Mathanga - Van payar Olan
A personal favorite of mine aging since childhood days, this unique and deadly dish holds a very prominent place in Kerala households. Featuring as an inevitable side dish in Kerala sadhyas, this dish is equally cherished by all irrespective of the age groups…mainly coz of it’s mild sweet taste. And I guess that’s the beauty of Kerala cuisine as most of the dishes are mildly spiced to suit all palettes…
Since the time I started to make this dish, I was always been under this fallacy that olan can be made only with ash gourd or yellow pumpkin and that too the conventional way. Then, unexpectedly, upon googling for a recipe, I bumped into an Olan recipe and found myself with lots of types or versions of it that actually left me quite bemused. Of course, thx to the innovative variations in the dish recipe and the appearance from the north end to the south end of the little State. Little did I realize that Olan comes in all looks and forms you can think of… though basically I was taught that olan is prepared with Ash gourd (Kumbalanga) and Long runner beans (Achinga/Payar) or Black eyed beans (Van payar) cooked along with a few green chillies with coconut milk giving it a thick curry base.
Easy to make and requiring only a limited number of ingredients for preparation, I guess you cannot ask for more from a Kerala recipe.
So, here’s how the recipe goes….
A medium sized Yellow pumpkin or Mathanga
(not too ripened)
1 glass Black eyed beans popularly known as Van payar
A couple of carrots (absolutely optional)
1 - 2 cups Thick coconut milk
A few green chillies
Salt - As required
A few curry leaves
A tsp of coconut oil
1)Peel the skin off the pumpkin. Slice it into medium sized pieces. Cut carrot into roundels.
2)Cook black eyed beans in a pressure cooker till done.
3)Place the sliced pumpkin along with carrot, chillies, curry leaves, a little salt and 1 - 1½ glass of water in a vessel.
4)Cover the vessel and cook for sometime.
5)When it starts to boil well and the water content starts to reduce, add the cooked van payar along with its retained water.
6)Mix well and cook till the water content is almost reduced.
7)Reduce the flame and add the thick coconut milk.
8)Stir well the whole thing. Do not boil after adding the coconut milk.
9)Check for salt and adjust accdgly.
10)If done, add a few curry leaves and pour a tsp of plain coconut oil onto it.
11)Close the vessel to lock the flavor.
It is ok if the contents get mashed while stirring as pumpkin and carrots are kinda mushy veggies. This tends to make the dish get a thick consistency. So, do keep that in mind while adding coconut milk. Another option is you can also cook the veggies in thin coconut milk or the 2nd extract of coconut milk instead of water which would make it more tastier and sweeter.
Coming back to the diverse variations these dishes are subject to, believe me, I also learnt that olan is prepared without adding coconut milk too in some parts of Kerala…. In which case, the cooked veggies are given a final topping of pure coconut oil and a few curry leaves for flavor. Maybe wud try that one if I run out of coconut milk while making my olan… :)
So, I deduce from this simple example that life has too many options to offer… If you run out of one and if you think that’s the end of it, well then, u r wrong…. When encountered with such a situation, open our eyes and find those alternatives that are available instead of waiting for opportunities to come to us…. And select the best among them and I’m sure you wont be disappointed….:)
So, on that note, happy cooking!!!!
Labels: Naadan Veg Curries