If you are from North Kerala, then you might have heard of this dish. I will begin with explaining about this dish to those of you, who have never even heard the name of this dish, like DD 😛 The first time I was making sadya at home for Onam, I was listing down the dishes I wanted to make for the big feast. Kalan was for sure the No. 1 placeholder. Well, after making the dish, as a general practice, I gave some to DD for tasting and asked for his feedback. He tasted it but I could see confusion all over his face. I thought the dish hasn’t come out well and he is struggling to put it in ‘polite’ words. But then I realized that he was confused about what this dish was and since he had never had it before, he didn’t know what feedback to give 😀 LOL, that was hilarious. I realized then that this dish is not made in the southern part of Kerala from where he belongs. However, he said that the dish as such was really good and that definitely wasn’t to just keep my heart 😛
Well, having said that, even if you haven’t heard of this dish, this is a ‘must have’ dish in your Sadya Ila(Banana leaf). Kalan has been my favorite among all the other sadya vibhavangal(Dishes made for Onam). The other day, I served this dish to our friends who don’t belong to Kerala and I was pleasantly surprised that they absolutely loved the dish too.
Raw banana/Pacha kaya(cubed) – 3/4 cup
Yam(cubed)/Chena(cubed) – 3/4 cup
Red chilli powder – 1/4 tsp
Turmeric powder – 3/4 tsp
Black Pepper powder – 1/4 tsp
Fenugreek powder – 2 pinch
(Dry roasted and powdered)
Yogurt/Curd(should be sour) – 2 tbsp
Mustard seeds – 1/4 tsp
Dry red chilli – 2 nos
Curry leaves – 1 strand
Oil(Coconut oil preferred) – 1 tbsp
Salt – to taste(apprx. 1/2 tsp)
Rice flour(optional) – 2 tsp
Grated Coconut – 1 cup
Green chilli – 2-3 nos
Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
1. In a saucepan or a steel/aluminium vessel, using very minimal water(about 3/4th cup), boil yam and raw banana. For this, first put cubed yam since it takes more time to boil. After about 5-6 mins, add cubed raw banana.
2. To this add red chilli powder, turmeric powder and half the amount of salt. Cover with a lid and let it boil in medium flame. Stir occasionally so the vegetables don’t stick to the bottom of the vessel. Add little water if it becomes too dry. The vegetables should become really soft so it can be mashed coarsely.
3. Meanwhile, in a blender/mixie, put all the ingredients mentioned under ‘To grind’ section and make it into a smooth paste.
4. Once the vegetables are cooked, add the ground coconut paste and stir well. Using a spoon, mash the vegetables coarsely.
5. Let it cook for 3-4 mins and then add yogurt and mix well. Add the remaining salt, cook for 2-3 mins and remove from the burner.
6. Now add the ground black pepper and roasted fenugreek powder and give it a mix.
7. Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds and when it splutters, add broken dry red chilli. Once the red chilli turns light brown, add curry leaves and garnish the prepared curry with this seasoning and give a mix.
Note: You must be wondering why I have put ‘Rice flour’ in the ingredients list and never used it. Kalan should be ideally a thick and rich gravy and not very loose. In case you accidentally add more water for boiling the vegetables or your yogurt is too thin and the curry looks watery, add the rice flour to thicken the gravy. You can add rice flour after you put the ground coconut paste and let it cook for 4-5 mins and then add the yogurt. Once you put yogurt, don’t cook for long and don’t cook in high flame else the yogurt will curdle. Also stir frequently after adding yogurt.
TIP: Now this is a Golden Secret recipe tip for you 🙂 If ever, for any of your south Indian cooking, you feel that your gravy is too thin and you want to thicken the gravy, add little rice flour and you will see the magic. Don’t worry, it doesn’t change the taste at all 🙂 This for sure was a very useful tip I got from my mom and it comes in very handy when something doesn’t go right!