Olan, Kerala Sadya style Olan/ Ash Gourd stew

Olan is an integral part of Kerala Sadya, a grand vegetarian feast comprising of a multitude of vegetable dishes served with rice on Banana leaf. Traditional Olan is prepared using Kumbalanga/ Ash gourd and Van Payar /Red cowpeas or blackeyed peas. Now, we have variety of Olan preparations with vegetables like long beans, Pumpkin, Yam etc. The simplicity of Olan makes it stand out from other dishes served in sadya. As you probably know, Sadya is prepared and enjoyed during festivals like Onam, Vishu and other special celebrations. Each dish in sadya is special- you will find sour, sweet, tangy or spicy flavoured dishes or a mix of flavours in some dishes.

Most of the dishes in Sadya are coconut based like- Avial, Sadya Parippu, kalan, pulissery, vellarikka pachadi, Erissery, theeyal, inji curry, thoran, Pineapple pachadi, koottu curry etc. Grated coconut, ground coconut and toasted coconut is used as required for these dishes. However, for Olan, we use coconut milk; it is like a stew preparation. Vegetables are simmered in thick coconut milk and little coconut oil and curry leaves are added to boost the flavours. Ash Gourd/ Winter Melon/ Wax Gourd is light green Gourd with white flesh, which has great medicinal properties. Olan brings out the natural taste of pumpkin and the flavours are enhanced by the addition of red cow peas (Vanpayar) and coconut milk.

You should try all kinds of variety curd dishes like Papaya Pulissery, Kumbalanga Moru curry, Kalan, Vellarikka Pachadi, Mambazha pulissery etc. Also, try my Sambar, Rasam, Pickles and variety Payasams  like Palada, Pazham Pradhaman, Parippu Pradhaman, Mathanga Payasam etc. during Onam. The spirit of Onam unites all Keralites and it is a celebration of brotherhood that crosses all religious barricades. So, let’s gear up to celebrate Onam and spread happiness all around. Enjoy!

Ingredients for Olan :

Ash Gourd/  Kumbalanga

: 1 cup (chopped thinly)

Cow peas/ Van Payar (cooked)

: ¼ cup

Small onions/ shallots

: 2 -3 nos.

Green chili

: 2 or 3nos.

Small Onion/ Shallots

: 2 nos.

Coconut milk (thin- Randam paal)

: ½ cup

Coconut milk (Thick – Onnam Paal)

: ½ cup

Curry leaves

: few

Coconut oil

: 1 tbsp


Peel skin, remove the seeds, wash and clean Ash Gourd/ Kumbalanga.  Thinly chop into small pieces. Soak the Van Payar/ Cow peas overnight (I always extra vanpayar so I can use extra payar for erissery, koottucurry etc.) and pressure cook till done. Make sure you do not overcook. Drain required cow peas and keep aside.

Olan / Kerala Sadya Style Olan / Ash Gourd Soup

In a small pan, add sliced kumbalanaga, small onions (2 -3), slit green chilies, curry leaves, salt and half a glass of water and cover and cook on medium flame till soft.

Olan / Kerala Sadya Style Olan / Ash Gourd Soup

Grind the coconut with half cup water and collect the thick coconut milk. Keep aside and grind again with half cup water to take out thin coconut milk (Randam Paal).  Add the skimmed coconut milk and when it starts boiling, add van Payar. Let it simmer, adjust salt and next add the thick coconut milk, combine well and switch off the heat.

Olan / Kerala Sadya Style Olan / Ash Gourd Soup Olan / Kerala Sadya Style Olan / Ash Gourd Soup Olan / Kerala Sadya Style Olan / Ash Gourd Soup Olan / Kerala Sadya Style Olan / Ash Gourd Soup Olan / Kerala Sadya Style Olan / Ash Gourd Soup Olan / Kerala Sadya Style Olan / Ash Gourd Soup

Pour coconut oil and add curryleaves,

Olan / Kerala Sadya Style Olan / Ash Gourd Soup

Just give a tiny stir and your Olan is ready to serve. 


  • Kumbalanga pieces should be chopped finely.
  • Just add enough water to cook the Kumbalanga/ Ash Gourd.
  • Make sure you drain cow peas after cooking. If you add liquid, the colour will change. Fresh white colour of the coconut milk adds to the appeal.
  • Use coconut oil for seasoning to ensure authentic taste.
  • Olan has subtle flavours and coconut milk enhances the natural taste of Ash gourd and cow peas.

Hope you liked this Kerala Sadya style Olan recipe. It would really motivate me if you will send me your comments or share with friends through the share buttons below. Happy Onam! God Bless!

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