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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.
  1. Soak the red cowpeas/ black-eyed beans overnight and cook till soft but firm.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Mix just before serving. When mixing, the cooked vegetable may break into smaller pieces appearing a little mushy. This is acceptable.
  5. Serve warm as a side dish along with rice, sambhar and pappadum.