Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Traditional Avial: Mixed Vegetables in Coconut Yogurt base

Traditional Avial Recipe for 1 kilogram of vegetables [cut into 1 1/2 inch long pieces], cooks it with turmeric powder, salt,  6 split green chillies, curry leaves  on very low heat, without water until done. The vegetables should be cooked retaining their shape. To the cooked vegetables, 2 cubes of Jaggery is added [would translate to approximately 4 tbsps of crushed jaggery/sugar] alongwith 1/2 Cup of very sour buttermilk. Once moisture from the buttermilk evaporates, coarsely ground coconut paste from 1/2  of a medium sized coconut is added. The dish is garnished with freshly torn curry leaves and a healthy drizzle of coconut oil. It then  becomes a very elegant one, with the vegetables retaining their shape and color, with a moist coating of yogurt and coconut.

Have tweaked the recipe very slightly for this recipe but the ingredients remain the same! Instead of adding split green chillies to the vegetables, have ground it into the coconut and yogurt paste.

All vegetables cut into approximately 2 inch 'sticks'.
Chinese Long Beans: 1 cup
Winter Melon 1 cup
Yellow Pumpkin/butternut Squash: 1 cup
Green Plantains of the smaller variety: 1 cup
Carrots: 3/4 Cup
Drumsticks: 10 or 11, 2 inch pieces
3/4 of a piece of jaggery or 3/4 tbsp brown sugar
Turmeric Powder 1/4 tsp plus more,
Curry leaves
1 tbsp coconut oil for garnish
For the Curry Paste
Grated Coconut: 1 cup
Sour Curd/Buttermilk: 1/2 Cup
Finger hot green chillies: 2
Boil the vegetables separately with just enough water, salt and a pinch of turmeric powder. One can cook the winter melon and squash together. The vegetables should be cooked but should still retain their shape.
Grind the coconut with the buttermilk/sour curds,  into a coarse paste.
Once the vegetables are cooked, mix them together in one pan, alongwith the cooked liquid and put the heat on medium low.
Add the jaggery piece/brown sugar,
At this stage, if you want a curry with more 'gravy' add 1/2 cup of water.
Add the ground coconut paste and 1/ 4 tsp turmeric powder and bring up to a boil.
Turn the heat down and simmer for a few minutes.
Take care to shake the pan and turn the pieces gently if you do not want a mushy mess!
Take off the heat,
Garnish with freshly torn curry leaves and  a drizzle of coconut oil

This dish sees a lot of variation across Kerala. The basic vegetables added in a traditional feast in Valluvanad would include, Elephant Yam, Winter Melon, Yellow Pumpkin, Drumstick, Chinese  Long Beans, Amaranth beans, Bitter Gourd in small amounts and Raw Plaintains, which were traditionally cultivated and widely available. Carrots is a later addition, so  are  shelled green peas, brinjals and green capsicum. The coconut-yogurt paste also sees variations like the addition of  cumin seeds, curry leaves, red chillies, red shallots, split pigeon peas, and garlic. This dish can be made without one or more of the above vegetables but it has been rightly exalted from its humble birth as a simple dish of re-inventing leftover vegetables during a traditional feast.

What not to do: the tell-tale signs of overcooking are mushy, indistinguishable  vegetables, a dull yellow-brown gravy: either too much of turmeric or grinding the coconut paste to a smoother texture and then overcooking it.

1 comment:

  1. Nice recipe!! Adding a piece of jaggery to avial was new to me. Like your blog and your recipes.. will keep visiting:-)


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