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 Chow Chow Kari, 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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Ezhukari Kuzhambu / Kootu | Seven Vegetables Kuzhambu | Pongal Kootu

This dish gets its name from the fact that it is prepared with 7 vegetables. It is a South Indian dish, actually a Tamil dish, which is often prepared on Thiruvathirai Day as a side dish for Thiruvadhira Kali (a sweet mung dal and rice dish made on this festival day). Although its name means seven vegetables, often nine, eleven, or even more are used! It is a blend of sweet, salty, tangy and spicy flavours that meld so well together, and is a perfect clean-out-the-fridge dish.

It is a dish that is also made on Thai Pongal, where it is called Pongal Kootu and as an accompaniment to Sakkarai Pongal. For this dish it is made thinner than for Thiruvathirai.

But you can also make this dish at any time – don’t keep it only for a festival dish. 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.

I love this dish cooked just with potatoes. It is divine. Today I made it with Colacasia, Chenai Yam, Cluster Beans, Pumpkin, Potato, Ridged Gourd, and Drumstick. Delicious!

Similar dishes include Drumstick and Fenugreek Kuzhambu, Poritha Kootu, Poritha Kootu with Simple Spices, and Moringa Leaf Dal.

Browse all of our recipes for Thai Pongal. All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Mid Autumn dishes.

Continue reading “Ezhukari Kuzhambu / Kootu | Seven Vegetables Kuzhambu | Pongal Kootu”

Indian Essentials: What is Avial, the Signature Dish of Kerala?

Gentle and divine, this dish is characterised by its simpliciy.

Avial is a gentle dish from Kerala, a thick mixture of vegetables in a slightly sour & creamy yoghurt-coconut-cumin base, seasoned with coconut oil and curry leaves. It is one of Kerala’s signature dishes. In essence, the vegetables are boiled or steamed and then dressed with the coconut-cumin-yoghurt sauce. Each family’s sauce is different from the next family’s. In our recipe today we are using cumin in the sauce. Like many Nambudiri recipes, Avial proves that a divine recipe need not be complicated, nor use a ton of spices. Unlike many Indian curries, Avial needs minimal flavouring. Each family’s sauce is different from the next family’s, and thus variations abound.

Although the sauce is usually thick, just coating the vegetables, Avial can also be made with a liquid sauce of coconut and yoghurt.  It is eaten mixed with Rice or served as a side dish with Adai ( thick savoury pancakes).

Avial is considered an essential part of the Sadya, the Keralite vegetarian feast. It is commonly made with elephant yam, plantain, pumpkin, carrots, beans, Malabar cucumber, drumsticks and snake gourd. Carrots and beans are recent but delicious introduction. Bitter gourd can be included in some regions also, although it is not common. Ash gourd, cluster beans, can be used. Later additions include tomatoes, especially green tomatoes, raw cashews, colocasia, jackfruit seeds, sweet potato and potatoes. A mix of 4 – 5 vegetables is mandatory. It  is generally accepted that soft vegetables like okra and eggplant, staining vegetables like beetroot and bitter vegetables like bitter gourd should not be used. Also strong flavourings should be avoided – but sometimes bitter gourd and eggplant are used in some regions.

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Avial | Aviyal | Vegetables in a Coconut and Yoghurt Sauce | From Kerala, India

Avial is a gentle dish from Kerala, made with vegetables and coconut.

Avial is a gentle dish from Kerala. It is a thick mixture of vegetables and coconut, seasoned with coconut oil and curry leaves. In essence, the vegetables are boiled or steamed and then dressed with the coconut-cumin-yoghurt sauce. Each family’s sauce is different from the next family’s. In our recipe today we are using cumin in the sauce.

Avial is considered an essential part of the Sadya, the Keralite vegetarian feast. It is commonly made with elephant yam, plantain, pumpkin, carrots, beans, Eggplant, cucumber, drumsticks and snake gourd. Carrots and beans are recent but delicious introduction. Bitter gourd can be included in some regions also.

Continue reading “Avial | Aviyal | Vegetables in a Coconut and Yoghurt Sauce | From Kerala, India”