Mixed vegetables in coconut sauce (Avial)

Mixed vegetables in coconut sauce (Avial)

Avial (pronounced as Aveeh-ial) is a delicious and sumptuous mixed vegetable dish that is essentially very simple to make (if you follow the directions strictly!) I would say the only  complicated part of this dish is the use of many different vegetables and the different cooking times that they require.   Avial is made with a mix of hard vegetables like green(raw) plantain, chembu (taro root),  suran (elephant’s foot) etc.  as well as soft vegetables like white pumpkin (bhopla),  green beans, carrots, eggplant etc.  Avial is an absolute must in any sadya.  Sadya is a traditional vegetarian feast and is served at weddings, festivals like Onam and Vishu and any other auspicious functions.   As I mentioned before, the only challenging part in making avial is to make sure all the different vegetables are cooked to proper consistency (and not overcooked) otherwise the avial will not taste good.

Because of the many different vegetables used in this dish, it is a very healthy and also a very satiating dish.  Hence you can just serve it with rotis or any other bread for a complete meal.

Ingredients:
1 Green(raw) Plantain , scraped to remove strings and chopped into thin
about 1 inch long pieces - do not remove skin,
3 arabi(taro root in english or chembu in malayalam),
skin scraped and cut into 1 inch cubes
Green beans, cut into about 1 inch long pieces, about 2 cups,
Carrots, cut into 1 inch long pieces , about 1 cup,
2 small Eggplant(Baingan) cut into long thin slices,
White pumpkin, cut into 1 inch cubes, about 1 cup
1 medium onion, cut into long, thin slices
1 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp salt
1 small piece (about 1/4 inch ball) of tamarind, soaked in hot water
5 green chillies, slit lengthwise (if you prefer to keep it mild, use only 3 )
2 cups grated coconut (freshly grated or frozen that has been thawed)
1/2 cup warm water (for grinding the coconut)
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 cloves of garlic (optional)
2 tbsp thick plain yoghurt (curd)
2 tbsp coconut oil
6-8 fresh curry leaves (with stem preferably)

Method:

Take a big cooking pot which is wide and has a tight-fitting lid.   First add the hard vegetables (green plantain and arabi) along with 2 cups of water and the salt and cook uncovered for about a minute till the water starts boiling and then cover and cook on medium flame for about 3-4 minutes till the vegetables are a little soft.

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Next add the medium hard veggies like green beans and carrots and cook covered for another 2 minutes. Now open and stir and if there is not much water left, then add about 1/4 cup more water

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If there is still sufficient water to cook the other remaining veggies, then DO NOT add any more water.

Next add the soft vegetables – eggplant, white pumpkin and the onions. Also add the turmeric, green chillies and the piece of tamarind at this point and again cover and cook for another two minutes.

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Now open and stir to make sure the veggies are not sticking to the bottom of the pot. Put the stove off at this point.

Now, we need to make the coconut masala.  For that take the grated coconut in a blender or a grinder and add the cumin seeds and the garlic(if adding) to it. Add 1/2 cup of warm water to this and grind to a fine paste.  Add the yoghurt and blend again till smooth.  Add this paste to the pot with the vegetables and stir slowly and carefully trying not to mash the vegetables too much.  Now put the pot back on the stove turning the heat to low and cook for about 1 minute (DO NOT cook longer ) and turn the stove off.

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Immediately add the fresh curry leaves and the coconut oil  and mix lightly. Avial is ready and you can eat it with plain cooked rice or with rotis.

Notes

1.The way the vegetables are cooked is very important – use just the right amount of water to cook them or else the avial will become watery.  By the time all the vegetables are cooked, there should not be any water left (the cooked vegetables should be still identifiable individually and not mashed)

2. I use tamarind to give a sour taste but if your yoghurt is sour enough, you need not use tamarind. Or you can also use raw mango pieces if you have them instead of the tamarind.

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