“When I was young
I’d listen to the radio
Waitin’ for my favorite songs
When they played I’d sing along
It made me smile.” – The Carpenters
How truly these words of Karen Carpenter describe my passion for music?? Before cable, internet & TV remade and revolutionised the entertainment scene, when all was quiet, calm and peaceful on the home front, I had a faithful little box which followed me around, much like Mary’s little lamb. And everywhere that I went, this delightful companion was sure to follow! Tuning to stations airing Malayalam, Tamil, Hindi and English songs, enthralled me!
Was I lucky to listen when the best of lyrics were tuned to the most divine music, or am I being nostalgic? Who can forget those lilting, wonderful songs of Vayalar and Devarajan Master like “Ayiram Padasarangal Kilungi…” and “Sanyasini….” , the haunting melodies of Bhaskaran Master and Baburaj like “Oru kotta ponnundallo…” and “Anjana Kanna Ezhuthi…,or the ethereal music of Salil Chaudhury in “Chemmeen” and “Nellu” ? And not feel a tug at the heartstrings? In English the numbers from Abba & “The Black Superman” set my foot tapping.
Today these songs have become a timeless echo of my childhood days spend cocooned in the magical musical world. During the wonder years, I especially liked Olan that Amma served for every special occasion as part of the Sadya. The sweetness that the coconut milk brings to the dish blends very well with the heat of the chilli and the aroma of the curry leaves. Yet, overall the flavor of this dish is very simple and subtle.
Serves: 6 Preparation Time: 15 mins Cook Time: 30 mins
- Cowpeas / Vanpayuru) – 100 gms (wash and soak overnight)
- Ashgourd /Kumbalanga -500 gms*(cut 2 cms square,slice thin)
- Coconut milk – First extract-one cup, Second extract -one cup ( Taken from half coconut grated)**
- Green chillies – 4 (slit lengthwise)
- Curry leaves – 1 stalk
- Coconut oil – 1 Tbsp
- Salt – to taste
Method of preparation:
- Cook cowpeas in a pressure cooker for about 10 minutes and keep aside.
- Add ashgourd, 2 green chillies,the second coconut milk and salt to the cowpeas in a thick bottomed pan.
- Cook on low to medium flame till the ashgourd is cooked well and the mixture is semi-dry. Alternately cook ashgourd with the ingredients in the pressure cooker for the duration of a whistle.
- Add first coconut milk and remove from fire immediately.
- Add remaining chillies, curry leaves and coconut oil. Close pan.
- After 10 minutes, Olan is ready, stir and serve.
* Pumpkin/ Mathanga can be used instead of ashgourd.
* * When using coconut milk powder, use thick coconut milk for the first extract and thin for the second.
Quick snack: Using a thick-bottomed pan, heat 1 tablespoon of butter or oil. Splutter 1 teaspoon of jeera, and 1 green chilly (finely chopped) . To this add corn (you can use frozen corn – thawed). Stir dry – about 5 minutes – on medium heat first and then on low heat. Add the juice of half a lemon, salt and freshly ground pepper,to this. Your corn snack is ready to serve.
Quick tip: When cutting vegetables, use a newspaper under the chopping board. All the easier to clean up.