Avial, a side dish from Kerala cuisine is made with mixed vegetables in coconut curry with absolutely no spices. It is an integral part of the Sadhya feast and many other festivities. No festival in Kerala and many other South Indian states is complete without Avial.
It is completely Gluten-free and can be made Vegan friendly. It has absolutely no spices and very little oil.
About the Recipe
South Indian food is a delicious blend of spices and herbs like curry leaves. Like many North Indians, in my growing years I just knew about Idli, dosa and sambhar and 1-2 other dishes as South Indian food. But, as I started exploring different cuisines, I discovered that it is just not Idli Dosa. Now I try and experiment different dishes once in a while and even my kids are open to my food experiments.
I tried Avial in many South Indian and Udipi restaurants, but never made it. There are lot of recipes floating online. But, I wanted authentic Avial recipe. So I asked my college friend Suma, who hails from Kerala for the recipe. I made it as per her instructions have just made variation to the vegetables whichever were available to me. The final outcome was such a delicious treat. Even my kids loved it with when I served it to them with steamed rice.
So here is my version of Avial, a Sadhya and Vishu special delicacy.
What is Avial
Avial is a kind of stew made with mixed vegetables in a curry made with coconut paste. There are both dry and gravy versions which people make as per their preferences.
A bit of curd/tamarind or raw mango is added to add sourness. It is a kind of no oil recipe(just a tsp of coconut oil) and very limited spices are used. The unique flavour of this dish comes from fresh coconut, coconut oil, curry leaves and green chillies.
It is a very simple quick to make (under 30 mins) dish which you can even serve for your regular weekday meals with steamed rice.
Avial has it's origin in ancient mythology. Since then there are different versions of Avial from seasonal mixed vegetables to egg avial, ivy gourd or kovakkai avial, jackfruit avial and many more.
History of Avial
It is believed that Avial was invented accidentally by Bheema(one of the five Pandava) The legend says that when the Pandava were serving exile during Bheema worked as a cook at King Virat's kitchen. He invented the dish out of necessity at one time, when there were no vegetables to cook a single side dish. He took different leftover vegetables, cut in juliennes and cooked till soft. Then added grated coconut along with other ingredients. He named the dish as Avial. Though the dish was invented in North India, it travelled far across South India and become a staple there.
Ingredients to make Aviyal/Avial
Vegetables for Avial- A combination of various seasonal and locally available vegetables are used in the recipe. Ash Gourd, Raw Banana/Plantains, Pumpkin, Drumstick, Elephant Foot Yam, Mangalore Cucumber, Green Beans, Carrots, Ivy Gourd, unripe Jackfruit are used traditionally. Many recipes have potatoes also but she asked me to skip it.
For Coconut Paste- Fresh Coconut (grated or chunks), green chillies, cumin seeds. You can also use frozen coconut or even desiccated coconut. Soak desiccated coconut in water for a couple of minutes before grinding with other ingredients.
For Gravy/Curry- Coconut paste prepared by the above ingredients. Turmeric powder, Salt as per taste, Coconut oil, Sour curd. Vegans or those with lactose intolerance can use Cashew yogurt. You can also use Tamarind paste or raw mango for sourness.
How to make Sadhya Special Aviyal or Avial
- Beat curd to smooth mix.
- Prepare Vegetables- Wash the vegetables nicely. Peel vegetables like carrot, ash gourd. Cut vegetables in sticks or batons. Cut vegetables in almost same size, for even cooking. Keep cut raw banana in water else it will turn black.
- Make Coconut Paste- Make paste of coconut, cumin seeds and green chillies. Add green chillies as per the heat required. In the recipe we don't use any red chilli powder.
- In a pot/pan add about 1 cup water, salt and turmeric powder and add vegetables first which take more time to cook. I added drumsticks first and the gradually added other veggies. I added raw banana/plantains at last as it takes least time to cook.
- Cook vegetables till tender, not mushy. It should have a bite.
- Now add coconut paste, mix nicely, cover and cook for next 5-7 mins. Add more water if required.
- After the vegetables are cooked with coconut paste, add whisked curd and mix well.
- Add 8-10 curry leaves and a tsp of coconut oil.
- cover and leave the pan for flavours to infuse, and then serve with hot rice, dosa or appams.
Serve Avial(with curry) with steamed rice, papad and pickle. In South India people also have it dosa and adai.
- Pan/Pot for coking
- Chopping Board
- 1 cup Ash Gourd
- 1-2 Carrot
- 1-2 Raw Banana
- 5-6 Cut Drum Sticks
- ½ cup French Beans
- 14-15 Curry Leaves
- ¼ Cup Curd/Yogurt
- 1 tsp Coconut Oil
- ½ tsp Turmeric Powder
- Salt as required
- ½ cup Coconut paste
For Coconut Paste
- ½ cup Fresh Coconut grated or chunks
- 1 tsp Cumin Seeds
- 4-5 Green Chillies or as required
- Beat curd to smooth mix.¼ Cup Curd/Yogurt
- Wash the vegetables nicely. Peel vegetables like carrot, ash gourd. Cut vegetables in sticks or batons.1 cup Ash Gourd, 1-2 Carrot, 5-6 Cut Drum Sticks, ½ cup French Beans
- Cut vegetables in almost same size, for even cooking. Keep cut raw banana in water else it will turn black.1-2 Raw Banana
Make Coconut Paste
- Make paste of coconut, cumin seeds and green chillies. Add green chillies as per the heat required.½ cup Fresh Coconut, 1 tsp Cumin Seeds, 4-5 Green Chillies
- In a pot/pan take about 1 cup water, salt and turmeric powder and add vegetables first which take more time to cook. Also add curry leaves.Salt as required, ½ tsp Turmeric Powder
- I added drumsticks first and the gradually added other veggies. Cook vegetables till tender, not mushy. It should have a bite.
- Now add coconut paste, mix nicely, cover and cook for next 5-7 mins. Add more water if required.½ cup Coconut paste
- After the vegetables are cooked with coconut paste, add whisked curd and mix well.¼ Cup Curd/Yogurt
- Add 8-10 curry leaves and a tsp of coconut oil.14-15 Curry Leaves, 1 tsp Coconut Oil
- Cover and leave the pan for flavours to infuse, and then serve with hot rice, dosa or appams.
Do try this traditonal healthy recipe and include it in your daily meals too. Include it in your menu when doing South Indian theme for your parties.
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