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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Elephant Yam Masiyal with Lime Juice

Two of the special yams in India are Elephant Yam, and Elephant Foot Yam. Sadly, these two often get confused, even by Indian bloggers and writers. It took me quite a while and lots of conversations to sort the two out.

This Masiyal can be made with either of the two yams. I am using frozen yam as fresh ones are not available here. Its a surprising dish, incredibly delicious.

If you have any more information about these yams, please share.

This recipe is from Meenakshi Ammal in Vol 1 of her books Cook and See. The dish is made with toor dal (red gram dal) but uses lime juice instead of tamarind. Lemon juice works too, due to the same word being used for both fruits in India it is often difficult to tell which is intended. Both work well in most dishes. I like lime because it gives a tropical spark to dishes.

Similar recipes include Tamarind Suran and Arbi, Amaranth Leaf Masiyal, Ridged Gourd MasiyalPoritha Kootu, and South Indian Yellow Pumpkin Soup.

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

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Elephant (Foot) Yam Masiyal

India is Yam Heaven – so many more varieties there than are grown or available here. Two outstanding ones are Elephant Yam, and Elephant Foot Yam. Sadly, these two get confused, even by Indian bloggers and writers. It took me quite a while and lots of conversations to sort the two out.

While you can’t purchase them in the shops here, not even in Asian or Indian shops, you might just find them in the frozen section of your South Indian grocery store. It is worth searching them out, just to try them and to say that you have eaten Elephant (Foot) Yam.

If you have any more information about these yams, please share.

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Poritha Kuzhambu with Tamarind

Poritha Kuzhambu is a delicious dish defined by the addition of coconut and cumin seeds. Many of our recipes for this dish have been made without tamarind, but today’s recipe includes that wonderful, sour tang.

What makes Poritha Kuzhambu different from Sambar and Pitlay is its ground masala with coconut, cumin and urad dal (black gram dal). Some households use black pepper instead of cumin. Poritha Kuzhambu with Tamarind can be made with a medley of vegetables or a single one, often with the addition of a legume. Meenakshi Ammal always suggests using only one vegetable for Poritha Kuzhambu and a mixture of vegetables for Kootu. Although in this one, when listing the vegetables, she seems to relax that rule just for a moment for this recipe, suggesting that vegetables can be used in combination, but later instructions imply again that for Kuzhambu, one vegetable is best.

Another feature of Poritha Kuzhambu with Tamarind is that it often includes lentils and/or beans together with the traditional toor dal (red gram dal). We have made this with toor dal and chickpeas. Delicious!

This recipe is indeed one of Meenakshi Ammal’s from the first volume of Cook and See. This recipe is a tangle! Like the first ones in the book, for Sambar, this recipe definitely takes some detective work to untangle. Thoughts have been put down without logic and structure, so I have done my best to add sequence and process to the instructions. I do hope that you enjoy.

Similar recipes include Plain Masiyal of Amaranth Leaves, Simple Poritha Kuszhambu, and Ammal’s “Method Three” Poritha Kuzhambu. Also Green Chilli Kuzhambu, Fenugreek Kuzhambu and Race Kuzhambu.

Why not browse through the recipes of Meenakshi Ammal? They are here.

Then browse all of the Poritha Kuzhambu recipes. All of our Sambar and Kuzhambu dishes can be browsed here. Have a look at all of our Indian recipes. Or you may like to explore our Early Autumn recipes.

I would also suggest trying the Kootu recipes – these are very similar but have a thicker consistency.

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Yam Masiyal with Fenugreek Seeds | Karunaikizhangu Masiyal

India has so many types of yams, ones that we don’t even dream of here. Two favourites are Elephant Yam and Elephant Foot Yam. Luckily these are available in a frozen from from Indian groceries.  (Note that these yams are often confused, understandably, but are in fact, different yams.)

And luckily, Meenakshi Ammal, in her books Cook and See, has some recipes for these yams. In Tamil, the yams are Karunaikizhangu and Chenai (or Senai) Kizhangu. Don’t confuse it with Seppankizhangu, which is colocasia (taro), slightly smaller than karnaikizhangu. The Hindi name for the Elephant Foot Yam is Suran Jingikand. This recipe is for Elephant Yam but can also be made with Elephant Food Yam.

Similar recipes include Elephant Yam Masiyal with Lime Juice, Elephant (Foot) Yam Masiyal, Poritha Kootu, and South Indian Yellow Pumpkin Soup.

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

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Pitlai | Toor Dal with Vegetables

Pitlai is a South Indian recipe using some basic vegetables and cooked in a coconut-based gravy with specific spices that have been fried in ghee. It sits close to Poritha Kuzhambu and Poritha Kootu, but the spice mix varies from these.

South India adores its rice, and so the different cuisines of the South include a huge range of gravy-like dishes that are ladled over warm rice to be mixed and enjoyed. It makes sense, right? Rasam, Sambar, Kuzhambu, Kootu etc are the most common. Pitlai sits in that group too, and some will say it is a type of Sambar and others will say it is a type of Kuzhambu. Meenakshi Ammal sits her Pitlai recipes within her Poritha Kuzhambu and Poritha Kootu section – those with a fried spice mix/ paste. The dish varies slightly from any of the above – in consistency, spices used, and the vegetables that are added – bitter gourd and eggplant are definite favourites. Like the other Poritha dishes, it is the ground paste of spices, the coconut, and the predominance of lentils, that serve to thicken the dish. A tiny amount of rice flour can help if needed.

Pitlai includes coriander and Bengal Gram in its coconut-based spice paste, and this is the difference from the Poritha Kootu and Poritha Kuzhambu pastes. As I say about South Indian dishes – change out one spice and the dish has a different name, a different way of eating, a different time of day to eat it and different vegetables to include in it. 🙂

Pitlai is made all over South India and each region will have its own interpretation of the dish. This is a recipe from the Tamil Brahmin Cuisine.

Are you looking for similar recipes? Try Brinjal Asadu, Poritha Kootu with Sambar Powder, Simple Poritha Kuzhambu, Sampangi Pitlai, Poritha Kuzhambu with Chilli and Cumin,  and Poritha Kuzhambu with Amaranth Leaves.

Are you looking for other Kuzhambu? Try Green Chilli Kuzhambu, Masala Kuzhambu with Gram Flour Vadai, and Tomato Kuzhambu.

Why not have a look at all our Kuzhambu dishes, and all Kootu. All of the Sambar dishes are here. Browse the Meenakshi Ammal recipes. Or take some time to explore our easy Early Autumn dishes.

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Arai Puli Kuzhambu | A Mildly Sour Wet Soupy Curry | Eggplant and Potato in a Spicy Gravy

A luscious kuzhambu of brinjal (eggplant) and potato. Enjoy!

Meenakshi Ammal has the habit of calling Kuzhambu as a soup in her English translations of her recipes. They are not really soups, but it speaks to the difficulty of translating some of the traditional Indian dishes into something that has meaning to the Western world. Indian authors try to find hooks that have some meaning to non Indian readers, likening dishes to risottos, pancakes, pesto’s, red and green curries, clarified butters. I do it too, resorting to words like broth and gravy.

My personal opinion is that we should respect and maintain the tradition as much as possible, and not find Western-accepted terms to describe dishes. But that is difficult with a dish like Kuzhambu. The best I can call it at this stage is a wet curry or a spicy gravy. It is neither a soup or a gravy, although it has qualities of both. Sometimes it is more gravy like, and sometimes more soup like, but it is neither. It is a beautiful balanced dish, flavour wise, with a wonderful balance of sour (tang), heat (chillies), warmth (spices) and an undefined specialness.

This is one of my favourite kuzhambu dishes.! Enjoy! Similar dishes include Aloo Do Payaja (Potatoes with Onions).

You can find recipes for the other Kuzhambus here, including Drumstick and Fenugreek Kuzhambu, Green Chilli Kuzhambu, Fenugreek Kuzhambu, and Masala Kuzhambu with Gram Flour Vadai.

If you are looking for Sambar Recipes, they are here. (The list includes Kuzhambu Recipes.) All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Our Late Winter recipes are here.

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Plain Kuzhambu | Kottu Kuzhambu | South Indian Vegetables with Spicy Gravy

This plain kuzhambu is milder than some others, but is anything but plain.

Meenakshi Ammal’s Cook and See books, has a Plain Kuzhambu (Kottu Kuzhambu) in Book 1 of her 4 book series. The Plain Kuzhambu is milder indeed, but is anything but plain. It is a gravy like dish without the toor dal, and with the addition of vegetables. I used pumpkin. Kottu, meaning plain, indicates the presence of vegetables but without cooked lentils.

This recipe is very similar to Vatral Kuzhambu, but uses fresh vegetables instead of dried ones (vathal).

You can find recipes for the other Kuzhambus here, including Green Chilli Kuzhambu, Fenugreek Kuzhambu, and Masala Kuzhambu with Gram Flour Vadai. If you are looking for traditional Sambar Recipes, they are here – the list includes the Kuzhambu Recipes. Or explore our Indian dishes here. Other Winter recipes can be found here.

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