September 12, 2008

Olan (Pumpkin and Ash Gourd/ Winter Melon in Coconut Milk)


Olan is another vegetable preparation which is very typical of Kerala. It is made of Ash Gourd (also known as Winter Melon) and Pumpkin (both very commonly available vegetables) and and a handful of cooked black-eyed beans simmered in coconut milk and then seasoned with a little coconut oil. There are no spices used with the exception of green chillies. Yet the green chillies do not make it spicy, just lend a flavour.





Despite having no spices (unusual in an Indian “curry”), this is not bland. It is very tasty, full of flavour with the slight sweetness of coconut milk. No traditional festive meal (called a "Sadhya") in Kerala is complete without an Olan.

Malayalis all over the world celebrate the festival of Onam which is a ten day long celebration with Thiruvonam (the tenth and final day of the Onam festival) being the most imprtant. This time, we aren't having a sadhya as such but I have cooked some of the dishes which are served as part of the festive lunch. Today's post Olan and though it is festive fare, it is also something that is regularly cooked in homes all across Kerala regularly. This dish is one of those which Palakkad Iyers have also adopted and made their own.





Sometimes very tender yard long beans are also added to the usual vegetables in Olan. Olan can also be made with only ash gourd or only pumpkin with all the other ingredients remaining the same.There is also a less rich version of this dish that is sometimes cooked with milk instead of coconut milk.
Olan (Pumpkin and Ash Gourd/ Winter Melon in Coconut Milk)
 
 

Ingredients:


1 1/2 cups pumpkin (matthan) cut into approx. 1” pieces and 1/4” thick

1 1/2 cups ash gourd (elavan/ kumbalanga) cut into approx. 1” pieces and 1/4” thick

1/4 cup dried red cowpeas (vanpayaru) or black-eyed beans

2 or 3 green chillies, slit lengthwise (this dish is not meant to be very spicy)

1 cup thin coconut milk

1/2 cup thick coconut milk

1 tbsp coconut oil

1 sprig curry leaves

salt to taste



Method:


Soak the red cowpeas/ black-eyed beans overnight and cook till soft but firm.


 

Put the sliced pumpkin and ashgourd in a pan and add the thin coconut milk. Keep this on the stove and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat, add the chillies, the cooked red cowpeas/ black-eyed beans, salt and allow to simmer till the vegetables are cooked while stirring occasionally.

Now add the thick coconut milk and the curry leaves. Do not allow to boil or the coconut milk will split. Mix well and then turn off the heat. The consistency of the Olan should be of a vegetable with a little gravy which is not watery yet not very thick. Pour the coconut oil in to the pan, do not mix, and cover the pan.

Mix just before serving. When mixing, the cooked vegetable may break into smaller pieces appearing a little mushy. This is acceptable.

Serve warm as a side dish along with rice, sambhar and pappadum.

26 comments:

sra said...

I quite like Olan. Had it at a friend's wedding and made it a couple of times at home. It so happens that I have either the peas or the pumpkin whenever I think of it, not both.

Curry Leaf said...

HAPPY ONAM,APARNA

arundati said...

happy onam aparna.... i made avial and keerai molagootan... :) now am off to a friend's for sadya!!

Fearless Kitchen said...

This is really interesting. I'm not sure if I've ever seen ash gourd before, but the coconut milk would make almost anything taste good to me! Enjoy your celebration!

mallugirl said...

happy onam to u.

Pearlsofeast said...

Wish U happy onam Aparna and the olan sounds delicious with coconut milk and oil.I was really mouthwatering.

Jayashree said...

Happy Onam to you. I made olan with pumpkin and ashgourd today too.

Bharti said...

Never tried this before. It sounds delicious.
Wish you a very Happy Onam!

Divya said...

My mother-in-law used to make Olan, but I failed to learn it from her, since I was busy eating it... Lovely recipe

Divya Vikram said...

Happy Onam..Nice recipe..

Cham said...

Happy Onam Aparna, Olan is my fav keralite dish , it looks yummy :)

farida said...

Interesing recipe! Is ash-gurd something like dried yogurt?

Srivalli said...

Aparna, we had a great sadhya yesterday in a restaurant..:)..but the olan they claimed, wasn't as pretty as yours...I have never tasted olan till now..so will surely try yours..I was telling my colleagues that the pictures of olan I have seen were far far beautiful....

Spices n Aroma said...

Yummmmy oolan!!
this is my first time here and i jus loved ur blog...
Jus popped into say a big hi!
happy blogging

Aparna said...

Farida,

An Ash Gourd is a vegetable also called a Winter Melon in English. It is light grren in colour, white on the inside and is covered with a thin ashy coat which comes off on your fingers, which is washed away before peeling it. Hence the name Ash Gourd.

Sunshinemom said...

Belated Onam greetings! Love olan. There is something about the taste of coconut milk that is so ummm.... heavenly!

Vij said...

hi yah
thanks for your comments on my blog. I remember seeing some event with theme "Green".. i didnt bookmark that page and now I wanna know the person who is hosting it. If you have any idea pls tell me!!!

Aparna said...

Vij,
That event where the colour is "green" is at Harini's (Sunshinemom) blog -TongueTicklers.

Nags said...

Thank you for the lovely Olan, Aparna :)

Usha said...

Your olan looks really good,there is an award for you at my blog please check it out :)

Dhanggit said...

Oh my this is the type of vegetable dish that my auntie prepares so well. I miss this kind of cooking! I love this spicy and eaten with rice of course :-)

Priti said...

Olan looking so gud...and simple recipe...Happy Belated Onam to you too :)

Srividya said...

I had olan only once at a friend's place and hated it with all my heart till I saw your recipe for it and the picture. So I have decide to remove my hate and try your wonderful appetising recipe. :)

Curry Leaf said...

There is onam event at asankhana.blogspot as well.Do try to send this

Aparna said...

It seems there is quite and "Olan" fan following amongst us. Very hearwarming.

Thanks for the info Curry Leaf.

notyet100 said...

Hi,thnks a lot for sending olan for the festival,..:-)