This is one dish I truly grew up too, Avial. From avoiding it every single time it made its way to the table... to craving it. I was just like the stereotypical kid I guess, hating avial only because it had sooo many vegetables in one dish :)) Only later recently did I started appreciating it for its flavor.
Avial is a subtly flavored dish that holds its beauty in the medley of vegetables which are steam cooked and later simmered in a coconut based gravy, bringing the whole dish together. The recipe for this dish is fairly uncomplicated but you hardly find good avials in the restaurants. Even the Udipi restaurant's, known to specialize in South Indian cuisine, fail to get it spot on. Infact the Udipi frozen packs are better than that! By the way, I love their frozen masala dosa, totally unhealthy I agree, but its good!
It was wonderful having my mom do the cooking. Perfectly blended flavors, right what I was craving, there is definitely magic in those hands! No matter how closely I follow her recipes, I can never make it the way she does it, and her's happen to be my benchmark for perfection :( I have a lot more of her recipes coming up. The pumpkin or the bottle gourd is essential I think, they add the juicy bites to the dish and do not let the heavier' potatoes and yam take over. The coconut oil in the end might seem a little to strong if its your first time, but do give it a try, it adds a really nice touch to the dish. But be careful with the amt you add, a little goes a looong way here :) No tadka's required, but you could heat the oil a little bit to mellow out the taste if needed.Avial - Vegetables simmered in a mild coconut curryIngredients:
- 3 cups cubed vegetablesCommon vegetables used in Avial are white pumpkin, (yellow pumpkin is not a substitute), yam, potato, raw banana, beans, cluster beans, drumsticks, peas, brinjal (eggplant), carrot and raw mango. No cauliflower or cabbage or capsicums here! You could substitute the white pumpkin with bottle gourd (sorakaya) and the raw mango with some sour curds or tamarind.
Grind to paste:
- 1 Tbsp raw/uncooked rice (soaked in water for 15mins)
- 1 tsp Cumin seeds
- 1/2 cup freshly, grated coconut
- 2 green chillies (no red ones here)
- 1/2 cup sour curds
- 11/2 tsp coconut oil
- 4-5 curry leaves
- Salt to taste
- Boil the vegetables till done adding just enough water. You could add them all to the cooker one after the other based on cooking times. The potatoes, yam, raw banana, drumstick and pumpkin go in first, carrots, beans and raw mango a few minutes later, lastly brinjal and peas.
- Once they are close to done, add the ground coconut paste and salt. Simmer for 5-8 mins and turn off the heat. Then add the curds making sure the vegetables are luke warm to avoid curdling.
- Top it off with chopped curry leaves and 1tsp of coconut oil. Serve with warm rice/venn-pongal/puri/chapathi or just have a bowlful :)