Kerala, also known as God’s own country is famous for its beautiful landscapes, rich culture, lazy backwaters and of course, for its rich and aromatic spices. The typical Kerala platter consists of boiled rice, thoran, aviyal, olan, kootu, banana chips, pulisheri, pickle, rasam, sambar, curd and payasam served in a banana leaf. During the festival of Onam, a lot of other dishes are added to the lunch platter. These dishes together constitute the Onam Sadya. The tradition of Onam Sadya is quite popular due to the wide array of dishes that are served for lunch. A traditional Sadya contains at least 23 dishes. The most prominent ingredient in the majority of the dishes is coconut. Keralites absolutely love the rich texture and nutty flavour it lends to every dish.
Olan is one the most significant dishes in the sumptuous Sadya. It is a combination of ash gourd, black beans, coconut oil and curry leaves. What makes Olan so special is that it does not use any kind of spices or masalas to enhance its flavour. It relies on the flavour and the aroma that coconut lends to this dish. It is eaten during the initial course of the meal due to its mild flavour and to cleanse the palate. Below is the recipe for Olan:
Coconut oil – 2 Tsp
Ash Gourd – 300 gms
Pumpkin – 300 gms
Green Chilli – 4 to 5 pieces
Vanpayar / Black beans(cooked) – 200 gms
Coconut milk – 1 cup
Salt – as per taste
Coconut oil – 2 Tsp
Curry leaves – 8 to 10 leaves
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
a. In a pan, add the ash gourd and pumpkin along with some salt and turmeric powder. Cook it in a low flame for about 5 to 7 minutes.
b. Take out the pumpkin and ash gourd pieces. In a separate pan, heat some coconut oil and add the vegetables, slit green chillis and black beans to it. Stir-fry for a minute.
c. Add the coconut milk. Stir for another 10 minutes and add water in between if you feel the Olan is too dry.
d. Let the vegetables cook. Remove from the stove when done.
e. Temper the curry leaves and mustard seeds in coconut oil and add the tempering to the Olan. Stir well.
f. Olan is ready. Serve hot with some red rice or chapatis.