November 17, 2014

Purple Olan

Olan is probably is the most simple dish from kerala. This 'semi-cooked seasonal vegetables simmered in coconut milk' is very mild and oh-so-easy to make. There are variations as we go from North to South of Kerala, so why not add a New England fall version too :-). This version of olan is made with purple sweet potato and ash gourd cooked in homemade coconut milk.

Purple sweet potato, which is found mostly during the fall season in our grocery stores, is one of my favorite because of the color it brings to your table. It is also versatile enough to be added to many dishes like mashed potatoes (err..mashed sweet potatoes) for your breakfast, roasted sweet potato salad for your lunch or oven roasted purple sweet potato fries for an evening snack. This season though, I have recreated our favorite olan with purple sweet potato giving it a different color and flavor. Purple sweet potatoes are a high source of antioxidants from anthocyanins which gives them the rich purple color. They are also a good source of dietary fiber, calcium and iron. It also has low glycemic index making it a diabetic friendly carbohydrate.


  • Purple Yam - 1 medium
  • Ash gourd - 1 lb
  • Homemade coconut milk - 2 cups
  • Green chilly - 2-3
  • Virgin coconut oil - 1 Tbs
  • Sea salt - as per taste


  • Wash the yam well, peel skin and slice into thin rounds (about 1/8th of an inch)
  • Peel ash gourd and slice into about 1 inch square disks (about 1/8th of an inch)
  • Start cooking the yam slices along with green chillies slit into half and with 1/2 cup of water on medium heat. Cook covered.
  • While the yam is cooking, you can make the coconut milk.
  • Once yam is half cooked (most of the water will be absorbed by now) add the ash gourd slices and coconut milk and continue cooking. 
  • Once the yam is cooked well, add salt and adjust taste. 
  • Switch off the flame and drizzle coconut oil on top.
  • Serve warm. Enjoy!!

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