Sunday, September 6, 2009

Olan/I shtu - stewed lentils and veggies in coconut milk

This is yet another member of a Kerala sadya. But unlike a few of it's counterparts, the main ingredients in Olan usually are very varied...

It is a very simple, yet very very tasty dish to make. Another dish that would be agreeable to most people who are used to totally different cuisines than ours. This one can also be used as a side-dish for rotis or chappatis.

Red lentils / vanpayar- soak overnight or for 4 to 6 hours
Coconut milk - Ist extract , and 2nd extract
This means that the first thicker and creamier extract should be kept separate and then add water to the coconut to get another thinner extract. In case you use the coconut milk powder , 1 tbsp to 1 glass of water for the 2nd extract and 1 tbsp to a little less than half a glass of water for the 1st.

Potatoes - 3 medium (peeled, washed, cut into cubes)

Ash pumpkin/ kumbalanga - 100 gm slice (peeled, washed and cubed)

Green chillies - 5 to 6

Turmeric powder- a pinch

Onion - 1 (peeled and sliced lenghtwise)

Add all the ingredients except the 1st extract of coconut milk in the pressure cooker and cook for 3 whistles. Once the steam escapes, switch the stove back on, if gravy is watery, reduce it by evaporating. Now add salt to taste. Finally, add the 1st extract of coconut milk and then add a tsp of cooking oil and curry leaves. Be careful to put off the stove before it boils. Thick coconut milk curdles when boiled.


Instead of adding onions in the beginning, chope shallots, fry in oil and add last.

Instead of red lentils substitute a tomato.. the taste will be very different.

Carrots and green peas with potatoes instead of lentils and pumpkin make another interesting curry. A half teaspoon of crushed pepper enhances the taste.


  1. Such a tempting olan, looks yummy!

  2. Sounds wonderful ... I love lentils, love coconut milk, must try this!

  3. oh wow! These are indian food is it not? I love Indian food especially the curried ones. I'm thinking Masala now. yum.