Sunday, 11 December 2011

140) OLAN



     1)    Tender ash gourd – 500 gm.
     2)    Dry cowpeas (or fresh cowpea seeds) – 50 gm.
     3)    Medium hot green chilies – 2 Nos.
     4)    Fresh coconut – 1 no.
     5)    Asafoetida powder – 2 pinches
     6)    Salt – ¾ teaspoon

To Cook:

          Traditionally, olan is prepared on wood burning stoves which impart the slightly smoky aroma of the wood to this mild and delicious soupy curry. Soak the dry cowpeas overnight. If you are using mature freshly shelled cowpeas, there is no need to soak them since they cook fast like fresh green peas.

          Grate the coconut and grind adding water. The volume of water should be approximately equal to the volume of grated coconut. When finely ground, cover a bowl with clean cotton or muslin cloth and tip over the ground coconut. Now, pull together the edges of the cloth and squeeze the coconut mixture twisting the top of the cloth as you go releasing the thick coconut milk into the bowl. Pour the milk into another vessel and put back the cloth bundle into the bowl. Open the cloth and pour the same quantity of water as earlier. Mix well and squeeze again. Set aside the second coconut milk and repeat once again collecting the third milk.

          Remove a very thin peel from the ash gourd. Cut it into 2 cm. long x 2 cm. wide x 5 mm. thick pieces. Slit the green chilies. Set a 2 litre vessel on high heat. Pour in the second and third (thin) coconut milks. Tip in the soaked and drained cowpeas. As it comes to a boil, turn down the heat and cover with lid.

          When the cowpeas are 75% cooked (bite one to see), tip in the ash gourd pieces and the split chilies. If you are using fresh cowpeas, there is no need to precook them and you can tip them in along with the ash gourd pieces. Cook on low heat till the vegetables are done. Squeeze a cowpea between your fingers. It should be soft and the powdery paste should burst out. Sprinkle the salt and pour in the first (thick) coconut milk.

          As soon as it starts to boil, put in 2 pinches of asafoetida powder and switch off the heat. Stir and cover with lid. Let the curry rest a while. Serve warm.



     1)    My husband loves another version of olan which I prepare with tender pumpkin in place of ash gourd. The pumpkin should not be too young but quite tender and greenish white inside. When cooked, it becomes somewhat transparent and watery. It melts in the mouth and is so very tasty. The seeds need to be removed before cooking but the peel is not; since even the peel is soft when cooked. Try this version and you may like it even more than the traditional version,

     2)    Konkanis make a much richer and far tastier version of olan using many vegetables. For details, visit my valval recipe.

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