Any vegetarian feast (called sadhya in Malayalam) in Kerala is incomplete without avial on the menu. Avial is a purely vegetarian dish which is probably the most loved dish among non vegetarians too. It is made using various vegetables (plaintains, yam, green bananas, green papaya, potatoes, drumsticks, french beans, snake gourds, long runner beans, long brinjals, tindli, squash, pumpkin, raw mango etc.) The vegetables are par boiled & then further cooked in a coconut gravy. This dish is thick in consistency unlike the sambar, so minimum amount of water is used for making this dish. Also, for the same reason, vegetables that cook fast or do not hold its shape like cabbage, okra, cauliflower, tomatoes are avoided in this recipe. Legend has it that the mythological prince Bhima (one of the 5 Pandavas from the Mahabharat) invented this dish. Story has it that Bhima did not know how to cook & on one occasion when asked to cook, chopped up all the available vegetables & mixed it with some grated coconut which was also readily available at the place where he was at the time! There are not many spices used to make this exotic dish but just the coconut & curry leaves added makes this dish sumptuous & delicious. Here is my recipe for making the Kerala avial:
Indian - Kerala
Vegetarian Main Course
Published Sep 24, 2013
- 4 cups mixed vegetables (yam/suran, green beans, raw papaya, carrots, green mango, potato, gourd/dudhi etc.
- 200 gms fresh or frozen grated coconut
- 3 tsp. cumin seeds
- 1 tsp. mustard seeds
- 7 or 8 green chillies (more or less according to taste)
- 1 1/2 cups yogurt
- 3 sprig fresh curry leaves (kari patta)
- 2 tbsp. coconut oil (it is the coconut oil which gives it the authentic flavour, so don't cheat on this by using any other oil)
- 1/4 tsp. turmeric (optional)
- 1/2 cup water
- Wash & clean all vegetables you plan on using.
- Cut all the vegetables into equal sized pieces about 2 inches. Put the vegetables into a pan or a wok and add only about 1/2 cup of water,salt & turmeric. Cover & simmer on low to medium heat for about 7 minutes. If you wish you can add the vegetables that don't need much cooking like carrots, drumsticks after a few minutes of adding the other vegetables. The idea is that the vegetables are to be rightly cooked & not turn mushy. It should hold the shape.
- Meanwhile, when the veggies are cooking, grind the grated coconut, green chillies, 3 to 4 curry leaves (not sprigs), cumin & mustard seeds into a paste adding very little water. Mix it well with the yogurt.
- Once the veggies are semi cooked for about 6 to 7 minutes, add the coconut yogurt paste into it, mix well and let it simmer for about 5 minutes or so.
- Heat coconut oil in a small frying pan and add fresh curry leaves to it. Add this tempering into the avail & close the lid so that the aroma of the tempering stays. Immediately turn off the heat & your avial is ready.
Preparation Time is approximately 30 minutes.
Cooking Time is approximately 20 minutes.