Some of the my favourite dishes are Kerala; perhaps because I love all things with coconut so much. This is one reason I love Onam Sadya so much. It is one time when I can several of my favourite foods all at one time. One of my favourite dishes in Sadya is Olan, a mellow dish of Ash Gourd and Pumpkin in Coconut Milk.

Olan | Pumpkin in Coconut Milk: A Kerala Sadya Recipe
Olan | Pumpkin in Coconut Milk

In these times of COVID-19 lockdown, I have been getting vegetables but Ash Gourd has been in short supply. So when the vendor got me superb Pumpkin and Ash Gourd on the same day, all I could think of was making Olan. Just because it would be a welcome change from the Bhindi, Tendli, and Cabbage dishes that have been dominating my life. 🙂

Olan is a super simple dish in which pumpkin, ash gourd and cowpeas are cooked in coconut milk. The only favouring is a green chilli and the final touch of coconut oil. The result is a creamy curry that is just perfect when eaten with either rice or roti. A couple of weeks ago, I had some coconut milk and was wondering what to do with it when I suddenly thought of Olan.

Traditionally, this dish is made with red cowpeas. However, you can make it with black-eyed cowpeas as well.

Do try my recipes for Vegetable Stew in Coconut Milk (Ishtew), Chakka Kuru Manga Curry | Jackfruit Seed and Mango Curry, and Angamaly Manga Curry | Kerala Raw Mango and Coconut Milk Curry.

This recipe was first posted in August 2014 and is now updated with a recipe card.

Recipe for Olan: A Kerala Sadya Recipe

Olan | Ash Gourd, Pumpkin, and Cowpeas in Coconut Milk

Olan | Ash Gourd & Pumpkin in Coconut Milk

Olan is a traditional dish from Kerala and is essentially pumpkin, ash gourd and cowpeas simmered in coconut milk. This mellow dish is a part of the traditional Onam Sadya (feast).
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Soaking Time 8 hrs
Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine Indian, Kerala, South Indian, Vegan, Vegetarian
Servings 2 People

Ingredients
  

  • 100 gms Pumpkin (~ 1 Cup x 1" pieces)
  • 100 gms Ash Gourd (~ 1 Cup x 1" pieces)
  • 3 tbsp Cowpeas
  • 1/2 Cup Thick Coconut Milk
  • 3/4 Cup Water
  • 2 Green Chillies
  • 1 tsp Coconut Oil/Cooking Oil
  • A Few Curry Leaves
  • Salt to Taste

Instructions
 

Cooking the Cowpeas

  • Soak the cowpeas in 1/2 cup water for at least 8 hours.
  • Drain the water from the soaked cowpeas.
  • Add 1/4 cup water and pressure cook the cowpeas till they are cooked and have softened.

Other Preparations

  • Peel and chop the red and white pumpkin into 1″ pieces.
  • Slit the green chillies.

Making the Olan

  • To a heavy bottomed vessel, add the pumpkin, ash gourd, green chillies, 1/4 cup coconut milk and 3/4 cup water.
  • Over medium heat, cover and cook till the pumpkin and ash gourd pieces are tender.
  • Turn down the heat.
  • Add the cooked cowpeas, 1/4 cup coconut milk, curry leaves, and salt. Mix well. Add a little more water or coconut milk, if needed.
  • Over low heat, let the Olan simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat.
  • Drizzle coconut oil over the Olan and mix well.
  • Cover and set aside for 5 minutes.
  • Serve Olan with rice or even roti!
Keyword Olan, Onam Sadya, Pumpkin and Ash Gourd in Coconut Milk, Sadya
Olan | A Kerala Onam Sadya Recipe
Olan | A Kerala Onam Sadya Recipe

How to Make Olan | Ash Gourd and Pumpkin in Coconut Milk: An Onam Sadya Recipe from Kerala

  1. Prepping the Cowpeas
    1. Wash the cowpeas well and soak them in 1/2 cup water for at least 8 hours. Cowpeas are a bit tough and need a good amount of soaking and cooking.
    2. Drain the water from the soaked cowpeas.
    3. Add 1/4 cup water and pressure cook the cowpeas till they are cooked. The cowpeas should soften to the extent that when pressed hard they should get mashed.

  2. Other Preparations
    1. Peel and chop the red and white pumpkin into 1″ pieces.
    2. Slit the green chillies.
  3. Making the Olan
    1. To a heavy bottomed vessel, add the pumpkin, ash gourd, and green chillies.
    2. Add 1/4 cup coconut milk and 3/4 cup water.
    3. Over medium heat, cook the pumpkin and ash gourd till they are tender. The pieces will start to look translucent. Cook till they can be cut with a spoon. Beware that overcooking will mean the pieces will become mashable.

    4. Turn down the heat.
    5. Add the cooked cowpeas, 1/4 cup coconut milk, curry leaves, and salt. Mix well.
    6. Let the Olan simmer for 5 minutes. Do not boil or let the mix simmer for long.
    7. Turn off the heat.
    8. Drizzle coconut oil over the Olan and mix well.
    9. Cover and set aside for 5 minutes.
  4. Serve Olan with rice or even roti!

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