Pumpkin and Cowpeas Stew

Olan; a Kerala recipe made with just 7 ingredients in 30 min

Kerala Olan
Total Time (Mins): 
Prep Time (Mins): 
Cook Time (Mins): 

Red Pumpkin: 200 gm 
Red Cowpeas: 3/4 th cup (soaked and cooked)
Thin coconut Milk: 1 cup
Thick coconut Milk: 2 ½ cups
Green Chili: 2-3
Salt to taste

Shallots: 7-8 (thinly sliced)
Mustard Seeds: 1 tsp
Curry Leaves: 5-6
Coconut Oil: 2 tbsp

Cooking Method: 
Boiling, Frying
Skill Level: 

1) Cook cowpeas in 2 cups of water in a pressure cooker for 1 whistle. Cool. Drain the water. Reserve the cow peas.

2) Chop pumpkin into 2 inch thick cubes. Add green chilies (slit lengthwise) and thin coconut milk to the pumpkin. Steam for 10-12 min on a low flame till pumpkin is cooked through. Stir lightly. Do not break the pieces and turn it mushy.

3) Add the cowpeas to the pumpkin mixture. Add salt and heat it on a medium flame. 

4) Heat oil in a fry pan. Add mustard seeds. Allow to splutter. Add sliced shallots and fry till dark golden brown on a low flame. Add curry leaves. Heat for 1 min. Remove from heat and cool for 5-7 min.

5) Add thick coconut milk to the pumpkin mixture. Keep stirring on a medium heat for 3-4 min. Do not boil. Steam vapors should just rise from the surface. Remove from heat.

6) Stir for 3 min so that heat does not become localized and curdle the coconut milk.

7) Add the tempering from step 4 to the pumpkin mixture. Stir well. 


Common Mistakes: 

1) If you see curdling while using thin coconut milk, it goes away after the addition of thick coconut milk.

2) Do not boil the curry after the addition of thick coconut milk or it curdles.

3) Frying the shallots till slightly darker brown and caramelized adds to the flavor. Do not burn it. Maintain low heat.



1) Thick Coconut milk (first extract): Take 1 cup scraped fresh coconut. Add 1 cup of warm water. Grind well. Strain to separate milk from residue. Reserve the residue. This is the first extract. Do not boil the first extract as it curdles.

2) Thin Coconut milk (second extract): Take the residue from the first milk extraction. Add 2 cups of warm water. Grind well for 3-4 min. Strain the residue to get second milk extract. The second milk extract can be boiled when added to curries.

3) Curry slightly thickens on cooling giving a creamy texture.

4) Add additional green chili for spicy taste.


Alternative Ingredients: 

1) Substitute shallots with 1 small onion

2) Substitute coconut oil with cooking oil

3) Substitute pumpkin with other squashes



Serve with appams, bread, rice or Indian rotis

Dish Type: