Olan - one of the items in my daughter’s small list of favorites. Olan is a very simple side dish made of Ash gourd, Pumpkin, a handful of black eyed beans, one or two chilies, simmered in coconut milk with a dash of coconut oil. It forms an important part of any Sadya. Though this curry does not make use of any spices the right proportion of all the ingredients makes it very delicious.
Commonly, Olan is prepared using the Ash gourd/winter melon and cowpeas. But my mother and MIL both prepare using a combination of both Winter melon and Pumpkin. My mother also a prepares a version with only wintermelon and few yard long beans instead of cowpeas. I guess, every part of Kerala has its own version. My SIL who is from Trivandrum, tells me that her mom, adds, even carrots and potatoes and uses Moong beans instead of cowpeas.
Serves - 4
- Ash gourd – 3 Cup, chopped
- Pumpkin – 3 Cup, chopped
- Cowpeas/Karamani – 1/4 cup
- Green Chilly – 1 or 2
- Thin Coconut Milk – 1 cup
- Thick Coconut Milk - 1/2 cup
- Coconut Oil – 1 tbsp
- Jaggery a little
- Salt to taste
- Pressure cook the Black eyed beans and keep aside. (Soaking the beans for a few hours helps in cooking faster).
- Remove skin and cut ash gourd and pumpkin into 1 ½ inch thin square pieces. Slit the green chilly.
- Now in a wide pan, put the ash gourd pieces at the bottom and then put the pumpkin pieces. Add the green chilly. Add the think coconut milk and cook on medium flame till the vegetables are almost cooked.
- Drain the water from the cooked cowpeas, add it to the gourds, with little jaggery and salt to taste. Allow this to boil, uncovered till olan becomes a little thick.
- Remove from heat and add coconut milk and coconut oil. Mix well. (Take care not to mash the vegetables too much while stirring, though usually the pumpkin does get mashed)
Yummy olan is ready to be savored with hot white rice and sambar.