Oolan - Vegetables in Cococnut Milk Sauce

This simple dish of delicate vegetables cooked in coconut milk and spiced with fresh green chilies and curry leaves is a must at all feasts. Coconut milk has a tendency to separate when cooked at high temperatures, so be careful not to let it get too hot.

1 cup ash gourd or zucchini, cut into half-inch cubes
1 cup shelled black-eyed peas (thawed if frozen), or 1 cup tender black-eyed peas in pods, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 to 4 fresh green chilies (serrano or Thai), slit lengthwise (less for a milder taste)
Salt to taste
3 cups coconut milk*

For seasoning and garnish:
2 tablespoons coconut oil
12 to 15 fresh curry leaves

Place the cut vegetables and green chilies in a saucepan and pour in enough water to cover. Stir in the salt, and cook over medium heat, until the vegetable cubes are fork tender. Pour in coconut milk and bring to a slow boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer for five minutes. Remove from the stove, and garnish with coconut oil and fresh curry leaves. Stir gently and keep covered for ten minutes, to allow flavors to blend. Serve hot with plain boiled rice.

Makes 4 to 6 servings if served with another curry, as is traditional.

AMMINI RAMACHANDRAN