Olan Recipe

Yields: 2 1/2 cups (Serves 3 to 4 People)
Preparation Time: 15 Minutes
Soaking Time (for Black-Eyed Peas): Overnight or 8 hours
Pressure Cooking Time (For Black-Eyed Peas): 1 to 2 whistles


Yellow Pumpkin (Mathan) or Ash Gourd (Elavan) – 1/2 kg (enough to yield 2 cups when sliced and diced)
Black Eyed Peas (Karamani or Black Chowli) – 1/3 cup (soaked in water)
Coconut Milk Powder – 2 tbsp
Green Chilli – 1 – 2 as per taste
Water – 2 1/2 cups
Salt as per taste
Coconut Oil – 1/4 to 1/2 tsp


  1. Soak the black-eyed peas overnight.
  2. Once ready to prepare, pressure cook the black-eyed peas in a pressure cooker for about 1-2 whistles.
  3. Cut the skin off of the pumpkin or ash gourd.
  4. Remove the seeds and spongy part that holds the seeds.
  5. Dice the remaining hard part of the vegetable into thin, squared pieces that are 1 1/2 inch long.
  6. Cook the vegetable in water.
    (Checkpoint: The vegetable is cooked when the pieces turn translucent and soft.)
  7. Add the cooked black-eyed peas to the cooked vegetable.
  8. Add salt and slit green chillies.
  9. Mix the coconut milk powder with about 2 to 3 tbsp of water to make a paste.
  10. Stir in the coconut milk powder paste to the vegetable when there is little water left after boiling.
  11. Boil for a few minutes.
    (Checkpoint: The dish is done when the consistency of the liquid in the dish is neither water nor too creamy; somewhat milky.)
  12. Sprinkle coconut oil to give fragrance to the dish.
  13. Serve.


Pour over rice and serve or as a side dish in traditional food spread on plantain leaf.


  1. You can also use a mixture of yellow pumpkin and ash gourd as well; the combined quantity should yield 2 cups of diced vegetables.
  2. You can also pour in 2 to 3 tablespoonfuls of thick coconut milk instead of coconut milk powder.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Rahul says:

    Add curry leaves for flavor as well as aroma!

    1. Soumya Tilak says:

      Yes, you can add curry leaves as well as it would add its own flavor to olan. The traditional method of preparing Olan, (this was way way back) they didn’t use curry leaves as it would overshadow the smell and taste of coconut, which was more important for keralites, as this was the one of the very few dishes that never used curry leaves and had the coconut smell intact!
      However, now, for the past few years, people do prepare this dish by using curry leaves and also tempering mustard seeds and red chilli in coconut oil, and I have also come across recipes where they also temper with sliced shallots.
      Any dish can always get anyone’s personal touch to make it special and delicious to match each person’s palate! 🙂
      Advance Onam Wishes, Rahul!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s