Ash Gourd & Black-Eyed Peas Curry | Olan

Ash Gourd & Black-Eyed Peas Curry | Olan

One of my friends who tried olan for the first time said, ” It tastes like a bowl full of love!” Yeap, that pretty much sums it up. Black-eyed peas and ash gourd or winter melon are simmered in coconut milk and seasoned ever so lightly with fresh curry leaves, green chilis, and a drizzle of coconut oil. It’s so light and comforting that we often just drink it as soup. It’s also super kid-friendly; it’s been my daughter’s favorite dish consistently ever since she started eating solid food.

Black-eyed peas are high in protein and fiber, along with micronutrients such as folate, copper, and thiamine. A hundred grams of these peas have 330mg (80% DV) of magnesium which plays a large role in the development of serotonin, while even dark chocolate only has 146mg (35% DV). Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that mediates satisfaction, happiness, and optimism, so the whole “bowl full of love” makes a whole lot of sense! Both black-eyed peas and ash gourd are good sources of soluble fiber which means we feel full for a longer period of time and also doubles as delicious food for our gut bacteria, aka prebiotics. Studies have shown that regular intake of legumes can lower levels of total and LDL (bad) cholesterol, both of which can contribute to heart disease.

Olan is a must-have for a sadhya as well. Traditionally it’s made with coconut milk hand-squeezed from freshly grated coconut and is absolutely divine. But canned coconut milk means it goes from a once-in-a-blue-moon dish to a once-a-week meal and it still tastes pretty awesome. So here is my once-a-week, canned coconut milk, instant pot recipe for olan.


Ash Gourd & Black-Eyed Peas Curry | Olan

Black-eyed peas and ash gourd or winter melon is simmered in coconut milk and seasoned ever so lightly with fresh curry leaves, green chilis, and a drizzle of coconut oil.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Course Main Course, Sadhya, Side Dish, Soup
Cuisine Indian, Kerala
Servings 5 people


  • 1 cup black-eyed peas
  • 1 small ash gourd or winter melon
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 4 – 6 green chilis slit; deseed if you want to reduce the heat
  • 2 small sprigs curry leaves
  • salt to taste
  • 2-3 tbsp unrefined coconut oil


  • Young ash gourd, covered in a fuzzy coating of fine hairs, tastes the best. The bigger ones also taste pretty good, but if you have a choice, just keep in mind that the smaller fuzzy ones taste better.
    Ash gourd
  • Soak black-eyed peas in water for about 6 hours or overnight.
    Black-eyed peas
  • Put the black-eyed peas along with 3 cups of water in an instant pot or pressure cooker. Press the "Bean" setting on an instant pot or 7 mins high pressure in an electric cooker or 4-5 whistles in a pressure cooker.
    Black-eyed peas
  • Meanwhile, peel, deseed, and slice the ash gourd into chunky pieces like in the image.
    Ash gourd
  • Cooked black-eyed peas.
    Black-eyed peas
  • Now set it on simmer and add coconut milk, ash gourd, 1/2 a sprig of curry leaves, half of the green chilis, and salt. Add more coconut milk for a richer gravy.
  • When the ash gourd is cooked, turn off the heat and mix in coconut oil and the remaining curry leaves, and green chilis. Enjoy with rice or as soup.
Keyword Black-eyed peas

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