Tag Archive | Coconut

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

Sunday Stew with Appam (and a little twist or two)

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Sunday Stew with Appam (and a little twist or two)

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I think that most South Indian people will agree with me, “Stew with Appam” is one of the most beloved breakfast dishes here.
Quick and easy to prepare and of course very light and nutritious.
Ostensibly an Anglo-Indian dish served every Sunday in the past by the Christian families (especially in close by Fort Cochin) for their Sunday breakfast, it has now of course found a place in most homes – including ours. So much so, that hardly a Sunday goes by when we do not serve this stew, either with Appam and/or plain bread.

So now I like to serve to you our very own version of this favourite Sunday breakfast:

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This will serve 4 and the ingredients mentioned are the once I use while preparing this dish. Of course you can add other vegetables, if you like, for example some Cauliflower, beans, and peas. We prefer this stew to be thin, just like broth with some vegetables, but again, you can thicken this dish if you want to.

a) 250 gr beef, cut into small cubes
1 x medium onion, roughly chopped
2 x green chillies, slit
Salt and pepper, as required
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b) 2 x large potatoes, peeled and cut into largish cubes
3 x large carrots, peeled and cut diagonally
1 x Knorr Vegetable stock cube
3 x green chillies, slit
1 inch piece ginger, julienned
Pepper and salt as required to your taste

c) ½ Tbsp Coconut oil
1 x bay leaf
4 x cloves
1 piece of cinnamon bark
3 x green cardamom pods
1 x star anise
Some curry leaves

d) 2 x onions, peeled and sliced
10 x Cashewnuts, soaked for a few minutes and then made into a paste

e) ¾ to 1 cup of thick coconut milk (you can use powder or from a tetra pack)

Whenever possible I suggest you boil the beef with the ingredients mentioned under A) the day before and keep in fridge.
On Sunday morning, quickly boil everything mentioned under B) and keep (with all the liquid of course)
Take your vessel, add oil, heat and then add everything under C), stir for 2 minutes on medium heat and then add your onions under D) and sauté until they become slightly golden (make sure they do not turn brown).
Add the Cashewnut paste, stir for 2 minutes and then follow with the pre-boiled beef (again with liquid).
After a further couple of minutes add your cooked vegetables including their liquid, and simmer for another 3-5 minutes.
Take off the flame; let it rest for a couple of more minutes and then mix in the thick coconut milk mentioned under E) – (if you leave it on the flame it most likely will curdle when you add the milk – so be careful!).
Check your seasoning once more and adjust. Bring to your table and serve with Appam and/or bread and a big sunny smile!!!
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Happy Sunday, dear Readers.
Carina