A V I A L – അവിയല്

(A little healthy vegetable shopping trip at the local market)

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For the time being and in fact only for a very short while some of our many wonderful multi-cultural and multi-religious festival days are over.

My own birthday this year fell right into the middle of Diwali, and Halloween and this is one main reason why I did not post anything regarding those two festivals.

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But I just want to say a big thank you to you who did write to me – I am only sorry I cannot share this huge cake with you which JS had especially ordered. As always he surprised me at midnight (which is a sort of tradition here) with this cake, a huge bunch of beautiful yellow roses (I am not very keen on red ones for a reason) and some lovely gifts – our girls telephoned me at that time as well and so I was very happy indeed.

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Now, since I came to India I have always liked a vegetable dish called AVIAL which is a dish originating from South India and is in fact quite common in Kerala and is of course part of the Sadya, the famous Keralite Vegetarian Feast, especially during the sumptuous feast of Onam. But recently I have developed such a yearning for this healthy dish that I now make it for us on average three times in a week.

There are as usual many many variations of the same theme here and what I show you today is my own basic Avial. Sometimes, depending what I have in my fridge and what is available in my little local market, I might exchange one item for another – one can be pretty flexible. The standard vegetables used in Avial are Eggplant/Aubergine, Drum sticks, Snake Gourd, Plantain, Pumpkin, Carrots, Beans and Elephant Yam. The only thing to remember is not to use “soft” vegetables like tomatoes etc.

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This is not a hot – as in chilli hot – dish, but JS and I like to throw in a couple of Kashmiri Chillies, for colour and taste really, not so much for heat. We also like to include a fresh green mango, but if not available, don’t fret; just add some slightly beaten, slightly sour, curd/yoghurt.

As you might have gathered by now, cooking to us is not as much as sticking to the original authentic recipe, but bringing something to our table we like to eat, and anybody else who happens to join us.

For a large pot I normally use approx.:
1 x cup of Ash Gourd, washed
1 x cup of Cucumber, washed and peeled
3 x Carrots, washed and peeled
1 x whole Drum stick, washed and peeled (like you do with beans)
12 x green Beans, washed and ‘topped and tailed’
2 x raw Plantains, hard skin removed
1 X BIG Eggplant/Aubergine, washed
1 x ‘fat’ slice of Elephant Yam
1 x largish Potato, peeled and washed
10 x Lovoka, washed and cut into half lengthwise
1-2 x medium sized green (cooking) Mangos, peeled and stone removed
2-4 x Tbsp of slightly sour curd/yoghurt (optional)

How to prepare everything ready for cooking:

I like to chop up my vegetables to the sound of some nice music – anything good, but depending on my mood of the moment!
So sit down as well and cut all your vegetables into nice uniformed pieces, like fat match sticks.

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Since the various chosen vegetables take different times to cook, some people prefer to cook them in separate stages – I don’t!!! (and I do not use a pressure cooker either). I just start off with those veggies which take the longest and then just a few minutes later I add the others. Just watch and take care – you do not want to end up with a mushy dish.

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Also add only very very little water when starting to cook (you can always add a few drops later if and when needed) – followed by salt and pepper (optional) and some turmeric powder. Stir very gently and let simmer for 5 x minutes on the lowest heat possible (with the lid on)

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GRINDING THE COCONUT

In your Mixy quickly grind appr. 1 – 1.5 cup grated coconut, 3-5 x green chillies, and 1 x tsp of Cumin seeds coarsely. Do not add any water!!

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Check ‘the bite’ on your vegetables and add all your coconut paste to the vegetables, check salt once again, stir gently and continue cooking for another 5-8 minutes. Let it cool down just a little bit before adding 2 or 3 (or if you like, more) Tbsp of yoghurt/curd, mixing it in briefly.

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If liked, use 1 x Tbsp of Coconut oil over the top and decorate with some curry leafs. Serve it with rice, chapattis or, have it on it’s down. Delicious.

And that’s it! Guten Appetit.

Namaskaram
Carina

36 thoughts on “A V I A L – അവിയല്

  1. 🙂🙂 schade, dass es so weit weg ist, kaeme auch gerne! Aus welcher Stadt in Kerala kommt “Euer?
    Chef her? Uebrigens, fuer WW lass’ mal Kartoffel und die meisten Kokusnuss paste weg! Ich kaempfe auch – sehr! – mache es aber alleine🙂

  2. Oh Carina – how many more ‘common’ matters shall we find! I have cooked avial for decades and am actually quite renowned for it! Both my husbands were superb ‘curry cooks’ and there were always big ‘curry parties’ in our homes. Well, they cooked the main dishes [Madras, v hot usually !!!!! . . . I like Deccan, Rajasthani, Goan, Keralan if I cook Indian ‘curries’. . . I do a lot of Malaysian, Indonesian and Vietnamese fusion and some Thai] Have to check my recipes against yours when able and try yours – I know I had a very pretty baked version also . . . Secondly I also do NOT like red roses and love them yellow or apricot – have a huge apricot standard in my front garden. Am laughing🙂 ! Lovely cake Ma’am!!

    • 🙂🙂 my goodness, Eha – what’s next?🙂 – Wait for letter. But, to clear something up, I actually do like nearly al flowers and speaking of roses, my favourite colours are either “ivory” or the palest of pale-pink – just like a ‘blush’ – but neither was available. But those yellow ones, JS got me, were just beautiful – and I loved them🙂

  3. Happy Birthday Carina!! That avail looks amazing and I love the coconut pot. I visited Kerala this summer and couldn’t agree more that its GOD’s country!! Hope you had a great birthday!!

  4. Thank you Archana for your wishes and the complements. I know, this coconut pot is not old, but it just winked at me in the Antique place, so JS got it for me as a nice prop. But, since I came to Kerala we started collecting the really old and very traditional items – very soon they will not be available any longer – a shame really. You are in Bangalore, right?

  5. Belated birthday wishes, Carina. I won’t mind to get slice of that Blackforest🙂, my fav too! Wishing you a great year ahead.
    I am happy to read this post, always wanted to learn to make Avial, first tasted this in the Kerala Thali meals. Thanks for sharing.

  6. hello Ashu – you really surprised me!🙂 But I am happy that you like my recipe (mind you, my Malayali husband had quite a say in this🙂🙂 ) Avil certainly is very much healthier than BFG!! but who cares when a birthday is only once a year. Thank you for your kind wishes. Hope to see you
    here on my Blog again some time. Namaskaram from Kerala.

  7. Yes, Our Avial is very Healthy and Tasty. You must try their PONGAL also.
    But the Avial I learnt to make, has coconut milk put in, instead of grated coconut. You cook your vegetables. The Add Coconut milk and temper them with indian spices.

  8. thank you for coming into my kitchen. As you know, Avial is always slightly different from family to family, region to region and what you read above is what my Malayali husband and I like best in our kitchen – so one can take ones choice and add what one likes best🙂🙂

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