link rel = "image_src” href=”preview-image-here.jpg” / expr:content='data:blog.metaDescription' link rel = "image_src” href=”preview-image-here.jpg” / expr:content='data:blog.metaDescription' Sukanya's musings: OLAN (ASH GOURD AND BLACK EYED BEANS IN A MILD COCONUT MILK GRAVY)

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Saturday, December 31, 2011


I love revisits and I would like to revisit this post of mine posted on the 4th of July 2006. I love this dish, its simple, not too spicy and nutritious. Enjoy this post with new pictures.

Olan is the one of the simplest dishes of Kerala. I think this dish is very unique to Kerala. The speciality of this dish is it has no spices at all except a little green chillies to add some punch to this otherwise bland dish.
The dish is made with Pumpkins and black eyed beans in coconut milk gravy and the seasoning of curry leaves in coconut oil gives it a totally Kerala feel to the dish.
The dish is extremely nutritious and healthy, it is supposed to be very easy to digest and light on the stomach. This dish is low in calories.
The Brahmins usually eat a lot of Pumpkins as they believe it is good for the brain.
The White Pumpkin is rich in calcium and vitamins B and C and has a high fibre content. The Orange Pumpkin is rich in Vitamins A and B, protein and calcium
The Black eyed Beans (Lobia) though a high calorie food is rich in protein, calcium and vitamins A and B.
Olan is prepared by Kerala Iyers in their weddings, Upanayanam (thread ceremony), for festivals, It could be easily said that no Saddhi (Feast) is said to be complete without the olan.
It is a must try dish, the aroma of the coconut milk and the taste will make u crave for more. Below is the recipe of this “tasty” health food.

1 cup Black-eyed beans (Lobia or Van Payaru)
1 cup White pumpkin / Ash Gourd (Elavan)
1 cup Orange Pumpkin (Matthan)
3-4 nos. Green chillies (preferably slit)
11/2 cups Coconut milk (refer to tip)
5-6 nos. Curry leaves
1 tablespoon Oil (preferably coconut oil)

Soak the Black eyed beans overnight. Pressure cook it the next day till 3/4th done. Don’t cook it completely else it will get mashed in the olan.
Remove the skin of the White Pumpkin and Orange Pumpkin (the skin of the orange pumpkin can be retained as it gets cooked, provided the skin is tender, if very tough to cut then please de-skin it) and cut it into small square pieces. The chopping of the vegetables is also very important in Olan. It has to be cut into square pieces only.
Cook the vegetables and the half done black eyed beans with salt and the slit green chillies in a little water. When the pumpkins and the beans are completely cooked (don’t overcook the pumpkins, take in a spoon and see if it is soft, that means it is done, don’t cook it to the level that it gets mashed), To the cooked pumpkins and beans add 1cup coconut milk i.e. your second milk (refer to tip) and boil. When it thickens well, add ¼ cup of your first coconut milk.
Bring this to a boil and remove from fire.
Season it by frying curry leaves in 1tbs coconut oil.
Mix well and serve hot.
Tip : Grate ½ a coconut. Squeeze out 1/4cup of the milk from the coconut without adding water, this is known as the first milk which is very concentrated. Grind in a mixie with little water and take one more cup of milk from the coconut.
Nowadays, we can buy coconut milk in a tetra pack, even the ready coconut milk can be used, but incase of using the ready coconut milk, no need to follow the first and second milk etc. just add the coconut milk as per the measure given and follow the method.

**Olan can be prepared with just one type of pumpkin also, that is either the White Pumpkin or the Orange Pumpkin.


  1. WOW!! olan looks great
    Happy new year

  2. Hi Sukanya, believe me or not I just tried this today and we all loved it so much. Actually I have been wanting to prepare olan for a long time now. My grandmother used to make it and I have not had it since then. Fortunately I had all the ingredients at home. Actually I also had soaked black eyed peas for making sundal. How cool was it? So I prepared the coconut milk as you have mentioned and did the olan. This is the first time I'm making coconut milk at home, so I couldn't get the first milk without adding any water. I don't know if there is any specific techinque to do that. So I did add some water even the first time, extracted some milk and for the 2nd time I added the 1 cup water and got a thinner milk. Other than that no issues and the dish tasted so good. Thanks for the recipe.

  3. @ Anu - Happy New year to you too Anu.

  4. @Eggless cooking - I am glad you made Olan and liked it. About the coconut milk, the first milk is easy to make only if the coconut is freshly broken ,grated and squeezed. you need to blend it a bit, before you squeeze. Otherwise, you can add some water, blend and squeeze. The essence of the first milk will be stronger than the following ones. Hope this helps you in your consequent attempts.


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