Predominently cooked in Kerala, the southern state of India, Aviyal, classified as the vegetable stew, is a regular diet of the mallu population. It is unfailingly served at their festivals, the Onam and the Vishu. Being a fan of south Indian cuisine by heart, I decided to tryout this dish at home myself, with some tips from my colleague, Madhukumar.
Reminiscing, I see that it had been a very strange introduction to this dish for me. The year I was at the cochin shipyard for my marine training, I was fed upon, with this cuisine, almost every third day. The cook always kept the vegetables raw, and the ingredients, especially the coconut, were less in quantity, not enough to bring out the actual taste of this dish. Most of the trainees hated it, and we even joked that eating this food was a kind of training, to prepare us for the food during our sea life. We actually experienced the true taste of this cuisine on the day of Onam, when the cook, put all his hearts, and the required ingredients in it. Later I was served it on my honeymoon in cochin, and became a fan of it.
Here is Madhu’s method without further delay by my boring stories.
You Require :
Yam, Bottle Gourd, Raw Banana.
These three are the important ingredients. For rest, well it’s a stew, so anything goes.
Here, I must warn you, that if you are a novice, stick to known vegetables. In the novel, Three Men in a Boat, by Jerome K. Jerome, the author describes a situation, wherein he, along with his friends George and Harris on a river trip, were preparing scrambled eggs, and being their first times at it, they ended up introducing all sorts of food items in it. Seeing this, their dog Timothy, brought a dead rat as his contribution, which they almost wanted to try, but decided against it, since they had never heard that being done before. That was the funny side, but stick to basics if you can’t imagine how the vegetable will contribute to the taste of the Aviyal.
So here’s what I used(to feed my family of five, which include 4 voracious eaters):
I didn’t have Yam, so had to do without it, but would have gone for 1/4 a portion of Yam.
1/4 portion of bottle gourd
2 medium sized Raw Bananas
1 good, ripe red tomato
1 Potato(I used two due to lack of Yam)
4-5 French bean sticks
Fistful of green peas
2 teaspoon of turmeric powder
2 stem of curry leaves
2 green chillies
2 teaspoon of cumming seeds
2 tablespoons of coconut oil or vegetable oil( Coconut oil can be avoided if you don’t like it in food, but believe me, it adds good flavour to this dish)
Stems of Cilantro for green texture and the aroma
Salt as per taste
Drumsticks if you like( I avoided them since I feel that they give out fibres in to the dish, which almost messes up the looks and feel)
How you go about it :
1. Peel off the skin from potatos, carrot, bottle gourd, yam and bananas.
2. Cut the carrot, bottle gourd, french beans and bananas in to juliens.
3. Cut potatos and yam in to cubes, to give the fill to the dish.
4. Cut the tomato, whichever way you want. Why should I constrian you when it’s your dish.
5. Take a deep bottom pan, and heat it. Remember to cook the entire dish on medium flame. Put about a cup full of water in the pan before adding vegetables, to avoid burning the vegetables. Add the potatos, tomato, peas(can be introduced later if you want them full in the serving dish), yam ,bottle gourd, french beans, carrot and bananas. Cover the pan and keep on medium heat.
6. While it cooks, grate the coconut. Add curry leaves, cummin seeds, chillies cut into small pieces and cilantro leaves. Grind the ingredients adding some water to make smooth paste. Keep aside while the vegetables cook.
7. After about 5-7 minutes of steaming the vegetables, add turmeric powder(and the green peas, if not added before) on the top of vegetables and cover it up for further cooking. Allow the vegetables to be medium cooked before mixing the turmeric. Yam and potatoes take longer to cook, so keep them as the measure for properly cooked vegetables. Doesn’t matter if the tomatos melt away.
8. Once the potatoes and yam are properly cooked, add the coconut paste prepared earlier, and mix it well. If the outcome feels dry, add little water to get the creamy texture.
9. Pour the oil on top of it all, and allow it to cook further, covered and on medium heat.
10. Add salt as per taste and mix well.
11. Garnish with cilantro leaves. Serve hot with appam, iddi appam, dosa or even with steam rice.
Here’s how mine turned out
Enjoy your Aviyal!!