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 carefully!) 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. Since I am on a Paleo diet of late, I make Avial almost every week. Avial along with grilled fish is a perfect paleo meal!

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Mixed vegetables in coconut sauce (Avial)
Author: 
Recipe type: Main course
Cuisine: Kerala, South Indian
 
Avial is a traditional Kerala dish of mixed vegetables cooked and smothered in a sauce made with coconut, cumin and turmeric and garnished with fresh curry leaves and coconut oil
Ingredients
  • 1 Green(raw) Plantain , scraped to remove strings and chopped into 1 inch long pieces - do not remove skin
  • 3 medium size taro root(arabi in hindi 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 zucchini,
  • White pumpkin (Ash gourd), peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes, about 1 cup
  • Pumpkin, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes, about ½ cup
  • 1 medium onion, cut into long, thin slices
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 small piece (about ¼ inch ball) of kokum, soaked in hot water(optional)
  • 5 green chillies, slit lengthwise (if you prefer to keep it mild, use only 3 )
  • 1½ cups grated coconut (freshly grated or frozen that has been thawed)
  • ½ cup warm water (for grinding the coconut)
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp thick plain yoghurt (use coconut yoghurt for dairy free)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
  • 6-8 fresh curry leaves (with stem preferably)
Instructions
  1. 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.
  2. 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 ¼ cup more water
  3. If there is still sufficient water to cook the other remaining veggies, then DO NOT add any more water.
  4. Next add the soft vegetables - eggplant/zucchini, white pumpkin,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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 ½ 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.
  7. 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
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).You can use any combination of vegetables but make sure to stagger them for cooking based on above.
I use kokum(special kind of tamarind found in western india to give a sour taste but if your yoghurt is sour enough, you need not use any tamarind. Or you can also use raw/green mango pieces if you have them instead of the tamarind. Or if you don't have any of the above , use lemon juice.

 

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