19 August, 2008

A Campaign to Heal & Some Olan


Dear Valli of Cooking 4 All Seasons is my blog friend and since past few days we have become really close by exchanging long e-mails every other day. Mother of three adorable kids and full-time working woman, she is a good representative of modern Indian woman. Recently she mailed me about Anita Lakshmi, 28 years old with two small children, who is been diagnosed with Coronary Artery disease. Coming from an economically disadvantage family they are struggling to raise money for her surgery.
In Valli’s own words,
The darkest hour is just before the dawn. When in despair, you wait fervently, praying that night passes away quickly. Waiting for the hope to peep in. Wishing that ray of hope, to guide you away from difficulties. But for some unfortunate souls, hope never comes their way. They desperately wish that night never passes, for they don't have help, no means to get away from their difficulties. They, with heavy heart want to forget, slumbering the night away, wishing everything is fine.
Valli has undertaken a fundraising drive to help Lakshmi and the target is to raise enough money for her operation and other costs. To achieve this we need to raise about 15,000 US dollars by 15th September, 2008. Lakshmi desperately needs to be operated within 5-6 months and she needs all our support, in every possible ways.

Few blogger friends have offered to give away exciting raffle prizes for this cause. One lucky winner will get a copy of this wonderful book called “Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World: 75 Dairy-Free Recipes for Cupcakes that Rule” from me. The bidding amount to win this prize from me is $25 and it will be shipped to USA and UK residents only. You can read raving reviews of this book here and here.


Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World: 75 Dairy-Free Recipes for Cupcakes that Rule
A sweet and sassy guide to baking everyone's favourite treat without using any animal products. This unique cookbook contains over 50 recipes for cupcakes and frostings some innovative, some classics with beautiful full colour photographs.
Bid amount: US $25
Code: Sia_Vegan Cupcake
Shipping: USA and UK only
Book Reviews: Here & Here

Please click the chip-in button to make your donations and be assured it is a secure transaction through Pay Pal and goes directly to Lakshmi’s account. Once you get the confirmation mail from Pay Pal, please forward that mail to Valli at lakshmi[dot]fundraising[at]gmail[dot]com and don’t forget to mention your choice of raffle prize, bidding amount, and location. You can support this campaign by donating to the fundraiser and also by spreading the word. Please find more information and also updates at Valli’s site. Contributors list will be updated HERE. Check what others have offered for Raffle prizes HERE.

To add this Chip-In button to your site, click on “Copy” within the widget. Copy and paste the code generated on your posts or sidebar.

This month lovely Zlamushka is featuring one of my favourite blogs, Jugalbandits oops, Jugalbandi for her Tried & Tasted event ;) I didn’t want to miss this chance of cooking something from their witty, humorous, and wonderful blog. These two are nature lovers, small time farmers (he he..look at the fresh produce from their backyards), health conscious, wonderful bakers and brilliant photographers. Visiting their blog is a pure joy, enriching and uplifting. One of these days I am sure to get caught by my boss for reading their blog during office hours as most of their new posts show up on my feeder at this time and I simply can’t resist reading it then and there. Bee and Jai, its pleasure knowing you two through your blog and I hope you continue with your Jugalbandi for many more years.

The recipe I chose to cook from their blog is Olan. I was looking for simple and quick recipe which also uses very few ingredients and Olan was one such recipe. First time I tasted this when I visited my close friend’s house in Calicut and her mom served us this delicious coconut stew with Black eyed peas and Winter Melon/Ash Gourd with Idiyappams or Rice Noodles. The aroma wafting from big terracotta pot in which it was cooked was intoxicating and the taste of it still lingers. Wonder why it took this long for me to cook it. Better be late than never.

I almost followed their recipe to T but used British Cucumber in place of Ash gourd as I didn’t have any. The idea to use Cucumber is from our lovely Punjabi Kudi, Musical, who had mentioned it in the comment section. I was not sure if she was mentioning Yellow Cucumber which is what we usually use in cooking or usual Cucumber we get here. I peeled the cucumber and deseed before adding them and to my surprise it tasted almost like Yellow Cucumber and very close to Ash Gourd. And I also cooked potato and beans together in a pressure cooker to save gas energy. I made it in large quantity and the leftovers we had on next day tasted much better than the one on first day. Will I be making this again? You bet. Thank you, Bee and Jai for this delicious recipe and this is on its way to Zlamushka’s T&T event.

Olan - Coconut Based Stew from Kerala

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Olan (Coconut based Stew with Black Eyed Peas and Cucumber from Kerala)
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cooking Time: 25-30 mins
Serves: 4-5
Recipe Source: Jugalbandi

1 cup Black Eyed Beans/Alasande Beeja
1 large Potato, peeled and halved
½ British Cucumber, peeled, deseeded and cut into bite size pieces (Original recipe calls for Ash Gourd/Winter Melon or Yellow Pumpkin)
4-5 Green Chillies, slit
1 can (approx 1½ cups) Coconut Milk (I used canned ones. Feel free to use fresh one)
2 strings of Fresh Curry Leaves
1 tbsp Coconut Oil (Optional)
Salt to taste

Olan - Coconut Based Stew from Kerala

Wash and place beans in a pressure cooker with 2 cups of water. To this add halved potatoes and little salt and cook covered for 15 mins or 1 whistle. Alternatively you can cook the beans and potatoes separately on vessels till they are cooked. Once the pressure is released, open the pressure cooker lid and dice potatoes into bite sized pieces. Keep them aside.
In a sauce pan, bring 2 cups of water to boil. To this add cooked potatoes, diced cucumber and also slit green chillies. Cover and cook for 5-7 mins until the vegetables are tender.
Add coconut milk to the pan and gently stir in under low heat.
Now add cooked beans and curry leaves and mix well. Allow the beans to heat through by stirring at low flame for 2-3 mins.
Switch off the flame and mix a tbsp of coconut oil. You can skip adding the oil but it sure adds more flavour. Cover and let it rest for 10 mins for all the flavour to blend well.
Serve this delicious Olan with Rice Noodles or Rosematta Rice or just plain steamed rice and enjoy. It tastes better the next day.

Reminder for JFI-Soya:
I invite you all to celebrate Jihva for Ingredients with this month’s theme JFI-Soya. Choice of Soya products, the recipe, ingredients, method etc is entirely left to you. I would greatly appreciate if you can send me any Vegan or Vegetarian recipes but I leave it to your choice. Soya foods include tofu, tempeh, textured vegetable protein (chunks, mince etc), miso, soya sauces, soya oil and margarine, and soya dairy alternatives.

Deadline: 31st August, 2008

Please go through the guidelines and include all the required information in your post and also in your e-mail while sending your entry. Don't forget to add Your Name, Your Blog Name, Name of the Dish, Type of Dish and Perm Link of the entry along with the gorgeous Photo of final dish.

Click Here or on the logo to find out more information on this event.


  1. that olan looks delicious. thanks for the kind words, dear sia. we have lots of crookneck squash. this is a good way to use it. thanks for the reminder.

  2. Sia, thank you so very much for the support! The post is really so beautifully written.

    and olan is out of the world..as usual pictures are out of the world!

  3. What a great choice. I love olan - and the cucumber is a cool idea!

  4. Olan sounds like a simple and delicious dish, I'll definitely try it. Valli emailed me about Anita Lakshmi also. I'm going to post about it on Saturday and hope that we meet the target soon especially as we add more prizes.

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  6. Very well written post Sia..so kind of u. Pics r beautiful.

    I hvnt tasted olan before.. idakke bere entharu hesaru idda?

  7. Olan looks delicious and me too in the same plane reading few of my favorite blo posts then and there :) and our bosses should understand ;)

  8. Wll written Sia.....Pics are beautiful and Olan is awesome.....

  9. Hope laxshmi recover soon...i realy admire u and srivalli for this..great job...i have too contributed from my side and my prayers for her...
    ur olan looks delicious.. will plan to make it during onam..

  10. such a yummy dish, i'm eyeing the handi that you served it in ;) a recent buy from ur India trip? :)

  11. Word beautifully put together Sups!!
    Hope we all can chip in and help lakshmi. I am pretty sure that when all bloggers come together for a great cause like this, anything is possible.
    Valli mailed me as well but I was off on holiday for 20 days so slowly getting back to work n events.

  12. Beautifully presented and captured Sia.
    Love th ingredients in olan.

  13. been meaning to make this for a while now but i have a feeling TH won't take to it as i would want him to :)

  14. Hi Sia,
    thank you so much for participating, I am truly happy to have you on board AND as Blog Of The Month.
    I have already cooked from your blog numerous times and L-O-V-E-D it :-)


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