Thursday, September 12, 2013


In most tamil weddings, the lunch after the ceremony is served on banana leaves and will typically have avail as one of the menu items.  It is also something that we make at home for any celebration meal.  It has such a festive feel to it.


Maybe because it is mostly made for special occasions, avial has this reputation of being an elaborate, gourmet dish, which is difficult to make.  At least that was my take on it.  Once I started making it though, I realized it was super easy to make and really hard to mess up.  It has very few ingredients and does not require much cooking time.  The hard part is cutting all the veggies.

If you live in India, you have access to all the veggies that go into it– white pumpkin, yellow pumpkin, beans, carrots, plantains, potatoes, chow-chow, drumstick etc. easily.  Our Indian store only gets vegetables on Thursdays and does not always get the white pumpkin, yellow pumpkin, and drumsticks.  So if I want to make avial, I have to plan in advance.  Now, when I see these veggies, I buy them, cut them into the right size and freeze them up.  

My friend Anu, asked me to post a recipe for avial.  I had already cut and frozen the pumpkins, it wasn’t that difficult to make.

Here is what you need:

  • Veggies of your choice cut into long thin strips – I used one carrot, one plantain, one medium sized potatoes, one medium drumstick, ½ small acorn squash, 4 green beans, and about 1 cup of white pumpkin (you can add arbi – cook it separately, and eggplant too)
  • salt to taste
  • ¼ tsp. turmeric powder
  • ½ - ¾ cup grated fresh or frozen coconut
  • 4 – 6 green chilies
  • 2 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 cup thick yogurt, beaten (I know friends who use sour cream instead of yogurt and it comes out just as well - may be creamier)
  • 2 tsp. coconut oil
  • some curry leaves

Here is how I made it:

  1. Bring water to boil in a big pot with a little bit of salt and a pinch of turmeric powder.
  2. Add veggies to this water one at a time, in the order that it takes to cook them – adding veggies that take longer to cook first and adding the white pumpkin in the end.  I added drumstick, beans, potatoes, carrots, plantain, acorn squash and then the white pumpkin – in that order with a gap of two to three minute between each.
  3. Cook till all the veggies are done, drain the water and return the pot to the stove.
  4. While the veggies are cooking, grind the coconut, green chilies, and cumin seeds to a fine paste with a little bit of water.
  5. Add this to the pot with the cooked veggies. Stir to mix well.  Let this heat through.
  6. Turn off the stove. Add the yogurt and mix well.  Taste to adjust the salt.
  7. Heat the coconut oil in a small pan.  Turn off the stove.  Add curry leaves to the hot oil and pour it over the avial.
  8. Mix well.

Enjoy with rice and papads.

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