Avial is synonymous with Kerala cuisine. But I have tasted so many variations in the avial prepared by various sects of Kerala. At times, the vegetables are diced. Some add onions, some add even garlic! The tastes are so very different. I think Iyer’s avial is closest to the avial made by the Nairs of Kerala.
Here is the recipe for Avial as a koottaan.
Avial can be made as a koottan – it should have a pouring consistency. Avial and pappadam are a yummy combo. ‘Pappadam is different from ‘appalam’. ‘Pappadam’ should be fresh – it should puff up when you fry it in oil. If it puffs fully like a puri, prick a hole in each pappadam before frying. Our ancestors used to have fried pappadam as well as pickles every day yet never suffered from hypertension (or did they?). These days many of us avoid pappadam and pickle – we have them occasionally as a treat! Of course you can make some ‘thoran’ / 'kothavarakka usili' or ‘mezhukkuvaratti’ (vegetable fry) too.
'Parikka mezhukkuvaratti' is a good combination with 'avial'.
All vegetables have to be cut into 1 ½” long strips (like French fries’ potato).
Bottle gourd / ash gourd – 2 cups
Snake gourd – 1 cup
Beans – ½ cup
Brinjal (preferably the long green variety) – 1 cup
Raw banana - 1
Yam – ½ cup
Carrot – ½ cup
Potato – ½ cup (optional)
Drumstick – 2
Raw mango – sliced - 1 tbsp
Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
Red chilli powder – ½ tsp
Salt to taste
Grated coconut – 5-6 tbsp
Green chilli – 2-3
Cumin seeds – ½ tsp
Buttermilk – 8-10 tbsp
Coconut oil – 1 tsp
Curry leaves – 7-8
In a thick bottomed pan, pour ½ cup of water. Then add the cut drumstick and potato and cook covered for 5 minutes on low heat. Then add the ash gourd, beans, raw mango and raw bananas and continue for 3 minutes. Then add snake gourd, and brinjal and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Pressure-cook the yam and carrot for 1 whistle. Add to the vegetable mix.
Grind the coconut, green chilli and cumin seeds in a mixer.
Add the ground paste to the cooked vegetables.
Add the buttermilk and turn off the stove after a minute. Do not let it boil.
Add a tsp of coconut oil.
Add curry leaves.
This should have the consistency of a koottaan - to be mixed with rice and eaten.
The vegetables have to be boiled as per their tenderness – beginning with the ones which need greater time to cook. Otherwise they will all get squished.
If mango is not in season, you can use a marble-sized tamarind ball or just use sour buttermilk.
© Copyright 2011. Brinda Balasubramonian.