There are two things that I always associate with my hometown of Kerala. The sticky, humid summers and the torrential rain. Since we used to end up in Kerala during the lovely rains thanks to the scorching heat of Kuwait, it was only after I started going to college in India that I was exposed to the damning heat of God’s own country.
Honestly during those months, it’s very like being in Hell’s Own Paradise with the constant rivulets of sweat exposing the most vicious person in you. Everyone descends into an irritable silence at home during such days, and if god forbid the power decides to take a hike, all hell will break lose.
On those days, cooking is an absolute nightmare. Any time near the hot stove is bound to make you sweat a river and I think that’s the reason why many of the curries we make during this time of the year are simple, easy and fuss free.
One such genius dish is the olan. It’s a simple, mild curry made mostly with ash gourd and cow peas and is just so, so good with rice and some pickle. Instantly cooking your heated system, it’s got the perect balance of flavours for summer.
My grandfather loved olan. This rather uninspiring looking dish, was hugely popularised by him amongst the family.
After licking his plate clean on being served this, he would say, with a twinkle in his eye:
“If Sambhar is the king, then Olan is the minister. “
And so it has always been for us.
And did I mention it’s also one of the standard fares for the sadya?