Avial is a traditional South Indian dish that originated in the state of Kerala. It is a mixed vegetable curry cooked in coconut and yogurt-based gravy. It is known for its creamy texture, vibrant colors, and distinct flavors.
The key ingredients used in Avial are mixed vegetables (such as carrots, beans, drumsticks, ash gourd, pumpkin, yam, etc.), grated coconut, yogurt, green chilies, turmeric powder, and salt. The tempering or seasoning typically includes mustard seeds, curry leaves, and dried red chilies. Avial is traditionally served as a main course dish with steamed rice. It can also be enjoyed with other South Indian dishes like adai (lentil and rice pancake), dosa (fermented rice and lentil crepe), or Indian bread like roti or paratha. It can be served on a plate, banana leaf, or in individual bowls.
Ingredients for avial:
- 2 cups mixed vegetables (carrots, beans, drumsticks, ash gourd, pumpkin, etc.), cut into medium-sized pieces
- 1/2 cup grated coconut
- 1/2 cup yogurt
- 1 green chili, slit lengthwise
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- Salt to taste
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil (or any cooking oil)
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 sprig curry leaves
- 2 dried red chilies
Instructions for avial:
- Boil the mixed vegetables in a pot with enough water, turmeric powder, green chili, and salt. Cook until the vegetables are tender but still retain their shape. Drain the excess water and set aside.
- In a blender or food processor, grind the grated coconut and yogurt together to form a smooth paste.
- Add the coconut yogurt paste to the cooked vegetables and mix well. Adjust the consistency by adding a little water if needed. Cook on low heat for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, to allow the flavors to blend.
- In a separate small pan, heat the coconut oil for tempering. Add the mustard seeds and allow them to splutter. Then add the dried red chilies and curry leaves. Sauté for a few seconds until the curry leaves turn crispy.
- Pour the tempering over the cooked vegetables and coconut-yogurt mixture. Give it a gentle stir to combine everything together.
- Remove from heat and serve hot. Avial is typically served with steamed rice, but you can also enjoy it with dosa, adai, roti, or any other preferred accompaniment.
- Steamed Rice: Avial pairs wonderfully with steamed rice. Serve a generous portion of avial on a plate or banana leaf alongside a mound of fragrant steamed rice. Mix the avial with the rice for a satisfying and wholesome meal.
- Adai or Dosa: It can be enjoyed with adai (a savory pancake made from a mixture of lentils and rice) or dosa (a fermented crepe made from rice and lentil batter). Spread a generous amount of avail on the adai or dosa and roll it up for a delicious and fulfilling meal.
- Roti or Paratha: You can also enjoy it with Indian bread like roti or paratha. Tear off a piece of roti or paratha and dip it into the avail for a delightful combination of flavors.
- Side Dish: The dish can also be served as a side dish along with other South Indian delicacies like sambar, rasam, or coconut chutney. It adds a creamy and flavorful element to the meal.
Tips and variations
- Choose a variety of vegetables like drumsticks, carrots, beans, pumpkin, yam, raw banana, ash gourd, and snake gourd. Cut them into long, thin pieces for even cooking.
- Grind freshly grated coconut with cumin seeds to make a smooth paste. This forms the base of the gravy. You can also add a small piece of ginger while grinding for added flavor.
- Traditionally, avial is cooked in a clay pot, but you can use a regular pan or a pressure cooker. If using a pressure cooker, cook the vegetables without adding water, as they release moisture while cooking.
- The key to authentic taste lies in the tempering. Heat coconut oil in a pan and add mustard seeds, curry leaves, and dried red chilies. Pour this tempering over the cooked avial for an aromatic flavor.
- Non-Vegetarian: You can add cooked shrimp or fish to the avial to make it a non-vegetarian version. Add the seafood towards the end of the cooking process and cook until it’s done.
- Yogurt: For a tangy twist, you can add a tablespoon or two of yogurt to the avial. Mix it well before serving, as it adds a refreshing flavor to the dish.
- Tamarind: If you prefer a slightly sour taste, you can add a small amount of tamarind pulp or extract to the avial. This variation adds a delightful tanginess to the dish.
- Spicy: To make the avial spicier, you can include green chilies or red chili powder in the coconut paste. Adjust the spice level according to your preference.
- Cashew Paste: For a richer and creamier , blend soaked cashews into a smooth paste and add it to the coconut paste. This variation adds a delightful nuttiness to the dish.
- Q1: What is the origin of avial?
A: Avial is a traditional South Indian dish that originated in the state of Kerala. It is believed to have been invented by Bhima, one of the Pandava brothers from the Indian epic, Mahabharata.
- Q2: Is avial a vegan dish?
A: Yes, avial is typically a vegan dish as it is made with vegetables, coconut, and spices. However, some variations may include dairy products like yogurt, so it’s essential to check the ingredients to ensure it aligns with a vegan diet.
- Q3: Can avial be prepared in advance?
A6: It tastes best when served fresh, but you can prepare it in advance and store it in the refrigerator for up to 1-2 days. However, keep in mind that the vegetables may become softer upon reheating.
- Q4: Can avial be frozen?
A8: It is not recommended to freeze as the texture and flavors may change upon thawing. It is best enjoyed when prepared fresh or stored in the refrigerator for a short period.
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