As a child and even as an adult, South Indian cuisine has been my weakness. Though my palatte has mostly savoured the limited dosa / idlies / uttpamas, when ever I have been presented with an opportunity to try out a new dish, I pounced on it like a hungry puma on a timid lil deer.
So to continue exploring the vast south Indian cuisine which actually varies drastically from one state to the other, I took up the suggestion given by a friend: try Avial, it is a smash hit in the Keralan cuisine.
I’ve always loved a nice vegetable stew though I am not sure if I can call Avial one since it is a combination of various vegetables in a thick gravy of coconut and curd/ buttermilk. Avial is actually an essential part of the Sadhya which is a big feast of sorts associated with many and various social occasions like weddings, birthdays, festive lunches… you name it and you’ll see Avial being served. Funny I just recalled that I actually had the same at the after party of a person’s Arangetram. The food was delicious and spot on!
While reading about the history of Avial, I also found its reference in Hindu Mythology. It is said that during the phase of Mahabharata, Bhima invented this dish when he assumed his duties as the cook in the kitchen of Virata.
So, here is my version of Avial
- 2 Carrots
- 1 potato
- 200 g Beans
- 1/2 Gourd
- 200 ml Buttermilk
- 1/2 cup fresh coconut
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tbsp coconut Oil
- 3-4 red chillies
- Salt, to taste
Clean and cut the vegetables in equal thickness cubes, 1″ each. Steam them in a pressure cooker with 2 tbsp of water and some salt till you get one whistle.
Heat the oil and add the cumin seeds. Let them pop and then add the green chillies and the coconut. Sautee them and keep aside for 5 mins.
Once the coconut cools down, churn them in a mixie by adding 1/2 cup water to form a smooth paste.
In a vessel, add the buttermilk and the coconut paste. Add the boiled vegetables, salt to taste and cook on low flam for 5 -10 mins till the gravy thickens.
I’m told that Avial goes best with Rice and I will definitely agree. The same can also be served with some Appams or Adai with some mint chutney.