Avial is a spicy and savory dish made using yogurt, coconut and various vegetables that is common in the southern Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka. Though it is universal, it is unique at the same time as the three different cuisines have their own tweaks on the dish that make them taste slightly different. This dish is very popular as an accompaniment with rice and adai, a thick pancake made with rice and lentils. Vegetables used traditionally in avial are green plantain, yam, pumpkin, brinjal (egg plant), drum sticks, snake gourd and broad beans. Of late, vegetables which are not native to southern India like carrots, cucumber and french beans are also used. The flavor of the avial is enhanced with curry leaves and coconut oil.
Avial initially started out as a means to create a tasty dish which could use leftover vegetables but it has now become a signature dish in its own right in south Indian cuisine. The dish is high on taste and nutritional value due to the various vegetables and the use of coconut oil which is now regarded as one of the healthiest oils to cook with. The word avial means ‘boiled’ or ‘cooked in water’ — this sense being derived from the way the dish is made.
Here is a great avial recipe for all the foodies out there:
Vegetables (drumsticks, carrots, french beans, potatoes, green plantain, potatoes): 1 1/2 cups
Green chillies: 2 to 3 chillies, slit
Cumin seeds: 1/2 teaspoon
Curd (Yogurt): 2 to 3 tablespoons
Grated coconut: 2 tablespoons
Coconut Oil: 2 teaspoons
Curry leaves: 1 sprig
Salt to taste
Grind the grated coconut into a paste. Add few cumin seeds, curry leaves and green chillies and set aside.
Boil all the vegetables and keep them aside.
Heat coconut oil in pan. Add the coconut paste, cumin seeds, curry leaves and green chillies that you had set aside earlier. Give a quick swirl with a wooden spoon.
Next, add the boiled vegetables and salt. Mix everything gently cook for 2-3 minutes on low flame till the vegetables and the coconut paste blend well.
Transfer to a bowl, add curd (yogurt) and mix it well. Check to see if the salt is enough.
Garnish with curry leaves and enjoy the avial with cooked rice or as it is! Either way, it is delectable.