Olan Recipe: A mildly flavoured vegetable stew prepared with ash gourd, lobia, coconut milk


  • Sadya is one of the major highlights during Onam fest
  • Onasadya is a nine-course vegetarian meal served on a banana leaf
  • We bring the classic recipe of Olan – a mildly flavoured vegetable stew

Onam seems incomplete without indulging in an elaborated Sadya spread. Literally meaning banquet (or feast), Sadya is one of the major highlights during this 10-day annual carnival of Kerala. Onasadya (or Onam Sadya) is a scrumptious nine-course vegetarian meal served on a banana leaf. It includes 26 traditional dishes from the region that offers a burst of sweet, tangy, tasty and spicy flavours to your palate. Quintessentially, this meal is relished with hands while sitting on the floor. This year, the celebrations commenced on August 22 and will conclude with Thiruvonam (Sacred Onam Day) on 2nd September.

Here, we bring you one of the must-have dishes in a Sadya spread that is simple and can be put together in no time. It is the classic recipe of Olan – a mildly flavoured vegetable stew prepared with ash gourd or white gourd, lobia and coconut milk.

Olan is best enjoyed as a side dish with rice, idli and appam. It also makes a great combination when paired with Moru curry, another important dish in a Sadya platter – click here for recipe.

Also Read: Make Your Onam Sadya A Flavoursome Affair With This Ash Gourd Pachadi Recipe


How To Make Olan | Kerala-Style Olan Recipe:


2 cups chopped ash gourd, de-skinned and de-seeded

Half cup lobia, over-night soaked

3-4 slited green chillies

1 cup thick coconut milk

Half cup thin coconut milk

2-3 springs of curry leaves

Salt to taste

1 tablespoon coconut oil


Step 1. Pressure-cook the over-night soaked lobia (cow peas) with some water and salt. Wait until 4-5 whistles, till the lobia turns soft. Strain the excess water and keep aside.

Step 2. Add the chopped ash gourd in a pan with thin coconut milk, green chilli and salt. Close the lid and let it cook till the ash gourds turn soft and mushy.

Step 3. When you are satisfied with the ash gourd’s texture, add the boiled lobia and thick coconut milk to it.

Step 4. On a low flame, cook the whole thing for 3 to 4 minutes. Do not boil to avoid curdling.

Step 6. Switch off the flame. Add curry leaves and drizzle coconut oil and close the lid. Let the flavours infuse for a couple of minutes.

Step 7. The flavourful and soul-soothing Olan is finally ready to be served.

Pro-tip: If you are using canned coconut milk, mix some amount of milk with water to get the thin coconut milk. And for the ones who want to prepare it at home, here’s an easy recipe (click here). 

Happy Onam 2020, everyone!

About Somdatta SahaExplorer- this is what Somdatta likes to call herself. Be it in terms of food, people or places, all she craves for is to know the unknown. A simple aglio olio pasta or daal-chawal and a good movie can make her day.

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By Papa