A Sadhya is a variety of vegetarian dishes traditionally served in Kerala during festivals, weddings and other social events. Served typically on banana leaf, this feast comprises of many dishes served as a single course, in quick succession. Anju’s café, at Ranga Shankara in JP Nagar, does one such Onam special sadhya annually, served in 3 batches starting 12pm. We booked ourselves in the first slot, and reached the venue to find a complete transformation to the urban hangout that it normally is. There were benches lined up, with paper and banana leaves spread out. There was a beautiful pookalam at the entrance, and food was being brought out in steel buckets. Men in white mundu and shirts, and ladies in traditional beautiful mundum neriyathum – white sarees with golden borders, attending to the event and serving food.

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The first batch is about to begin!

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As everyone waits.

The punctuality was notable, and the servings promptly started. The typical order is to start with pickles, various kinds of chips and papad and their versions of chutneys made of tomatoes, raw mango, ginger and more. There is mainly boiled red rice served in the Sadhya, but sometimes steamed rice is on the menu as well. Then comes the various kinds of gravies like Parippu, Sambar, Rasam, followed by various kinds of sweet dishes and payasam. The really wonderful part about this particular place hosting Sadhya is that the service is like in a family or friend’s place, warm and heartfelt. Most of the people visiting are ones who’ve been going attending the Sadhya here for years, so it’s more of old friends and colleagues catching up.

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The Sadhya Spread

The food was pretty good, with over 25 items. My favorites from the afternoon were:

Puliyunchi – A sweet and tangy chutney, usually eaten as an accompaniment. Made of ginger, tamarind and jiggery, this was unique and flavorful.

Prathaman – There were 3 kinds of payasam that were served in the Sadhya. The atypical Palada Payasam, made of rice, sugar and milk was delicious. There was another one made of banana, jaggery and coconut milk, that was both rich and sublime.

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The 3 types of Payasam

Sambar – Served with ghee and eaten with boiled rice, their version of sambar was mildly tangy and contained drum sticks, carrots, tomato.

Anju’s Cafe at Ranga Shankara, JP Nagar, served 3 batches, starting from 12 to 3, serving over 25 items that are delicious and freshly made. This sadhya is priced at Rs.520 per person. The service was prompt and quick. The batches are 1 hour long, so the eating had to be quicker than some could manage! They also had these quaint little mementos with your favorite sadhya dish name painted on it.

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Mementos!

Other places serving Sadya:

Fort Kochi, MG Road

Ente Keralam, Ulsoor

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