The spirit of Onam continues and this time it is yet another one of the vegetable sides that is a part of the Sadya (the traditional feast). One specialty of all the vegetable sides that are served in a Sadya is that, there is just about enough spices and other flavoring ingredients used so that it doesn’t overpower the natural taste of the vegetables but brings out the best in the dish as well. Mostly it is a little of ginger or green chillies to bring that spicy zing and sometimes a little cumin is added to give a different dimension. The base is mostly coconut – grated, ground or coconut milk and/or yogurt. It is amazing how various combination of these with different vegetables bring out such a wide variety of curries. Olan is one such dish where the green chillies cooked in coconut milk gives that special flavor to the gourd/melons.
|Winter Melon / Ash Gourd, cut into cubes – 2 cups
Red Chori / Azuki Beans / Red Beans or Black Eyed Beans – 1/2 cup
Coconut milk – 1 can
Green Chillies / Bird’s Eye Chillies / Thai Chillies, slit in half up to three quarters of the way – 3-4
Curry Leaves – 8-10
Coconut Oil – 1 tsp
Cook the melon/ gourd and slit green chillies in about 1/2 cup boiling water till it is fully cooked but still maintains its shape. Wash and cook the beans well – pressure cooking may work out the best. Add the beans to the cooked melon, add coconut milk, curry leaves and salt to it. Let it almost come to a boil and remove from heat. Pour the coconut oil over it when it is is still hot so as to release the flavors. I usually do not temper any seasonings for olan but if you want you can temper some mustard seeds and dried red chillies and pour over the olan as well.
Your olan is ready to be served for the sadya. I bet you cannot think of any other simpler vegetable dish that is equally tasty!