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Kerala Dishes, Sadya, South Indian Dishes, Vegetarian Dishes

Kalan – Kerala Kalan Recipe – The King Of Sadya

When cooking Kerala food, I turn for guidance to Chechi, my son-in-law’s mother ,a wonderful human being and a cook par excellence. Everything she cooks is exquisite and brings forth the quintessential flavors of Kerala. Whenever we go to their home,unfailingly we are treated to a sumptuous ‘sadya’ and every dish – olan, avial, kalan, sambar, erissery, pachadi, kichadi……… bears her signature and deft touch. Here I bring you one of her dishes, Kalan. 

Traditionally, ‘Sadya’ is a spread of  vegetarian cuisine served during festivals, weddings and other special occasions. It is a menu fit for a king and a feast for our tastebuds. Kalan is one of the main dishes served at sadyas.


Serves 6               Preparation Time : 20 mins          Cooking time45mins


  1. Curd ( beaten) – 2 cups
  2. Raw plantain / kaaya / nenthrakkaya – 1
  3. Chena / yam – 1 cup
  4. Turmeric powder – 1/2  tsp
  5. Pepper (fresh,coarsely ground) –  11/2 tsp
  6. Chilli powder – 1/4 teaspoon
  7. Salt – to taste

Coconut Paste

  1. Coconut – 1/2 grated
  2. Curd – 1 cup
  3. Jeera seeds / Cumin – 1/2 tsp
  4. Green Chillies – 2

For Seasoning

  1. Coconut oil – 1 tbsp
  2. Mustard seeds – 1 teaspoon
  3. Methi / Uluva seeds – 1 teaspoon
  4. Curry leaves – 1 stalk
  5. Dry red chillies – 2, cut in two


  1.   Cut the chena and kaaya (raw banana) into square pieces (about 1 and a half  inch at the sides, thickness about 1/4 inch)
  2. Put this in a pan with just enough water to cover it. Add  pepper, chilli powder and turmeric powder.  Cook for about 10 mins or till the pieces are cooked well, but not very soft. Keep aside.
  3. In a mixer, grind together very finely coconut, jeera, and green chillies adding curd, in small quantities at a time.  Add this extra fine paste to the cooked vegetables.
  4. Put this on low heat. Keep stirring till hot, but do not allow it to boil.
  5.  Add salt and the rest of  the curd to this, stirring all the time . Simmer for five minutes or until it thickens and take off heat.
  6.  Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard. When it pops, add methi seeds. When methi becomes light brown, add curry leaves and dry red chillies . Add this as garnish.

Kalan is ready for serving ! Bon Appetit !


  1. When grinding the coconut paste, add curd in small quantities to ensure smooth grinding.
  2. Add thick curd while making kalan, it adds body to the dish.( I use Amul Masti Dahi)
  3. After adding curd, keep it on low heat to avoid curdling.

Quick Tip: If you don’t have egg in the house and are making fried fish or cutlets, you can use  a paste of flour and milk instead. Brush fish or cutlets with this and as usual, roll in crumbs.

Quick Snack: Take 1 cup of beaten curd in a bowl and keep it aside. Grate half cup of cucumber, add salt and allow  to rest for 10 minutes .Stir  chopped green chilli and  grated cucumber( discarding the juice)  well with the curd. Now there’s a great dip for crackers and chips.

About Paddy

When I married and came to Bangalore, it was a real ‘Pensioners’ Paradise.’ The climate was as today’s generation would say – ‘Awesome’. It was cool and pleasant throughout the year. My parents cautioned me to keep warm and have given me the loveliest Kashmir shawls, which I treasure to this day. Since I could not distinguish between rice and dal, cooking was an uphill task. I had a cook from Kerala, but the cold weather did not suit her and in a month’s time, she went back. Looking back, I have come a long way now… Cooking for me has metamorphosed from a daily routine of making edible and nutritious food for my family to an exciting journey of creativity by experimenting with different flavors and ingredients. To me, food is not only for nourishment and sustenance. Its taste and flavors take us back to our good times too. Food is nostalgia and comfort. It brings home our culture. Food is a treat and nourishment for the soul too. I dedicate this blog to my parents, who instilled in me a strong sense of ethics and discipline, and whose affection, love and support gives me strength in this journey of life. I feel the need of today’s generation, who come away from their homes and crave for home cooked food. To you too, I dedicate this blog, where I will share the recipes that I have learnt and grown to love over the years.


13 thoughts on “Kalan – Kerala Kalan Recipe – The King Of Sadya

  1. Great effort! God bless you for this effort.Mouth watering is the expression one would immediately recall!!These memories are from the roots and good for stomach, heart & the soul too!

    Posted by Achuthan S Nair | February 1, 2012, 12:43 PM
  2. You are not only a good cook…Your persistence for details is what makes you soooo different. Loved your Blog and will follow it closely…!!!!! Be aware that the secrets of your mouth watering dishes will now be public…..

    Posted by thampi | February 2, 2012, 6:46 AM
  3. Oh great! This is a recipe I have wanted for so long… thank you for putting it up…
    (P.S. The Kalan looks AWESOME!!!)

    Posted by Divya | February 2, 2012, 8:04 AM
  4. Dear Padmini,

    Excellent blog….Pleasure to see the photographs..Even the minute details are explained so well in each recipe! All the very best….Eagerly waiting for the next one…

    Posted by Rema | February 4, 2012, 10:13 PM
  5. Great pictures, spot on recipes, Padmini Chechi! My friend’s daughter is getting married this month- this blog will definitely be a welcome help in the kitchen. I could almost get a whiff of the ‘kalan” and “ishtoo” on seeing the pictures and reading your explanations. Your childhood memories are also a lovely part of the blog….Do keep writing!

    Posted by sreelatha | February 6, 2012, 11:50 AM
  6. Finally! The elusive ‘Kalan’ recipe has made it’s appearance!!
    Hope her ‘avial’ will find it’s way here too.
    Eagerly waiting for that.

    Posted by Raj | February 13, 2012, 6:32 PM
  7. What is life wihtout kalan once in a while? And truly fit for kings. I have not used jeera while grinidng the coconut-curd paste so far, will adding/omitting it change the flavour singinficantly? Also, is it ok to grind the black pepper with the coconut?

    Posted by Rajani | June 15, 2012, 9:07 AM
    • Thank you for visiting my blog,Rajani. I have always associated the typical Kalan taste with the coconut – jeera flavour.Omitting jeera does change the taste .But it is a question of personal preferences.It is preferable to add the pepper when cooking the vegetables as its flavour is absorbed.

      Posted by Paddy | June 20, 2012, 8:24 PM

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