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Kerala Olan – Onam Recipe

Kerala Olan – Onam Recipe

I was on a mission to try some sadya recipes at home and decided to make Olan. I went through the recipe, made a list of things to buy. That’s when I realised I’ve never bought Ash gourd (kumbalanga) before. So while I was at the shop, just to make sure, I’m getting the right thing, I decided to check with the salesman. I went and asked him (he is a Malayalee) ” chetta, do you make olan with this?” Now the strange thing is, he heard it as “how do you make olan with this?”! Before I could correct him, he started going around the shop, asking other customers for the Olan recipe. I should say, it was a sight to watch.. with kumbalanga on one hand, he kept on asking people for Olan recipe, all the while pointing to me saying  “aa kochinu vendiya” (it’s for that girl)! hhmmm… I wish I knew the vanishing act!


  • Black-eyed beans (vanpayar) – ½ cup
  • Ash gourd (kumbalanga) – 2.5-3 cups, cut into cubes
  • Green chilli – 3-4, slit lengthwise
  • Water – 3.5 cups
  • Thick coconut milk – ¾ -1 cup
  • Salt
  • Curry leaves
  • Coconut oil


  • Pressure cook the beans (vanpayar) with 1.5 cups water (refer notes). Strain the stock and keep aside the cooked beans. The beans should not be over cooked and it should retain its shape.
  • Cook together ash gourd, green chilli, salt and 2 cups water, till ash gourd becomes tender. Again, ash gourd also should not be overcooked and it should retain its shape.
  • Add the cooked beans to the ash gourd and mix well. Add coconut milk and curry leaves. Cook on low flame for 5-7 mins. Remove from the fire and drizzle some coconut oil.
  • The curry has a thick consistency.

I didnt soak the beans before cooking. I pressure cooked it directly. After the first whistle reduced the flame to low-medium and cooked for 6-7 whistles. Kept closed till pressure drops. I didnt add the stock of cooked beans to the curry. However in some recipes, they add it to the curry and it gives a reddish tint to Olan. The curry tends to thicken as it rests.

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