Onam, a harvest festival celebrated in the first month of the Kerala calendar, is marked with festive events among Malayalee Americans. But the huge draw of the festival remains the Onam Sadhya, or the grand festive meal comprising — hold your breath — 26 appetizing dishes of Kerala.
Onam, the most celebrated festival in the south Indian state of Kerala, is one of the best times to visit the region. With festivities in full swing and the “pookalam” (floral graffiti on the entryway) greeting you at every doorstep, you know that the harvest festival has a special significance for Malayalees across religions.
As the Malayalee community is now wide spread across the globe, Onam is also celebrated globally with various community events, pookalam contests, traditional dancing within the community. But the grandest event of the festival, which is celebrated in the first month of the Malayalee calendar, remains the iconic “Onam sadhya” or the Onam feast.
Traditionally consisting of more than two dozen different dishes, a special Onam meal is served with a variety of pickles, pappadum, lentils and veggies, served with red rice, buttermilk, and probably all the goodness of the earth! Those who have eaten an Onam sadhya would swear that it is the most wholesome and healthy meal.
If you are celebrating Onam in America, and do not have the luxury of thinking about whipping up dozens of dishes amid weekend laundry and cleaning chores, or if you do not have the good fortune of having a Malayalee neighbor who may extend an invitation for an Onam feast, then we give the next best option: how about trying a Kerala cuisine in one of the many eateries across the United States?
We line some of the best and most popular eateries serving authentic Kerala cuisine across both the coasts, the Midwest and the South. Go take your pick and thank us later for the best “avial” and “pulisserry” you may have tried!
Taste of Kerala Kitchen, Queens, New York
Despite New York bring the hub of every imaginable ethnic cuisine in the world, the Kerala food purists lament the lack of easy availability of Malayalee cuisine in eateries across the Big Apple. Taste of Kerala Kitchen, located in Queens, one of the most diverse South Asian neighborhoods in the city, according to many, is the go-to place for authentic Kerala cuisine. The eatery serves everything from Fish Molly to Anchovy Thoran. But its best seller remains Kerala meals. Served in a thali, the meal comprises rice, fish curry, avial, thoran, chicken or beef, pulisserry, pachadi, sambar, pickled and pappadam.
Where: Floral Park, Glen Oaks, NY
Kochi Indian Cuisine, Hightstown, New Jersey
The Greater New York area is home to a large population of immigrants from Kerala. They brought along with them not just diversity but also their food. One such outlet serving authentic dishes all the way from central Kerala is Kochi Indian cuisine. The best part is that the restaurant is hosting an Onam celebration on September 14 and 15 between 12 noon and 1.00 pm. If you are a lover of Kerala thali, then this is the place to go to celebrate Onam.
Where: Hightstown, New Jersey
Delicious Kerala Kitchen, Stafford, Texas
While the restaurant serves both North Indian as well as South Indian food, since it is Onam time, we will concentrate only on authentic Kerala cuisine offered. The restaurant will delight you with traditional dishes like “Nadan Mathi Porichatu,” which is fried sardines. There is also poori and duck curry and kappa and fish curry to choose from.
Where: Murphy Road, Stafford, TX
Pippali, New York City
While the restaurant has a wide menu featuring a lot of Indian dishes, it is the Pippali Specials that are for an Onam outing. On the menu is Fisherman’s Catch – a selection of scallops, squids and mussels cooked in coconut milk, south Indian Chettinad Duck and Jhinga. The place can be a sea food lover’s delight.
Where: 27th Street, NY, New York
Indique, Washington, DC
Immensely popular among the foodies visiting the nation’s capital, as one of the best Indian restaurants in city, Indique includes in its menu southern Indian favorites such as morel vegetable stew, asparagus poriyal, Kerala Shepherd’s pie and Kerala fish curry. The chef has also lovingly included some Kerala recipes in his “From My Hometown,” section in the menu. Also featured are Shallot potato and Telicherry beef curry. If you are looking at a fine dine experience and get the best of the Kerala cuisine, Indique can be on your list in the DC area.
Where: Connecticut Ave, Washington DC
Red Chillies the Malabar Cusine, Milpitas, CA
From gobhi manchurian to natholi fry to Malabar grilled shrimps and Travancore fried chicken, this place is getting the gourmet lovers the best of the Malabar cuisine. They have a wide selection of vegetarian, as well as from the fisherman’s cove menu to choose from.
Where: Main St, Milpitas, CA