Kaalan recipe for Onam

serves 6

  • 1 ½ cups curd, beaten and best if slightly sour
  • ½ cup yam, cubed ½ “ x ½ “
  • 1 cup green plantain, cubed ½ “ x ½ “
  • ½ cup coconut, grated
  • ¼ + ¼ tsp pepper powder
  • ¼ + ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 green chillies, chopped
  • ¼ tsp cumin seeds
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 2 dried red chillies, broken into two pieces each
  • 2 ½ tbsp ghee / coconut oil
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 sprigs curry leaves
  • Salt to taste

Boil the yam and banana with ¼ tsp turmeric powder, pepper and salt and set aside*.
Boil the beaten curd along with turmeric powder and pepper powder, stirring all the time while bringing it to a boil to avoid splitting. Set it aside and let it cool.
Heat ¼ tbsp ghee / coconut oil and slightly roast the fenugreek seeds, powder and set aside**.

Grind the grated coconut along with the cumin seeds and green chillies along with ¼ cup water on high speed in a mixer grinder to a fine paste and set aside***.

In a pan, heat the 1 ½ tbsp ghee / coconut oil on low flame and add the cooked vegetables to it and toss gently. Add the ground coconut paste and mix well followed by the addition of the cooked curd mixture. Bring the Mixture to a gentle simmer and remove from heat.
Heat ¾ tbsp ghee / coconut oil in a frying pan and temper the mustard seeds. Add the broken red chillies and curry leaves soon. Toss in the powdered fenugreek seeds and remove from heat. Add the tempered mix to the vegetable and curd mixture and mix well. Kaalan is ready to be served.
*Add salt once the vegetables are half cooked. If the salt is added in the beginning, it may prevent the yam from cooking well.
**The fenugreek seeds can be added at the end without powdering if you like crunch bits in your Kaalan.
***Use the high speed dial in the Elgi Ultra Duramix 750p mixer grinder for 45 seconds to achieve a fine consistency.
The final Kaalan has to be thick and sour. Owing to the way it is prepared, the Kaalan will stay longer compared to the other dishes in the sadya.

Suma Ravishakar was born in Kerala but grew up in Trichy, Tamil Nadu. She admits she knew no cooking until she got married. Living in Sharjah, she learnt to cook from her mother, her husband and her husband’s relatives. She fondly remembers the gatherings when everyone met during festivals, bringing food from their homes and sharing amongst friends and family.
She has mastered the culinary traditions of the Palakkad region as her family hails from there. Her husband, Ravi’s family is from the Trivandrum region and she has learnt to cook dishes from there as well. She finds a clear distinction in the cooking styles and ingredients used between these two regions, yet enjoys and appreciates both.
Suma is currently working as a teacher in Coimbatore, teaching Math and Science to Grade 1 students. She indulges in embroidery in her spare time and enjoys listening to Illayaraja songs.

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