper water with turmeric powder and red chilli powder till the water dries; now add the salt and curry leaves and mix well.

Add 1 tsp ghee and combine well.  Add the grounded coconut paste and mix well. Lower the flame till it boils. Add the yoghurt and mix well. Add curry leaves and leave the vessel closed.

In a frying pan, heat the oil and add the mustard seeds. When these start to splutter, add the rest of the seasoning ingredients and fry till the chilies turn dark brown. Pour the seasoning to the kaalan and cover the dish. Let the flavor set..

You can serve this as a curry to be accompanied with rice.

This dish is part of Onam sadya

Happy Onam….


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