Kaalan is a Keralite dish made of yogurt, coconut and vegetables like raw plantain (nendra kaya) and a tuber like elephant yam (chena). It is a very thick and sour dish. The yogurt used in the preparation of this dish has to be very sour, to get the typical and traditional taste of the kaalan served during the Kerala feasts (sadhya), during Onam and Hindu marriages. It tastes best when cooked in an earthen pot (manchatti) or a stone pot(kalchatti).
At home the thick and loose versions of Kaalan is often prepared. The kaalan that is typically served during sadhyas is the thicker version often known as Kurukku (thick) Kaalan. Here is the recipe of the sadhya kaalan or Kurukku kaalan.
1 raw plantain
100 grams Indian yam
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
3/4 teaspoon pepper powder
1 liter whisked sour yogurt
1 1/2 cup grated coconut
5 green chillies
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 tablespoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
4 whole red chillies
1/2 teaspoon roasted and powdered fenugreek
- Peel the plantain and split into half lengthwise. Now slice each half into 1 inch semi circles and keep it aside immersed in water.(This is done to prevent the blackening of the plantain pieces)
- Peel and wash the yam. Chop into bite sized pieces.
- Cook the chopped yam and plantain with turmeric powder, pepper powder and salt in little water.
- Once cooked add the whisked yogurt to it and continue cooking until all the water is absorbed and it becomes dry and thick.
- Grind grated coconut, green chilllies and cumin seeds into a very fine paste.
- Add this to the cooked vegetables and yogurt mix. Mix well and cook for a minute more and then remove from flame.
- For tempering, heat the coconut oil in a pan. Add the mustard seeds. Once it splutters add the red chillies broken into half. Off the flame and pour this into the prepared curry.
- Finally sprinkle the fenugreek powder on top and close with a lid, so that the aroma lingers in the dish.
- Serve after 5- 10 minutes with hot chembavari rice.