Olan Recipe | Kerala Olan Curry

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Olan recipe with step by step photos. Olan is a delicious curry made with white pumpkin (ash gourd or kumbalanga), cowpeas (red lobia or chawli) and coconut milk. Gluten-free and vegan dish. It makes for a comforting and delicious meal when paired with steamed rice or Kerala red rice.

olan served in a ceramic bowl with a sprig of curry leaves kept in the background and text layovers.

This simple homely curry or stew is one of the dishes that is served during the onam sadhya.

Olan is a light and mild curry with flavors of coconut milk, curry leaves and cowpeas. In addition to these, the other basic ingredients that go in this recipe are curry leaves and green chilies. For an authentic flavor in the dish, I always prefer making it in coconut oil. I would also suggest you to make it in coconut oil.

Since olan is a coconut milk based curry, thus it pairs very well with steamed rice. If possible you can serve it with Kerala red rice (matta rice).

I will be sharing a few Kerala recipes and olan happens to be one of them. Some curry recipes from the Kerala cuisine which I have already shared are Vegetable stew, Kootu curry and Kalan. I have been making olan after adapting it from the essential Kerala cookbook.

Ash gourd also known as white pumpkin is generally used to make olan. But you can even use yellow pumpkin (kaddu) instead. Red cowpeas (red lobia) are added in the curry. Though black eyed peas can be easily substituted.

Step-by-Step Guide

How to make Olan Recipe

1. Rinse ½ cup red cowpeas (lobia) in fresh water. Then in a bowl soak the red cowpeas overnight.

making Kerala olan curry recipe

2. Next day drain all the water and rinse the cowpeas again. Drain the extra water.

making Kerala olan curry recipe

3. Now add the soaked cowpeas in a 2 litre stovetop pressure cooker. Also add ¼ teaspoon salt.

making Kerala olan curry recipe

4. Add 1.5 cups water and pressure cook on a medium heat for 3 to 4 whistles or 8 to 9 minutes till the cowpeas are tender and cooked well.

making Kerala olan curry recipe

5. Once the pressure settles down, then only open the lid and check if the cowpeas are cooked well. Keep aside.

making Kerala olan curry recipe

Cooking ash gourd

6. Rinse and then peel 300 grams of ash gourd. Chop them in medium cubes. Discard the seeds and pith. You will need 2 cups of chopped ash gourd.

making Kerala olan curry recipe

7. In a pan, take the chopped ash gourd. Also, add 7 to 8 curry leaves and 3 to 4 green chilies (slit). Season with salt as per taste.

making Kerala olan curry recipe

8. Now add ¾ to 1 cup water. Instead of water, you can also use thin coconut milk.

making Kerala olan curry recipe

9. Cover the pan and on a low to medium heat simmer till the ash gourd is cooked.

making Kerala olan curry recipe

10. In between do check when the ash gourd is cooking and if required you can add some more water.

making Kerala olan curry recipe

11. The ash gourd has to be cooked till its tender.

making Kerala olan curry recipe

12. There will be some water remaining in the pan and its fine. But do make sure that it is not a lot of water. You can even mash some of the ash gourd if you want.

making Kerala olan curry recipe

Making olan curry

13. Now add the cooked cowpeas. Do not add the stock. Just add the cowpeas.

making Kerala olan curry recipe

14. Add 1 cup of thick coconut milk.

making Kerala olan recipe

15. Stir and mix very well.

making Kerala olan recipe

16. On a low heat gently heat the curry for 4 to 5 minutes. Do not boil.

making Kerala olan recipe

17. Switch off the heat and then add 12 to 14 curry leaves.

making Kerala olan recipe

18. Also add 2 to 3 teaspoons of coconut oil.

making Kerala olan recipe

19. Mix well. Cover and let the flavors infuse for 6 to 8 minutes.

making Kerala olan recipe

20. Serve olan curry hot with steamed rice.

olan recipe


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olan recipe

Olan Recipe

Olan is a delicious curry made with white pumpkin (ash gourd), cowpeas (red lobia or chawli) and coconut milk. Olan recipe comes from the Kerala cuisine. 
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Cuisine Kerala, South Indian
Course Main Course
Diet Gluten Free, Vegan
Difficulty Level Moderate
Servings 4
Units

Ingredients

for pressure cooking cowpeas

  • cup cowpeas (red lobia)
  • 1.5 cups water for pressure cooking
  • ¼ teaspoon salt for pressure cooking

for making olan

  • 300 grams ash gourd or 2 cups chopped ash gourd (white pumpkin or kumbalanga)
  • 7 to 8 curry leaves
  • 3 to 4 green chillies – slit
  • salt as required
  • ¾ to 1 cup water for cooking ash gourd
  • 1 cup Coconut Milk (Thick)
  • 12 to 14 curry leaves
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons coconut oil

Instructions
 

preparation

  • Rinse and soak ⅓ cup red cowpeas (red lobia) overnight.
  • Next day drain all the water and rinse the cowpeas again. Drain the extra water.
  • Now add the soaked cowpeas in a 2 litre pressure cooker. Also add ¼ teaspoon salt.
  • Add 1.5 cups water and pressure cook on medium flame for 3 to 4 whistles or 8 to 9 minutes till the cowpeas are tender and cooked well.
  • Once the pressure settles down, open the lid and check if the cowpeas are cooked well. Keep aside.
  • Rinse and then peel 300 grams ash gourd. Chop them in medium cubes. discard the seeds and pith. You will need 2 cups of chopped ash gourd.

cooking ash gourd

  • In a pan, take the chopped ash gourd. Also add 7 to 8 curry leaves and 3 to 4 green chillies (salt). Season with salt as per taste.
  • Now add ¾ to 1 cup water. Instead of water you can also use thin coconut milk.
  • Cover the pan and on a low to medium flame simmer till the ash gourd is cooked.
  • In between do check when the ash gourd is cooking and if required you can add some more water.
  • The ash gourd has to be cooked till its tender.
  • There will be some water remaining in the pan and its fine. But do make sure that its not a lot of water.

making olan

  • Now add the cooked cowpeas. Do not add the stock. Just add the cowpeas.
  • Add 1 cup thick coconut milk. Mix very well.
  • On a low flame gently heat olan curry for 4 to 5 minutes. Do not boil. 
  • Switch off the flame and then add 12 to 14 curry leaves.
  • Also add 2 to 3 teaspoons of coconut oil.
  • Mix well. cover and let the flavors infuse for 6 to 8 minutes. 
  • Serve olan with steamed rice.

Notes

  • Instead of cow peas you can add black eyed peas. But do not overcook them.
  • Yellow pumpkin can be used instead of white pumpkin.
  • You can also use half-half of yellow pumpkin and white pumpkin.
  • A bit of ginger can also be added.

Nutrition Info (Approximate Values)

Nutrition Facts
Olan Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 778 Calories from Fat 513
% Daily Value*
Fat 57g88%
Saturated Fat 49g306%
Sodium 1097mg48%
Potassium 1116mg32%
Carbohydrates 56g19%
Fiber 11g46%
Sugar 8g9%
Protein 19g38%
Vitamin A 755IU15%
Vitamin C 422.3mg512%
Calcium 286mg29%
Iron 14.5mg81%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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This Olan Recipe from the archives, originally published in July 2017 has been updated and republished on February 2023.

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Welcome to Dassana's Veg Recipes. I share vegetarian recipes from India & around the World. Having been cooking for decades and with a professional background in cooking & baking, I help you to make your cooking journey easier with my tried and tested recipes showcased with step by step photos & plenty of tips & suggestions.

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6 Comments

        1. dabur brand. when i am busy or less time, i use dabur coconut milk. otherwise i prepare coconut milk at home.