Every festival, every celebration, even every life-event in our country requires a feast and often for an extended gathering of friends and family.Traditional dishes are cooked and often they are also eaten in the style of yore.When you take a moment to think about it, the fact that some of the food we eat dates back to over 5000 years seems a bit overwhelming. It’s a long gastronomic-history that we have inherited…a tradition that began with the people of the Indus Valley civilisation and to which the later Aryans, the Greeks, the Muslims from Persia and present day Turkey, the Mughals and latter day Europeans have all contributed. Our food may vary as per region or religion, but nearly all traditional dishes use certain common spices and flavourings. There is also the tradition of eating squatting on the floor while the meal is served on leaf-plates. In the more tropical areas like the south you have the banana-leaf-plate, in the colder regions like the north we have the ‘pattal’…sal or banyan tree leaves joined to form plates and small bowls called ‘donas’. It’s an eco-friendly, disposable-food-serving system that has some wonderful childhood associations for me. At my grandfathers house we used to love the invitations for the traditional feasts called ‘dhams’. The menu was more or less fixed as was the delicious taste yet one still enjoyed the experience of the community meal often organised in the open. Today in our rapidly increasing urban spaces these are traditions on the decline. There are heritage hospitality resorts which try to recreate those rustic experiences, yet these remain at best poor substitutes for the original. Meanwhile on the festival of Onam today many households across our country and even abroad lovingly prepare the traditional meal called ’sadhya’, and serve them on banana-leaf-platters. Having enjoyed the visual delight and savoured the taste of those colourful 23 dishes arranged for you on the bright green banana-leaf at a friends place, one is somewhat hopeful that these traditions will live on.