Aviyal | Avial | Vegetables in a Coconut and Yoghurt Sauce

It is interesting to compare the Madhur Jaffrey version of Kerala’s Aviyal (delicious) with this traditional Tamil version from Meenakshi Ammal (also delicious). Madhur Jaffrey wrote for Western audiences, and used commonly available ingredients and vegetables, while Meenakshi Ammal wrote for Indian wives using locally available produce. There will also be regional differences. The first thing I noticed is that Ammal specifically excludes okra from the recipe list, while Jaffrey includes it. (I did put a few in this time, I quite enjoy them.)

The recipe is one of Meenakshi Ammal’s from her cook books Cook and See. One of our very special projects in the kitchen is to cook through these books, as they are very traditional Tamil recipes.You can find all of Ammal’s dishes that we have made here. Most of them are from Vol 1 so far.

Avial can be made with a liquid sauce of coconut and yoghurt, or the sauce can remain thick and just coats the vegetables. It is generally eaten with rice.

The word aviyal (aka avial) is also used to denote ‘boiled’ or ‘cooked in water’ —this sense being derived from the way the dish is made. They say that the origins of this recipe is from the Nambudiri cuisine but it is now common throughout South India.

Similar recipes include Kerala Aviyal, Pulissery, and Pineapple Pulissery.

Browse all of our Aviyal dishes. All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Early Autumn dishes.

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Rajasthani Spiced Green Tomatoes | Green Tomato Chutney

Green tomatoes are very special, and how wonderful it is to have a green grocer who knows this and stocks them. To be able to find them easily is exciting, and several always make it into our shopping bag.

This time we made this delightful Spicy Green Tomato dish, and it is a cracker! It can be used either as a Indian style Chutney, or a spicy side dish. It is a Rajasthani recipe that is very easy to make – simply cook the tomatoes with the spices. No complicated procedures involved.

Similar recipes include Green Tomato and Mozzarella Salad, and Green Tomato Salsa.

Browse all of our Green Tomato recipes, and all of our Tomato dishes. Our Indian Chutneys are here, all of our Indian recipes here, and the Indian Essential Series here. Or explore our Early Summer dishes.

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Keerai Masiyal | Amaranth Leaf Masiyal

There are a number of Amaranth greens available in South India – Mulaikkeerai, Muli Thandu or Thandukkeerai, and Arikkeerai. The most common variety of amaranth that is grown here, Foxtail Amaranth, is Thandukkeerai, but it is grown for ornamental reasons in gardens, not culinary ones. It is very difficult to find the  different varieties in shops unless you search the Asian markets.

The different varieties do have different tastes and properties – for example, some are heating to the body and some are cooling to the body. In India, the crops of Amaranth are also dependent on the season – the cooling ones in the hottest parts of the year, the heating ones in the coldest times of the year. Here, there is no such availability, information or attention to detail. Do use whichever amaranth is available to you.

We generally think of Masiyal as being made with toor dal or a mixture of toor dal and mung dal. However Meenakshi Ammal in her books Cook and See has several recipes for Amaranth Masiyal (in Vol. 1) that do not contain any dal. This one mashes the leaves, and I have to say it is very delicious. One of the defining characteristics of Masiyal is that there are no ground or powdered spices, only seasoning with a few selected whole spices. It allows the ingredients to shine rather than being overwhelmed with spices, onions or garlic. That is the beauty of all traditional Tamil food.

Similar dishes include Poritha Kootu, Mung Bean Soup with Amaranth, and Poritha Kuzhambu with Amaranth.

Browse all of our Amaranth dishes and all of our Masiyal recipes.  All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Early Autumn dishes.

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Carrot Poriyal | Stir-fried Carrot with Coconut

Once you have your pantry set up for cooking Indian food regularly, recipes with long lists of ingredients are no longer terrifying. The reason that some recipes seem to have a kitchen-bench full of ingredients is that many of them are small amounts, less than a teaspoon. These spices produce the characteristic tastes of Indian food. For example, not counting the spices, this dish has only 3 main ingredients – carrots, coconut and onions. There, that seems much simpler than a list of 15!

The best way to approach long lists of spices is to prepare them before you begin to cook, using tiny bowls or containers to hold them. Alternatively, grab a couple of dabbas, Indian spice boxes, from your Indian shop, so that your commonly used spices are all in one container.  Either method will eliminate your need to search the cupboard for a spice while cooking – and the panic that ensues when you can’t find it and the onions are over cooking as you search.  We have all been there! So be organised, both in your spice cupboard and in preparing your ingredients.

This is a simple recipe today, despite the list of ingredients – a quick stir-fry of carrots with spices and coconut from the South of India. Poriyals embody the South, and can be made with many different vegetables and vegetable combinations.

Similar recipes include Green Bean and Carrot Poriyal, Sweet Potato Poriyal, and Carrot Thoran.

Browse all of our Poriyals, and all of our Carrot recipes.  All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Mid Summer recipes.

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Turnips in Coconut Milk

Can I ask you how often you cook with turnips? Yes, I thought so. Me too. But do try this Indian dish with a hint of the North and a touch of the South. The coconut milk pairs very well with creamy turnip. The recipe is adapted from one provided by The Splendid Table.

Similar dishes include Vegetable and Barley Soup, Green Mango in Coconut Milk, and Eggplants in Coconut Milk.

Browse our Turnip recipes. Our Indian dishes are here and our Indian Essentials here. Or browse our Late Winter dishes.

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Vendakkai Puli Kootu | Okra Tamarind Kootu

Okra is so very good in the shops right now, as I write, so I grabbed some from the Asian market in my last shopping trip. Lovely thin, tender, long spears of goodness – how we love them.

You will love this recipe. It is as simple as Indian cooking can get. The okra is sliced and cooked with tamarind, green chillies and a little toor dal. Other recipes will add tomatoes, onions, garlic, sambar powder or other spices, coconut, etc, but I prefer this simple, honest preparation from the Palghat (Palakkad) area of Kerala. I have made it quite thick, as you can see, as I prefer it that way, but you can have more sauce if you prefer. I found this approach in the book Classic Tamil Brahman Cuisine by Viji Varadarajan.

Similar recipes include Cluster Bean Kootu, Okra Patia, Bhindi Bhaji, and Okra Kuzhambu.

Browse all of our Okra dishes and all of our Kerala recipes. All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Mid Summer recipes.

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Simple Indian Potato Crush | Potato Podimas

One way that villagers all over India cook potatoes is to mix with a mash of green chilli, onions and salt. It is that simple, but so delicious. It doesn’t really need a recipe, but where would you be if the post ended here?

Podimas means mash in Tamil. It is a traditional type of poriyal and is good when served with Sambar or other Kuzhambu or Rasam Varieties. Many people love it with rice varieties too, or simply with naan or roti.

The flavour of the green chilli and onion are infused into the potatoes by grinding them coarsely with salt with a mortar and pestle (don’t use a spice grinder or processor, you need a pounding not a grinding action to do this successfully.

Similar recipes include Carrot Poriyal, Indian Mashed Potatoes, Saag Aloo, and Garlicky Potato Mash.

Browse all of our Mashed Potato recipes and all of our Potato dishes. All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Mid Summer recipes.

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Green Bean Kootu

There is a wide variety of vegetables that can be used in kootu dishes, and today we use a standard recipe with green or runner beans. Of course, it is delicious. It is the same as Brinjal Kootu but uses green beans. It is a variation suggested by Meenakshi Ammal in Vol 1 of Cook and See.

Similar recipes include Cluster Bean Kootu, Okra Tamarind Kootu, Elephant Yam Masiyal with Lime JuiceBrinjal Asadu, Cluster Bean Dal Kootu, and Ridged Gourd Dal.

Browse all of our Kootu recipes and all of our Green Bean dishes.  All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Mid Summer recipes.

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Amaranth Plain Masiyal | Thandukkeerai – Araikkeerai Plain Masiyal

It is quite fun exploring the use of Amaranth Leaves in both Indian and Middle Eastern cooking. Right now we are focused on Indian uses (of course) but will explore the uses in Middle Eastern and other cuisines as long as our season of Amaranth lasts. Luckily the plants are self-sowing, so there will be another amaranth forest next year, no doubt.

This dish is another Masiyal with Amaranth Leaves – the third one we have made. The recipe is one of Meenakshi Ammal‘s from her cook books Cook and See. One of our very special projects in the kitchen is to cook through these books, as they are very traditional Tamil recipes. In Vol 1, and she includes 3 recipes for Amaranth leaves in the chapter on Aviyal.

Generally masiyal is made with toor dal but less commonly it is made without dal, as in this recipe. The  vegetables generally are mashed or finely chopped, and there are (generally) no ground or powdered spices, only seasoning with a few selected whole spices.

You can find all of Ammal’s dishes that we have made here. Most of them are from Vol 1 so far.

Similar recipes include Puli Keerai, Ridged Gourd Masiyal, Sampangi Pitlai, Poritha Kootu, and Spinach Chutney.

Browse all of our Amaranth Leaf recipes and all of our Masiyal dishes. All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Early Autumn dishes.

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South Indian Plantain Dish | Vazhakkai Poriyal

There are advantages and disadvantages to living in downtown outer-suburban capital city. It is countrified living, but the access to specialist products such as good cheeses, excellent olive oils etc is limited. I found out the other day that I can’t buy Bitter Lemon around here – there goes my Gin and Bitter Lemon. Is that out of fashion now?

What I am eternally grateful for, you don’t know how much, is the range of fruit and vegetables that are common in my area but not seen in the inner-suburban groceries and supermarkets where I used to live. Plantains. Mangoes all year. Pomelo. Mustard Greens. Chilli Leaves. Betel Leaves. Pea Eggplants. Apple Eggplants. Okra. Green Mangoes.  FRESH PINEAPPLES FOR $1!! I could go on and on. This availability has radicalised our kitchen’s menu. Every trip I want to bow down to the owners of the Vietnamese grocery in particular. Total gratitude.

So today the dish is a quick curry of plantain, stir fried and then simmered in spices to make a Poriyal from Tamil Nadu in South India. It is very very delicious with some rice (mix with a little ghee and a pinch or two of poppy seeds), some sambar (plantain can be a bit dry in texture, so it is good to have it with a wet dish) and some chutney. Finish with some curd/yoghurt if you wish.

Similar dishes include Plantain in Tamarind Gravy (make this dish with plantain instead of eggplant in the recipe), Plantain Pulissery (make this dish with plantain instead of pineapple in the recipe), Carrot Poriyal, and Carrot and Bean Poriyal.

Browse all of our Plantain recipes, and all of our Poriyal dishes. You can browse all of our Indian dishes. Our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Mid Summer of recipes.

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