Saturday, April 12, 2008

Kaalan- Ripe plantain & ash-gourd at its best relationship!

This post is part of SADYA VIBHAVANGAL – Learn to make the traditional Kerala Feast- An Artist’s Edible Palette !

The more you cook Kerala traditional dishes, the more you wonder about the similarities in the cooking method and yet the uniqueness in flavor and taste each dish brings to the table. It might be a slight difference in the combination of ingredients ….or it could be an omission or addition of an ingredient…..or it could be a particular taste of the same ingredient used at a different phase of cooking…..or it could be a mix and match of a fruit and vegetable……whatever it may be, they are all unique and tasty. Kaalan is another proud entry, lined up in Sadya, and again depending on the regional differences, the consistency and ingredients of this dish vary from place to place. In some places it is a combination of plantain and yam, with a thin consistency. At my place, my mother pairs Eathappazham/ripe bananas with Kumbalanga/ash-gourd and it has a thick consistency.

Ingredients: - (Approx.)
For cooking:
  • ½- ¾ cup ripe plantain/Eathappazham and ash-gourd/kumbalanga , diced into small pieces
  • 2 green chillies, chopped into small pieces
  • ½ inch piece of ginger, thinly sliced
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • ¼ tsp red chilly powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Water to cook banana and ash-gourd
For grinding
  • ¾ cup grated coconut
  • 2 Indian green chillies
  • 1 small clove of garlic
  • ¼ tsp cumin seeds, jeera
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • 3-4 curry leaves
  • Salt to taste
¾ cup thick homemade curd

For seasoning:

  • 1tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 dry red chillies
  • ¼ tsp fenugreek seeds/Uluva
  • 4-6 curry leaves
  • Grind grated coconut, green chillies, garlic, cumin seeds, turmeric powder and curry leaves with a dash of salt into a fine and smooth paste and keep aside.
  • In a deep vessel, cook ripe banana pieces and ash-gourd, mildly spiced with green chillies, ginger, turmeric powder, red chilly powder in little water, just enough to cook the fruit and veggie.
  • While fruit and vegetable is cooking, heat oil in a shallow pan and splutter mustard seeds, dry red chillies, fenugreek seeds and tear off some curry leaves and add to this. Transfer this to a small deep bowl and keep aside. In the same pan, sauté the ground coconut paste for a minute and pour it to the cooked banana-ash-gourd mixture and gently blend everything well and cook for a minute or two. Remove the vessel from the heat and now add the thick homemade curd; stir continuously while adding curd and then bring the vessel back to the stove and stir occasionally, in medium heat, until it starts to boil. Let it boil for a minute, without letting the curd to curdle. (Note: You need to be very careful at this stage because if you stop stirring for a while, it will boil immediately and curdle. So stay away from phone calls and other chores.) Do a taste –test and adjust the flavors. Switch off the stove and transfer the vessel from the stove and keep stirring gently for another minute as the bowl is still hot and hence it will continue to boil until the temperature of the bowl subsides. At this stage, pour the seasoning, which was made earlier, to the dish and stir gently. Let it rest for minimum 30 minutes and then serve with rice. Tastes best the next day.

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  1. Mismash,

    In your directions to cook Kalan, on the second step you mentioned about cooking mangoes and this may be a typeo. Does the regular super markets in US carry the ash gourd? Your posts are very interesting.


  2. Good catch! Thanks:)

    Look for winter melons/white melons in asian or oriental or chinese stores. they wouldnt understand if you ask for ash-gourd and in american stores, I have not found this veggie.

  3. This is my fav dish at Onam! I am lucky to be able to get ash gourd from my local Indian grocer, so will be trying this.

  4. Found the ingredients very interesting! We use tender Ash gourd/elavan for moru kootan; the traditional sadya Kaalan is plain: with the flavour of black pepper's. Other than that, unripe plantains and Elephant yams are added. Ginger and Garlic are never featured.

  5. I came across your website while hunting for recipes. what a joy to read. particularly love the photos.

  6. great post, thanks for sharing

  7. great post, thanks for sharing

  8. Tried the Kaalan recipe sucessfully...thanks so much...It was one of the last dishes my grandmother made for me, and she died without passing on the recipe...

    I've been obsessing over your website for over a long time now ...great presentation...I thought I'll finally leave a comment

  9. Hey! My roommate has recommended me to read your resource. And I’d like to say that I really value what you’re posting here.


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