I am back from a week-long, too-short, too-hectic vacation to India. I visited both Chennai and Kottayam and had a gluttonous 6 days in Kottayam, where my mom cooked every possible dish that I missed while in Singapore.
A lot of stuff has happened in this one week. I have 675 new posts to catch up on in my Reader, had to wade through close to a hundred emails and this doesn't include my work email and other pending stuff! Like they say, I am going to need another vacation to get over this one!
Anyway, onto the recipe now. I made this a while back and almost posted it a few times. Olan is an essential dish in the traditional Kerala Onam Sadya and even for wedding sadya. The dish is mild, flavoured only with coconut milk, jeera and green chillies. Its not strong enough to be the only dish in your meal so I would recommend pairing it with some spicy kuzhambu or theeyal to bring out the taste of the olan.
KERALA OLAN RECIPE | ONAM SADYA RECIPES
3/4 cup black-eyed beans
1 cup pumpkin, cubed
3 - 4 green chillies
1.5 cups coconut milk
1/2 tsp Jeera / jeerakam powder
Salt to taste
2 tsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
4 shallots sliced thin (optional)
A few curry leaves
How to Make Olan
1. Soak the beans for atleast 5 hours and pressure cook for 3 whistles in 3 cups water. Set aside. (I have once done this without soaking it and it came out fine. I am sure it depends on the kind of beans, the place and other factors so please soak them to be on the safer side)
2. Add the cubed pumpkin, slit green chillies, jeera powder and a little bit salt into a pan with 1 cup water and let it cook on a low fire until soft. Cook closed for best results but check to make sure it doesn't get too mushy. This shouldn't take more than 5-7 mins.
3. Add the beans and 1/2 cup coconut milk to the cooked pumpkin pieces. At this stage, adjust water so that the curry is not too watery or dry. Ideally, there should be enough liquid to cover the pieces. Cook for another 4 mins or so on low fire. If you feel the curry is too watery, add 1 tsp rice flour mixed with 2 tbsp water and mix well.
4. Add the rest of the coconut milk, adjust salt and heat through for not more than 2 mins. Remove from fire.
5. Heat oil and add all the ingredients for tempering. Once the shallots turn a golden brown (if using, otherwise just wait for the mustard seeds to pop), add it to the curry. Mix well and serve hot.
- Back home, my mom makes this with ashgourd (kumbalanga) and cowpeas (vanpayar). This is said to the more authentic version, the one that we see in Kerala Sadya. The reason why pumpkin is not used or is used in addition to ashgourd is because of the other important dish in a sadya that already uses pumpkin - erissery.
- You can use a mix of ashgourd and pumpkin, mix of yellow and white pumpkin or only yellow pumpkin, like I have done. Even with the beans there is a lot of flexibility. Cowpeas (Vanpayar) is the most common but sometimes people add the pods from yardlong beans (achinga payar).