Sunday, 28 October 2012

Authentic Kerala Onam Recipe: Kalan

You should definitely try out this Kalan recipe, if you are preparing for an Onam feast. An onam sadya has more than 25 dishes. Nowadays, only 10-15 dishes are made in most homes.  Kalan, is one dish that is never omitted from an onam sadya. It is made of plantains and yams, cooked in yoghurt based gravy with coconut paste.

For normal everyday cooking, I skip the yam part. It’s a delicious dish, when made with just the plantains. I make the same recipe using raw bananas or slightly ripe ones for an even yummier taste. I sauté the chopped bananas in ghee, before cooking it, rather than add it after the cooking. That’s just personal preference. The recipe given below is the authentic version of Kalan.


1.       Raw plantain -1, diced
2.       Yam/ chena – 1 cup, diced
3.       Pepper powder – 1 tsp
4.       Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
5.       Salt – to taste
6.       Water – to cook
7.       Ghee – 1 tbsp

Cook the diced yam and plantain with pepper and salt, in adequate water. When the water dries up, add the ghee and cook for a few minutes.

8.       Sour Curd – 2-3 cups
9.       Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
10.   Salt – to taste

Beat the curd lightly adding turmeric and salt. Keep aside.

11.   Grated coconut – 1 cup
12.   Cumin seeds – ½ tsp
13.   Green chillies – 3
14.   Turmeric – ¼ tsp

Grind the coconut with other ingredients to a very smooth paste, adding very little water. Add this to the cooked vegetables and continue cooking till the gravy is thick.

15.   Roasted Fenugreek powder – ½ tsp

Add fenugreek powder and cook. Stir occasionally and make sure it is not allowed to boil.

16.   Coconut Oil – 1 tbsp
17.   Mustard seeds – 1tsp
18.   Curry leaves – 1 sprig
19.   Dry red chilly -1

Heat oil, add mustard seeds. When they splutter, add remaining ingredients. Cook for a minute and pour this over the prepared curry.

Grandmas Secret Tips:

  • Kalan tastes better the next day, so make it a day before the sadya.
  • In step 1, cook the plantains and yam in buttermilk for an added taste.
  • Fenugreek is roasted dry or in a tsp of oil. It is cooled and then powdered to make the roasted fenugreek powder.
  • ¼ to ½ tsp of roasted fenugreek is added to kalan, either after adding the coconut paste or along with the tempering oil at the end.
  • Boiling the gravy will cause curdling.
  • Pressure cook the yam for one whistle and then add the chopped plantain, for easier and quicker cooking


  1. Hi Anju! How many serving is this recipe? I'd love to try this out tomorrow for our family dinner. Is it okay though if I add lots of turmeric/curcumin powder?

    1. Hi Sweetlady, where are you from?
      As a side dish to rice, this recipe should serve four people. Turmeric is a strong spice, you can double the quantity for health reasons. 1/2 tsp to cook the vegetable and 1/2 tsp with the grated coconut.Adding any more might affect the taste of the dish. The curry is generally light yellow in color, additional turmeric will give it a stronger yellow shade. You can incorporate more turmeric in the meal by making different side dishes like cabbage thoran and potato mezhukkupuratti. A typical kerala rice meal will have a curry,a thoran and a mezhukkupuratti.

      Make sure you let me know how it turned out :) Enjoy your meal!