Friday, December 11, 2009

Olan Stew

Almost a year ago we had my husbands friend, 'V' over from work. He had recently returned from India for his sisters wedding. He showed us pictures from her wedding and I was truly amazed and mystified with all the colors and tradition. Very beautiful. Now, over a year later, he and his wife are settling into their new life together. Last year I had made for 'V' Olan stew. I never posted a pic because my dear husband had eaten it all before I had a chance to get a pic. (ugh!) Not this year. I put my 'do not eat' sign on it so I could photograph it. We just had it for dinner the other night, just because, just me and DH. The kids had Mac and Cheese and we ate my nouveau South Indian, Olan stew.

" Olan is an essential dish in the traditional Kerala Onam Sadya and even for wedding sadya." (Edible Garden) I will share with you a little of what I learned. By no means do I claim to have knowledge about this subject, so for sure don't quote me, I will just share some highlights that I have learned and some quotes from other people to give you the gist of some of the beauty that is the Kerala wedding.

When women are about to marry they have their hands painted for the ceremony. It takes quite a while to dry. According to our friends new wife 'T', the tradition was originally Muslim, but has long been adopted by other cultures including those in Southern India. If you want to see some amazingly beautiful hands, click here. This image is borrowed from the Florida Department of Health.

"Henna is typically used in Hindu and Muslim celebrations. There are also other myths surrounding that reddish-brown tattoo. The most popular beliefs are the deeper the color, the stronger the bond between bride and mother-in-law. [With henna on her hands], the bride doesn’t have to do any household work—she is pampered and cared for. Every family has different oral traditions about the meaning of henna, but the housework exemption is important in that traditionally the bride goes to live with her in-laws after marriage. This exemption from housework allows her to bond with her new husband and family. This tradition is also followed when a woman is hennaed during the childbirth time, to allow her time to bond with her infant child." (Indian Bride SA, The Meaning of Mehndi)

"The traditional Hindu wedding is a deeply meaningful and symbolic combination of rituals and traditions. It is a ceremony that is about 4000 years old. Each phase of the ceremony has a symbolic, philosophical, and spiritual meaning. The ceremony not only to joins the souls of the bride and groom, but also creates a strong tie between two families. The ceremony is traditionally performed in Sanskrit, which is the language of ancient India and Hinduism. Today the ceremony will be performed both in Sanskrit and English. " (Devasthanam)

Olan Stew
adapted from this recipe.

1/2 cup black eyed peas or you could use a can of garbanzo beans
1 1/2 cups amber squash, skinned and diced
1 can lite coconut milk
5 curry leaves
salt to taste
1 clove of garlic sliced
*you can add chilis in your soup, I add mine to my bowl because I like it spicy

Cook the garbanzo beans in 2 cups of water till soft. Drain and set aside.

In a soup pot, cook squash with a 1/2 cup water, lid on, until soft. When the squash becomes tender add coconut milk and curry leaves and simmer for a few minutes till the soup thickens. Serve soup with rice.


Mary said...

I loved this post. It is so nice to get cultural background with great recipes. Thank you.

Katy ~ said...

I love this style cooking. This is something that the allergic to everything kid can eat and enjoy. Thank you for a terrific recipe. Loved the background info. I so enjoy learning about other cultures and traditions. Helps me to understand people and appreciate them even more.

Grace said...

what an interesting tradition--thanks for a peek into a new culture! the soup looks perfectly simple, straightforward, and satisfying. :)

kat said...

I bet that is delicious & it has such gorgeous color.

Ingrid said...

Love the little history lesson. Hummanities was my favorite class in high school and in college.

Robin Sue said...

The soup sounds delicious- I have heard of curry but never curry leaves. Where would one find those? Love the henna hands picture, so interesting!