Celebrate Onam with Healthy Desserts for a Guilt-Free Feast

With the Onam festival just around the corner, we are ready to celebrate and indulge in the popular desserts and dishes eaten around this time. From sweet pradhaman payasam to Avial, Onam is incomplete without a large feast that is shared with loved ones. After all, it is a festival that represents the bountiful harvest and cultural heritage of Kerala. Keep reading to learn the significance of the festival and the Onam feast and learn some delicious recipes for healthy desserts that you can relish during the Onam festivities.

Significance of the Onam Feast

You can’t talk about the festival of Onam without talking about the grand Onam feast or Onam sadhya. It holds immense cultural and social significance in Kerala and is a celebration of unity, diversity, and the spirit of togetherness. The feast is an integral part of the grand Onam festival, which commemorates the return of the mythical King Mahabali and the bountiful harvest season.

The Onam feast brings not only brings communities and families together, it also transcends social barriers. The act of sharing food is a gesture of hospitality, generosity, and unity. Hence, the feast or the Onam Sadhya helps people rejoice in the abundance of nature and the warmth of human bonds.

5 Must-try Healthy Onam Desserts 

If you wish to indulge in Onam desserts without worrying about calories, then read on to know our healthy Onam dessert recommendations that only bring joy and no guilt. These desserts allow you to enjoy the sweet flavours of Onam while making healthier choices.

1. Ada Pradhaman

Ada Pradhaman is a hearty, delicious Kerala-special payasam or kheer. It is among the best gluten-free Onam desserts made from coconut milk, jaggery syrup and flavoured nuts. While Ada Pradhaman is amongst the Onam festival desserts, it can be prepared any day.

For three servings of Ada Pradhaman, use the following ingredients-

a. 1/2 cup ada

b. 1 cup jaggery

c. 1 cup thick coconut milk

d. 1/2 cup thin coconut milk

e. 1 tbsp almond butter

f. 1 tbsp coconut

g. 8 cashews

h. 1/4 tsp cardamom powder


Step 1: Soak ½ cup ada (grated coconut and rice flour) for 15 minutes in hot water and rinse.

Step 2: Boil water, add ada, cook until soft, and drain aside.

Step 3: Add 1 cup jaggery in ½ cup water and cook until the former dissolves and strain.

Step 4: Add jaggery syrup to a pan and cook until thick before adding ada.

Step 5: Cook till ada absorbs the jaggery syrup, and then add ½ cup of thin coconut milk.

Step 6: Cook for a few minutes on low flame till it thickens.

Step 7: Follow it by adding 1 cup of thick coconut milk slowly and mixing.

Step 8: Cook it for 2 minutes, and add 1/2 tsp of almond butter and ¼ tsp of cardamom powder.

Step 9: Heat ½ tsp almond butter and saute coconut pieces until slightly golden. Similarly, fry 8 cashews in the same almond butter after removing the coconut.

Step 10: Add fried coconut, cashews, and coconut to the pan, and your Ada Pradhaman, one of the top vegan Onam desserts, is ready.

2. Paal Payasam

The basic rice pudding in South Indian style, Paal Payasam, is among the renowned Onam healthy desserts made from milk and rice. Paal Payasam is one of the simplest Onam special sweets recipes imaginable. Only a handful of ingredients are used to prepare this concoction of deliciousness or low-sugar Onam sweets.

For six servings of Paal Payasam, use the following ingredients -

a. 6 cups of milk
b. ¼ cup rice
c. ¼ cup brown sugar
d. 2 tsp raisins
e. 10 cashews
f. ¼ tsp cardamom powder


    Step 1: Take a large kadhai and boil 5 cups of milk in it.
    Step 2:  Pour soaked rice in it and stir well.
    Step 3:  Cook for 15 minutes at low to medium flame till the rice grains are well cooked.
    Step 5: Now slightly mash the rice to turn the payasam creamy.
    Step 6: Add one more cup of milk to balance the consistency.
    Step 7: Put in ¼ cup of brown sugar and mix well.
    Step 8: Heat it for around 3-4 minutes or till the sugar has dissolved entirely.
    Step 9: Add the roasted nuts, ¼ tsp of cardamom powder and blend it together.
    Step 10: You are ready to enjoy one of the tastiest Onam sweets, hot or cold.

      3. Kozhukatta

      A popular snack in South India craved by both children and adults, Kozhutkatta makes it to our list of popular Onam dessert ideas. Also known as "naalu mani palaharam," it is one of the best dairy-free Onam desserts. It is delicious and easy to prepare, making it ideal for the Onam Sandhya.

      For four servings of low-calorie Onam desserts, use the following ingredients:

      a. 1 cup rice flour
      b. 1 tsp oil
      c. 2 cups water
      d. Salt as needed
      e. ½ cup grated jaggery
      f. ½ tsp cardamom powder
      g. 1 ½ cup grated coconut


        Step 1: Add water, salt, and oil to a pan and boil to prepare the dough.
        Step 2: Put rice flour into it and mix well.
        Step 3: Once it cools down, knead a soft dough.
        Step 4: Add water and jaggery in a pan and boil on medium flame to make the filling.
        Step 5: Pour and strain the melted jaggery into a bowl.
        Step 6: Heat the liquid again in a pan and add grated coconut and cardamom powder. Keep mixing till the water dries.
        Step 7: Now use the dough to make lemon-sized balls.
        Step 8: Make circular sheets using your palm to add the filling.
        Step 9: Put two to three spoons of filling in the centre, seal its edges, and turn it into a ball.
        Step 10: Put the balls into a greased steamer and steam for 10-15 minutes.
        Your heavenly Kozhukatta, one of the best vegan Onam desserts, is ready.

          4. Banana Halwa

          If you're a fan of halwa, consider forgoing the traditional flour-based recipe and experiment with bananas instead. Loaded with nutrients and renowned for their energy-boosting properties, bananas are a superb choice for crafting a delectable halwa.


          a. 4 ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
          b. 1/2 cup sugar (adjust to taste)
          c. 1/4 cup ghee (clarified butter)
          d. 1/2 cup milk
          e. 1/4 cup chopped nuts (cashews, almonds, pistachios)
          f. 1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
          g. A pinch of saffron strands (optional)
          h. A pinch of edible camphor (optional)
          i. A pinch of salt


            Step 1: Heat a heavy-bottomed pan or kadai over low-medium heat. Melt the ghee.
            Step 2: Sauté the chopped nuts until golden brown. Remove and set aside.
            In the same pan, add mashed bananas. Cook for 5-7 minutes until they turn golden.
            Step 3: Add sugar and mix well. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens and the sugar dissolves (about 10-15 minutes).
            Step 4: Stir in cardamom powder, saffron strands (if using), and a pinch of edible camphor (if using).
            Step 5: Gradually add milk while stirring continuously. Continue cooking and stirring until the mixture reaches a halwa-like consistency (about 15-20 minutes).
            Step 6: Add the roasted nuts and a pinch of salt. Stir well and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.
            Step 7: When the banana halwa thickens and the ghee separates, remove from heat.

              5. Rava Laddu

              Rava laddu, an easy and straightforward Indian sweet, is perfect for the Onam celebration. Roasted and finely ground semolina is blended with sugar, cardamom, ghee, and dried fruits. These ingredients are then shaped into round treats, adorned with nuts and edible silver leaf. Rava laddu requires minimal cooking but offers a delectable treat to be shared with loved ones.


              a. 1 cup fine semolina (rava or sooji)
              b. 1/2 cup grated coconut (fresh or desiccated)
              c. 1/2 cup jaggery (adjust to taste)
              d. 1/4 cup ghee (clarified butter)
              e. 2-3 tablespoons warm milk
              f. 1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder
              g. A handful of cashews and raisins
              h. A pinch of salt


                Step 1: Heat a pan over low to medium heat and dry roast the semolina until it turns golden brown. Ensure you stir continuously to avoid burning. 
                Step 2: In the same pan, add a teaspoon of ghee and roast the cashews and raisins until they turn golden brown.
                Step 3: Now, add the grated coconut and roast it for a few minutes until it dries out slightly and releases its aroma. Transfer it to a bowl.
                Step 4: In the same pan, add the jaggery and a couple of tablespoons of water. Heat it over low heat until the jaggery melts and forms a syrup. 
                Step 5: Add the roasted semolina, coconut, cardamom powder, and a pinch of salt to the jaggery syrup. Mix well to combine all the ingredients.
                Step 6: Add the roasted cashews and raisins to the mixture.
                Step 7: Gradually add warm milk and ghee to the mixture. Mix thoroughly until it reaches a consistency that allows you to shape laddus.

                Step 8: Add enough milk to bind the mixture.
                Step 9: Grease your palms with a little ghee and start shaping the mixture into small laddus. Press the mixture firmly while shaping to ensure the laddus hold together.
                Step 10: Allow the Rava Laddus to cool completely before storing them in an airtight container.

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                  FAQs on Onam Desserts

                  What are the common desserts for Onam?

                  Some common Onam desserts include pradhaman payasam or Onam payasam, Palada Pradhaman, Rava Laddu, Coconut Ladoo, and Neyyappam, among others.

                  What special food is eaten on Onam?

                  Onam is celebrated with a grand feast known as the ‘Onam Sadhya’ which features many different dishes with a wide range of flavours and textures that delight the senses.

                  What is the famous dessert of Kerala?

                  One of the most famous and beloved desserts of Kerala is "Payasam." Payasam or Onam Payasam is a traditional South Indian sweet dish that holds a special place in Kerala's cuisine. It is often served as a dessert during festivals, celebrations, and special occasions, including Onam.

                  What are the 26 items in Onam Sadhya?

                  Onam Sadhya typically consists of 26 essential dishes including Parippu Curry, Sambar, Rasam, Avial, Thorana, Kalan, Olan, Pachadi, Kootu Curry, Erissery, Inji Curry, Thoran, Kaalan, Puli Inji, Koottukari, Paayasam, Pradhaman, Ada Pradhaman, Banana, Pappadam, Ghee, Rice, Buttermilk, Salt, Chips, and Lime Pickle.

                  What is this native Onam dessert made with lentils and coconut milk?

                  The native Onam dessert made with lentils and coconut milk is called "Pradhaman." Pradhaman is a sweet and creamy dessert that is traditionally prepared during the Onam festival in Kerala.