Olan – Spice it Up , Just A Little

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Olan is  another essential part of  sadya  dishes. It is  quite  simple   to make   and  very mild in taste.  It  might  surprise  many to learn  that very many of  the  south Indian  dishes  are nothing  like what  the  rest  of  the  world  knows  as “Indian Food”. Olan  is  served as a  side dish for  the  carb of  choice  of  the  region-   rice. It  goes  well with  rice  pancakes  and  flat  breads  as  well.

There are two  versions of  Olan  that  I know  of –  one   with coconut  milk  and  other  with  just   coconut  oil .  The  coconut  milk version is  the  one  that  I am  familiar  with.   Olan can  be  prepared  with different  vegetables  or  combination of  vegetables, but   strong  flavors  are  generally avoided .  Some of  the  vegetable  used  are  pumpkins, ash gourd,  cucumber , long  beans  and  various  dried  beans . My favorite is  black eyed  beans  and    ash gourd ,  as  the  cooked  curry  retains  the  white  color  and  has  very mild  flavor .

If  using  the  dried black eyed  beans   soak them in  water  for a  couple  of  hours . Rinse  and  add  enough  water  to  cover  the  beans  and  cook for 10 to 20 minutes till   it  becomes  soft .  5  minute into  cooking  skim off  the   froth that  settles  on top .  Alternately   these  can be  pressure  cooked  as  well . In that  case presoaking  is  not necessary .

If  you are  lucky to have  the   whole  beans  in the pods you can  use  them  as  well. If  the beans  are  tender  chop the  pods  into 1 inch long  pieces  and  use , otherwise  shell  them   and  use  the  beans .

Chop the  cucumber or  ash gourd  into slices  1/2 inch or  less  thick .  Add  the  vegetable slices , and   2  thai  chilies  to the  cooked  beans  along   with 1/2 C  water  and a pinch of  salt. Bring  this  to  boil   and  cook for  5 minutes  until the  vegetables  are  tender.

Add  a few  tablespoons of  thick  coconut  milk, stir  and  taste .  Adjust  salt  if  necessary.  Drizzle a  teaspoon of  coconut  oil  and place  a curry leaf  on top.  Cover  and  turn off  the  heat .   Let  it  rest  for  at least 2o minutes  before  serving.

 

Olan with Blackeyed Beans and Cucumber

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Olan with Blackeyed Beans  and  Cucumber

Ingredients

Black Eyed Beans - 1/2 C
Cucumer/ Ash Gourd - 2 C
Thai Chili - 2 (To Taste)
Salt - 1/2 Tsp
Coconut Milk - 1/4 C
Curry Leaves - 1 Sprig
Coconut Oil - 1 to 2 Teaspoons

Instructions

Wash the dried black eyed beans and soak in plenty of water for at least 1 hour , preferably overnight.

Rise the beans and cook in 2 ups water. A few minutes into boiling remove the froth that settles on top .

Peel and slice the cucumbers into small pieces no more than 1/2 cm thick . When the beans are almost cooked add the cucumber slices, a pinch of salt along with the chilies .

Cook for a 5 minutes till the vegetables become soft . Add half the coconut milk stir and taste . Adjust salt and add more coconut milk as necessary. After adding coconut milk do not let the stew come to boil . Turn off the heat. Drizzle the coconut oil and place the curry leaves on top. Cover and let it rest for some time before serving .

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