Olan is a side dish that is part of Kerala cuisine. It is a light and subtle-flavoured dish prepared from pumpkin ,ash-gourd, cowpea beans, coconut milk seasoned with coconut oil. It is usually served as part of Onam/Vishu festive feast or any Kerala Sadhya (feast)

For me or any Keralite, Sadhya is incomplete without Olan. Besides this dish is so easy to prepare and requires fewer ingredients, yet this dish tastes absolutely delicious. It is mildly spiced and subtly flavoured so this is one dish , anyone can really enjoy. It is generally made with Cowpea beans also called as Red Lobia or Chawli. If you do not find it then you can substitute with Black eyed beans (white Lobia). During preparation of Olan, Cowpea beans water isn’t added to the dish, you can add little quantity for slightly reddish hue to the dish or use the water for kneading or preparing other curries. So go ahead and enjoy this dish, be it any occasion!

*Now you can use either pumpkin or Ash gourd or both while preparing Olan. Personally at my home, we use both and I find it more tastier this way

**Adjust salt and green chilies before adding thick coconut milk. Adding salt later can curdle the dish. You can cook veggies in water instead of thin coconut milk but coconut milk adds better flavour to the dish

***You can directly prepare without soaking cowpea beans but then cooking time will increase or alternatively add cowpea beans to boiling water and let it rest on counter for 1 hour

****If you want slightly thinner consistency then increase the quantity of thick coconut milk by 1/4 cup

Do watch the video for better clarity in preparation and share your experience once you prepare the dish in the comments section below

Preparation time: 10 mins Cooking time: 20 mins Total time: 30 mins

Servings: 4


  • 1/2 cup cowpea beans/Black eyed beans/Vanpayar
  • 11/2 cups Ash gourd/White pumpkin, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Yellow pumpkin chopped
  • 1/2 cup thick Coconut milk
  • 1 cup thin(second extract coconut milk)
  • 3-4 green chilies slit
  • 2 sprig curry leaves
  • 11/4 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2-3 teaspoon coconut oil
  • Salt to taste

Steps to prepare

  • Clean and soak cowpea beans for 5-6 hours/Overnight
  • Drain excess water and add to pressure cooker
  • Add 11/4 cups water and 1/4 tsp salt
  • Pressure cook until cowpea beans is tender. Drain excess water. You can add little stock for reddish hue to Olan or use stock for kneading doughs
  • Add thin coconut milk, pumpkin and ash gourd to a pan
  • Add salt, 1 sprig curry leaves and green chilies
  • Mix well
  • Now cook until veggies are tender , yet they retain it’s shape
  • Adjust salt and chilies before adding thick coconut milk
  • Add cowpea beans and thick coconut milk. Mix well
  • Cook over low heat for 4-5 minutes. Do not boil. Switch off
  • Add 1 sprig curry leaves and coconut oil. Gently mix
  • Cover and rest on the counter for 20 minutes for flavours to set in
  • Serve with hot steamed rice
Olan – Kerala Special
Posted by:Rekha Unni

Humble quirky soul embarking on beautiful journey of love called Life. Cooking is one of my favorite hobbies and I love experimenting with different types of foods. it's the love of cooking for my family which has made this hobby as one of my passions

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