There are some recipes I am extremely fond of but don’t really attempt when I have my favourite people around (parents). One of these is aviyal the mixed vegetable curry in coconut gravy
My father has precise preset ideas of what an aviyal is with the exact proportions. It is tough to manage this unless you are in Kerala, so I always feel I don’t do justice to this recipe. Somehow, when I have made it, I have seen it vanish without a sound among family and friends. So I guess I am making one to suit their tastebuds.
What is aviyal?
To all things coconut-based, Kerala recipes are the best. Aviyal is a steamed mixed vegetable side dish. The smooth coconut masala that coats the veggies makes the combination interesting and addictively tasty. Popular in south Indian cuisine, the mixed vegetable curry, aviyal takes different versions based on regional vegetable availabilities and souring agents.
The aviyal recipe in mythology
This is the gist of a story I heard from a foodie friend.
In the story of Mahabharata, the Pandavas ended up with a year living under disguise. Bhima worked as a cook in the kingdom of Vhidhrba. The warrior and a food enthusiast Bhima is said to have brought this aviyal recipe together.
The vegetables you need for this sadhya aviyal recipe
Wintermelon – the water-laden wintermelon is the first choice for this mixed vegetable curry recipe. If this is not available, here are some swaps. Raw papaya, hairy melon or our favourite tiger melon. Saying this and diverging from my parent’s school of thought, the watermelon rind or Zucchini is perfect for this recipe.
Moringa or drumsticks – Though there are no swaps for this option The moringa pods are absolutely necessary to bring flavour to the recipe.
Yams – the Elephant foot yam is the one that we traditionally use for this recipe. The yams hold shape when steamed, and are nutritionally superior with complex carbohydrates too. The swap is ofcourse potatoes, the waxy ones that can hold shape.
Mango- the sourness that is needed for this recipe comes from the raw mangoes. Often added with the think skin, the cooked mangoes are a delight to have a bite with. You can use an extract of tamarind if Sour raw mangoes are not in season or a scoop of sour yogurt along with the coconut masala for this aviyal.
Carrot- Now I wouldn’t really call this a true country vegetable addition. Yet it has managed to steal the hearts of this core Kerala dish. Carrots add a lovely colour to this dish.
Raw plantain – this is yet another starchy vegetable that adds a good volume to this recipe.
Long beans- the tastiest addition to this recipe is the yard-long beans. I love to munch on them. If you don’t get them add some french beans instead.
Snake gourd-Believe it or not, this is the best addition to the recipe. I love the earthy fragrance that these gourds add to the aviyal recipe.
- 1 deep pot
- 1 blender
- 250 grams wintermelon Elavan, pooshanikkai
- 100 grams snake gourd padavalnga. podavangai
- 100 grams elephant foot yam Chena
- 2 long moringa pods Muringakaya, drumsticks
- 1 large mango Raw, paccha manga, mangai
- 8-10 long yard long beans payar
- 1 medium plantain bananas nenthrankai,
- 1 small carrot
Ingredients for the coconut masala
- 1 cup grated coconut
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 4-5 curry leaves
- 2 green chilli
- 1/4 cup drinking water use as needed to grind the masala into a smooth paste.
For steaming the vegetables
- 1.5 cups drinking water
- salt to taste
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
to complete the recipe
- 4-6 curry leaves
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
To steam the vegetables
- Peel and slice the yam, carrot and winter melon into thick sticks.
- Slice into thick sticks the snake gourd, raw mango, plantain, yardlong beans and moringa pods.
- Add these to the deep pot and add the water, salt and turmeric and set it to cook on medium heat.
- Grind the ingredients for the masala into a smooth paste with just enough water needed.
- Once the vegetables are cooked, add the ground masala paste.
- Mix well and let it come up to a gentle simmer.
- Once the mix comes to a boil, top it with the curryleaves and coconut oil.
- Cover with a lid and remove from heat.
- Leave the mix for 5 minutes for the flavours to infuse.
- Sweve hot with steamed rice.
Why we love this recipe?
The aviyal recipe according to my father is called so as aviyal means cooked in steam in Malayalam. So a medley of vegetables, locally grown and first steam cooked. Then mixed in a flavourful light coconut masala makes the recipe perfect. The ground coconut masala consists of grated fresh coconut, green chillies, curry leaves and cumin. Once the masala mix is tossed in and steamed through the final touch of pure coconut oil drizzled bring the recipe to perfection.
The key factor is the mix of water-laden vegetables like the watermelons, the sour ones if which I love raw mangos and the firmer vegetables like the drumsticks moringa and raw plantain. Once you get this balance it is a great recipe to pair with a meal.
Let’s pair the aviyal perfectly.
Aviyal is one of the side dishes you want to serve on a banana leaf meal, sadhya. The ease of precutting most of the vegetables makes me use it for festivals.
You can have a simpler meal of aviyal with steamed rice or millet and a small bowl of pineapple rasam.
Aviyal is one recipe I meal prep and freeze for the simple reason that it pairs so well with bread and chappathis too.
So this one aviyal recipe makes a few different meals easily and stays well frozen.
I am gathering up my courage and posting this recipe knowing fully well that my father is going to disapprove of it. Still, trying and adapting is the key to life, so here is my sadhya aviyal. Try out this version and rate the recipe. If you are an expert aviyal maker, let me know if it matched your expected flavour in the comments below and the rating.
We hope you will love to share with us your thoughts about recipes and posts. Take a moment to visit our youtube channel Leaving you with our Facebook page (click here) and Instagram (click here ) so you can take a peek. Don’t forget to follow us as we update these to the best of our efforts. Subscribe, share, like and evermore come back
Stay safe and see you at the next post.