If you have been to a traditional Kerala feast (Sadya), at a wedding, a ceremony, or a festival like Onam, you would have definitely come across and tasted Avial (Aviyal), served alongside twenty or more other vegetarian dishes, and felt amazed how elegantly it stood out as the hero on the plate (or the plantain leaf in truly traditional instances).
Course: Main Dish, Side Dish
3 - 4chilies(medium hot) Green
Clean the vegetables and get ready to prep them. Don't be intimidated by the the variety of ingredients. Don't worry about the quantities either. In this recipe, I have used roughly a cup of each vegetable (after cutting).
Cut all the vegetables lengthwise to 1 1/2 inch pieces. Keep those vegetables which have less cooking times in a different bowl. In this instance, it's yam and cucumber. Note: I used cucumber only because I couldn't get hold of the Sambar cucumber (Indian yellow cucumber / Vellarikka). Ideally, that is the cucumber that you should use. Place all other veggies in a different bowl.
Add turmeric powder, one green chili cut lengthwise, salt, one sprig curry leaves, and one tablespoon coconut oil to this bowl and mix well with your hand. While mixing, put some extra pressure to massage the turmeric powder and salt into the pieces.
Move this to a pan, add 1/2 cup of water, mix well and cook for 10 minutes on a low flame with the lid closed. Stir occasionally.
Open the lid. The vegetables would be cooked to tender by now. Add the remaining vegetables and cook for 5 more minutes with the lid closed. If you are a vegan, or if you don't want to use yogurt, add diced raw mangoes to the pan in this step.
In a mixer, add the grated coconut, remaining green chilies, shallots, and cumin seeds.
Coarsely grind them.
Open the lid, and add the ground coconut mixture to the cooked vegetables.
Stir well. Take care not to mash the pieces.
For others who are happy to follow the traditional recipe, add 3 tablespoons of yogurt to the pan. Note: Beat the yogurt for a few seconds, before adding it. Stir well, and cook for another 5 minutes, without the lid, on a low flame.
Drizzle one tablespoon of coconut oil on the top, add the remaining curry leaves, mix well, check for salt, and switch off the flame.
Serve hot with rice and other accompaniments. Every time you cook this recipe, experiment with the vegetables that you use, and find perfect combinations you like!