Olan – A Kerala Delicacy

Olan is a much sought after keralite dish that is part of any festive occasion,function or wedding. Except for the strong flavor of coconut oil it does not boast of any distinct or tangy flavors yet its fame has spread far and wide and the dish is part of most Hindu weddings in Tamil Nadu as well now a days. The dried Karamani or Black eyed Peas that is added here is an excellent source of protein making this an extremely healthy dish to eat.

Easy to make and wonderfully delicious to eat!

Ingredients:
White Pumpkin [Poosanikkai] – 1 cup
Yellow Pumpkin [Maththan] – 1 cup
Green Chillies – 4
Salt – To taste
Black eyed Peas [Dried Karamani] – 1/4 cup
Coconut Oil – 2 Tlbs
Coconut Milk – 1/2 cup Optional
Green Karamani- 1/4 cup Optional
Curry Leaves
Method:
Soak the Black eyed peas overnight. In the morning pressure cook it and keep aside.
Peel skin and cut both pumkins into 3 to 4cm cubes of about 1/2cm thickness.
Wash green chillies and make a slit in each.
If using green Karamani wash and cut them into 1 inch long pieces.
In a pan cook the pumpkin + slit chillies + green karamani + salt with enough water till the vegetables are tender.
While it is cooking take a cup of grated coconut and churn it in the mixie with a little bit of water and extract thick coconut milk.
Once the vegetables are soft add the pressure cooked black eyed peas + the coconut milk and cook on very low heat till it is absorbed a bit.
Switch off the heat add coconut oil + curry leaves. Mix well, check on salt and serve.

Tips:
Since pumpkin on its own has water content do not pour too much water to cook the vegetable.
Do not over [ pressure] cook the dried karamani or they will get smashed while mixing
While coconut oil is a must coconut milk is optional.
Always pour the raw coconut oil after you remove the dish from the heat for better flavor.

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Chakka Varatti or Jack Fruit Jam

Jack fruit is an excellent source of vitamins and potassium and has good health benefits. Each piece of the fruit or ‘cholai’ as it is referred to is of a beautiful yellow color and can be eaten plain or soaked in honey.The fruit gives out a strong aroma which is not liked by a few. On the contrary the very mention of the fruit and the smell can be so intoxicating, as to tempt you to wards non-stop consumption of the fruit. This jam or Chakka Varatti that is made out of ripened jack fruit forms the core ingredient in making delicious jack fruit based dishes like Elai Adai and Chakka Pradaman [ Payasam]. Refer earlier posts for these recipes.

Ingredients
Ripe Jackfruit Cholais [deseeded & cleaned] – 4 cups
Powdered Jaggery – 2 cups
Ghee – 1 cup
Water – as required

Optional
Cardamom powder – 1/2 tsp
Dried ginger powder a pinch

Method:

Pressure cook the jackfruit with just enough water till they are tender and soft. 3 – 4 whistles should do.

Cool and mash well. Grind to a smooth paste in a blender.

Melt jaggery with just enough water and strain.

Take a heavy bottomed kadai and pour the melted jaggery into it. Let it come to a boil.

Reduce heat completely and slowly add the jack fruit paste, stirring all the time.

Mix thoroughly and add ghee little by little. The mix should come together to form a thick paste, that is dark brown in color.

It is ready when most the moisture is absorbed and it gets a jam like consistency.

Remove and cool. Store in clean dry, air tight containers and refrigerate. Use when required but ensure that you use a dry spoon at all times.

Tips:

Continuous stirring is required during the making of the jam. The mix is likely to splutter out of the container. Hence ensure your hands are protected from getting bunrt by the hot paste.

The jam makes an excellent side dish for Rotis and Bread varieties.

Add dry ginger powder and cardamom only if required. Some prefer to retain the original flavor.

Elai Adai

Elai Adai is a delicious sweet dish exclusive to Kerala that is made out of Jackfruit Jam, Coconut, Rice Flour and Jaggery. The preparation is unique in that it is a two – layer steamed dish that has the banana leaf as the base. A bit elaborate to make, it is worth every bit of the effort and once made gets devoured in no time.

The most important ingredient is the jackfruit jam. Since jack fruit is not available through out the year the jam can be made and preserved during the season time so that it can be used any time of the year. However many shops now sell ready made jam which can be bought and used. The taste of the dish is further enhanced by the aroma of the banana leaf on which is it placed and steamed.

In olden days [ and even now in some homes in Kerala] the preparation of the jam by itself is a huge ritual. A whole jack fruit is sometimes used in the making of the jam in hugely populated households. The jam is so tasty it can eaten plain too. In fact the jam is used in the preparation of another delicacy ‘ Chakka Payasam ‘ or Chakka Pradaman’ [ refer earlier posts]. Will comne up with a separate post on preparing the jam.

Ingredients:

Jack fruit jam – 1 cup
Grated jaggery – 3/4 cup
Grated Coconut – 2 cups
Raw rice – 3/4 cup
Boiled Rice – 1 cup
Gingely Oil – 1 tlbsp
Salt – Pinch

Base :
Banana Leaves – One per piece of adai. Cut them into squares depending on the size of your steamer.

Method:

For the filling:
Melt jaggery with little water and strain.
In a heavy bottomed pan pour melted jaggery and add the jack fruit jam.
Stir well so that the jam mixes well to a paste like consistency without any lumps.
Added grated coconut and mix well till it again reaches a jam – like consistency and all the moisture is gone.

For the paste:
Soak rice up to 8 hours and grind to a smooth paste.
Add salt and gingely oil and mix well.
The paste should be very thick – of spreading consistency.

Raw banana leaves are bound to tear and have to be seasoned in order to be used here. Hold each piece of leave over the flame in the stove and flip each side over for a minute. Alternatively you can steam the leaves too for a few minutes.

When all the above three components are ready:

Take a banana leaf and spread a thin layer pf rice flour over it. Cover only 3/4 th of the leaf.
Now spread the jam over the rice flour mix again ensuring that you stop just before the edges [ of the rice flour paste in this case]
Fold the leaf into half quickly and fold the edges to seal them.
Place in a steamer and steam on medium flame for about 15 to 20 minutes depending on the number of pieces placed in the steamer.
You will know it is done once the adai comes off the leaf.
The adai can be had straight from the leaf or gently removed and placed on a plate.

Tips:
The adai can be made in a round or square shape as per your comfort levels.
The banana leaf has to be carefully handled once the filling is done while transferring it to the steamer.
Last heard that even stores in the US stock frozen banana leaves that can be used for Elai Adai.

Mambhaza Pulissery

When mangoes are in season they are not spared and are eaten in many forms. Some varieties of mango although sweet are more sour to be consumed directly. These can be used in preparations like Pulissery which is a keralite’s version of the better known Mor Kozhambu. The aroma that arises while preparing this dish is so yummy that your salivary glands tend to over work. The dish has a sweet – sour taste that is amazing and goes well when mixed with plain rice.

Ingredients:

Fully ripe mangoes – 2
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Green Chillies – 2 or 3 [ depends on the spice levels]
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Coriander seeds – 1 tsp [optional]
Curd – 1 1/2 cups
Grated coconut – 1/4 cup
Salt – to taste

For Seasoning:
Coconut oil – 1 Tblsp
Mustard – 1 tsp
Red Chillies – 2
Fenugreek seeds – a few
Curry Leaves – a few

Method:
Peel the shin and cut mangoes into chunks.
If the mangoes are over ripe squeeze the pulp out of the skin too.
Add water in a pan and boil the mango pieces along with turmeric powder.
Grind together grated coconut, green chillies, cumin and coriander seeds to a fine paste.
When the mangoes are tender add the ground paste and let it boil for a few minutes.
Churn the curd into thick buttermilk.
Lower the flame and add the buttermilk along with required salt .
Do not let the mixture boil because it will separate. Just let it absorb a bit of heat and switch off the stove immediately.
Heat the oil and add mustard seeds. When it splutters add the red chillies [ split into two] along with fenugreek seeds & curry leaves and switch off the stove.
Pour over the prepared pulissery.

Tips:
Over ripe mangoes can also be used to prepare pulissery.
Ensure that you squeeze all the juice and pulp out since the sweet juice will only add to the taste.
While seasoning take care to add very little of fenugreek because too much of it will make the dish bitter.
Adding coconut oil for seasoning gives an added flavour to the dish

Sliced Banana Delight – [Nendram Pazham cooked and sautéed in sugar & ghee]

This recipe is close to every Keralite’s heart and is one their favourite delicacies. Amazingly easy to make and extremely appealing to the palate, this is the perfect one to try if you have a sweet tooth – just for its simplicity.

Ingredients:
Rip yet firm Nendram Pazham – 1large
Sugar – ½ cup
Ghee – 3 tlbsp
Water as required

Method:

Peel and slice the banana into slices – 1cm thick.
In a thick bottomed pan place the banana slices and pour enough water to cover it and cook on low flame till they are soft.
Add sugar and 2 tlbsp ghee and toss the slices without mashing them.
Once the sugar melts and the moisture is absorbed add the rest of the ghee and toss lightly. Remove from the stove and transfer to a serving dish.

Tips:

The amount of water to be used will depend on the quality of the banana. Some may take a longer time to turn soft. Use your judgement here.
Towards the end do not panic if the slices tend to stick to the bottom of the pan and turn a light brown in color. This slightly browned flavor will only add to the taste of the dish.

Paal Ada Pradhaman [Rice Flake Milk Payasam]

Another delicacy from God’s own country – Kerala. This payasam is made using rice flakes which are specially made at home for this purpose. But now a days good quality ready – to – use rice flakes are available in all departmental stores. Extremely delicious, this payasam is part of any big celebration or feast in a Kerala household.

Ingredients:
Rice Adai – 1/4th cup
Thick Milk – 2 ½ cups
Sugar – 1/4th cup
Ghee – 2 tsp
Cardamom Powder – ¼ tsp
Fried Cashewnuts – optional
Condensed milk – 1/3 rd cup

Method:
Soak Rice adai in boiling hot water for 15 mins.
Drain and rinse in cold water.
In a pressure cooker add adai + milk and pressure cook till you get one whistle.
Switch off the stove. Heat a heavy bottomed pan [or retain the cooker itself] and transfer contents to it and place it on medium flame to thicken and reduce further.
Keep it on the stove till the milk is reduced considerably and the payasam takes on a pinkish tinge.
Add Condensed milk and stir well for 5 mins.
Add sugar and cardamom powder, stir till sugar dissolves completely and switch off the heat. Roast the cashew in ghee and add if required.

Tips:
If you do not have too much time on hand to reduce and thicken the milk, more of condensed milk can be added. If you do so, remember to use less sugar than mentioned otherwise you will land up with a dish that is too sweet to consume.
Always remember to add sugar carefully to boiling milk since it is likely to curdle. So always switch off the stove after sugar is added.
Adding sugar will also dilute the payasam. So thicken it first to the maximum and then add sugar.

Chakka Pradaman – Jack Fruit Payasam

READ THE PREVIOUS POST FOR ELABORATION ON “PAYASAM”

Any preparation from Jack fruit is considered a delicacy in Kerala and especially “Chakka Pradaman”, which is a sweet dish made from jack fruit. The aroma of this dish [ when cooking] will automatically bring visitors to your house.

Ingredients:

Fully Ripe Jack Fruit – 1 cup

Thick jaggery syrup – 1 cup

Thick coconut milk – 1 ½ cups

Thin and finely sliced coconut pieces – 2 tlbsp

Cardamom Powder – ¼ tsp

Ghee [CLARIFIED BUTTER] – as required

Method:

Chop jack fruit very finely and pressure cook the pieces with minimum water. After it cools down grind the pieces in a mixer to form a smooth paste.

Pour jaggery syrup in a heavy bottomed kadai and add the jack fruit paste and stir well to mix.

Continuously stir for about 10 mins or till it thickens and blends well. It should be thick in consistency.

Lower heat and add coconut milk slowly and mix well.

Do not let the mixture boil since the coconut milk may separate.

Add Cardamom powder and switch off stove just before it reaches boiling point.

Fry the coconut pieces in ghee till golden brown and add to the mix.

Serve hot or cold.

Tips:

Ready made “Chakka varatti” [JACK FRUIT PASTE MADE WITH JAGGERY] paste can also be used to make this payasam in case you don’t get jack fruit and you are desperate to have this. . Mix the varatti along with little milk or jaggery syrup to make a thick batter. Place this in the “kadai” [VESSEL] and repeat steps as mentioned above. In case you require more sweet ensure you add extra jaggery syrup to the batter and stir well.