It’s been a long time since I’ve had a ‘colourful’ day, meaning a day when the menu covers all possible colours on the palette. A fortnight or so ago, I tried my hand at bridging the gap between mor kootu and avial (both south-indian dishes made with vegetables and curds) with disastrous results. Avial – similar to the stew served with many Kerala dishes as well as south-Indian snacks but with the addition of curd – ranks among my top 10 favourites. It is comfort food, a colourful dish and works as a complete meal for me. So, a disaster involving this lovely thing was too much of heartbreak and I’d been waiting for the right opportunity to make up for it.
Avial is a dish that I make at least once a fortnight and it so happened that I made it just once since getting back from a longish trip toDelhi(the disastrous one). So the make-up avial had to be extra special. One can use any number of vegetables in this dish as one pleases (I do not know the reason, but my paternal grandma advocates using odd-numbered vegetables. I’ll check and add that whenever I get to talk to her).
Since it requires as many vegetables as possible and sour curd (although I prefer it not so sour), my mother, as well s MIL, usually keep aside a little of each vegetable they buy over the course of a few days and prepare this on the day when curd turns out more sour than usual. But since my avial had to be better than usual, I bought all required vegetables fresh this morning. Also, one can make this dish as rich or as calorie-frugal as required. Mine usually tips the scale on the health front, but today, I decided to pull out all stops.
You can use all sorts of vegetables (leaves, onions and garlic not used) but pumpkins (both white and yellow) or one representative from the gourd/squash (soft white/yellow vegetables) family is a must.
Vegetables usually used include – all varieties of beans, peas, carrots, pumpkins, gourds and squashes, potatoes, yam (senaikizhangu/jimikand), cola cassia (seppankizhangu/arbi), raw banana
Traditionally, vegetables are chopped into thick long pieces (like French fries or potato wedges). But I like to dice and cube mine into biggish pieces since that’s how my mum makes it
For a less-calories version, cut down quantities of coconut and coconut oil by half
(This serves 6 people)
Beans – 1 packed cup (cut into 1.5 inch long pieces)
Carrots – 2 medium (cut into elongated roundels. I know it sounds funny!)
Peas – ½ cup
Drumsticks – 2 (cut into 2-inch long pieces)
White pumpkin – 1.5 cups (cut into ½ inch cubes)
Chow chow (chayote squash) – 1 cup (cut into ½ inch cubes)
Potato – 3 medium (boiled and cut into ½ inch cubes)
Cauliflower – 1 cup (cut into florets)
Capsicum – ½ cup (diced) I used red and green
Grated coconut – ¼ cup (packed)
Green chillies – 5
Red chilli – 1
Curd – 2 cups
Coconut milk (optional) – ¾ cup
Coconut oil – 2 tbsp
Curry leaves – leaves from 2-3 stands (15-20 leaves)
Grind coconut and chillies together
Cut/chop/dice all vegetables. Mix ground coconut-chilli powder. Add some salt
Steam vegetables (except peas) in a steamer
(If you don’t have a steamer, place all veggies in a wide open bowl and cook uncovered in a pressure cooker with weight on. Take off heat before the first whistle. If you’re not careful, the veggies will turn mushy)
Take out of the cooker once pressure dies down, mix salt and peas and let it cool a little
Add a little curd and to test if it breaks. If it does, let the veggies cool slightly more
If it is fine, add the rest of the curd as well as coconut milk
Wash and put all curry leaves on the avial. Pour coconut oil over the leaves and let it seep through on its own. Mix well after a few mins and serve
PS: Somehow, nothing gives me as much pleasure as chomping on a plate of colourful edibles, be it mix-veg curries, salads or avial. Well, except, maybe chocolaty stuff!
If the colourful ‘peppers’ and the sub/sandwich in the background look attractive, you’ll have to wait till tomorrow for me to write a post on it! You could do a google search and get a few hundred recipes, but mine’s special, right 😉