Avial (aviyal), is a vegetable medley in a coconutty gravy straight from Kerala. It is a dish made on festive occasions and a sure shot item on an ela / ila sadya (feast served on a banana leaf). The avial / aviyal has many vegetables that is not used regularly in many cuisines. Many non-traditionalists use vegetables like potatoes and green peas and cauliflower in this dish which then frankly ceases to be avial and is just a vegetable curry in coconut gravy. At times, we have to substitute certain veggies due to non-availability; like most times vellarika is not available. Then either do without it or use a water heavy vege like bottle gourd or just increase the quantity of kumbalanga. Vegetables like the ash gourd, snake gourd, drumstick, yam, raw plantain (banana), yard long beans are usually the main ones that go in Avial, then additional ones like the ivy gourd, carrot, beans, eggplant are also added. This time, I did not add raw plantain to my avial because the last time it turned to be very starchy, maybe because I selected the wrong type of plantain.
Making Avial / Aviyal takes a little prep time. All the vegetables are cut into 1.5inch long strips with the exception of the drumsticks which are cut into 2.5inch pieces. The vegetables are added into the pot in stages since most have different cooking times else it could turn to a mushy mix. You can add either raw mango or tamarind or curd/yogurt to add sourness to the Avial. The Avial can be made either with a little watery gravy or as a thick, no gravy dish. I chose to make it a little watery so I could avoid making another curry / kootaan. Usually, for a sadhya, the avial is made as a thick, no gravy dish without onion but when making it at home you have the liberty to do otherwise.
Ash gourd / White gourd /pumpkin / Kumbalanga / Kumbalengya - 1.5 cup
Bottle gourd / lauki / Churayka- 1/2 cup (use Vellarika if you get)
Yam / /Elephants foot / Chenna - 1/2 cup
Carrot - 1/2 cup
Snake gourd / Padavalanga / Padavalengya- 1/2 cup
Drumstick / Muringaka/ Muringyakay- 1
Yard long beans / Payar / Achingya - 1/2 cup
Ivy gourd / Koveka / Kovekya - 6
French beans / Beans - 1/2 cup
Fresh Curd / Yogurt - 1/2 cup
Turmeric pwd - 1tsp
Red chilli pwd - 1/2tsp
Coconut oil - 1tbsp
Curry leaves - 15for paste
Coconut - 2 cups grated
Onion - 1/2, small sized (optional)
Jeera - 1/2tsp
Curry leaves - 2-3
Wash all the vegetables really well. Each vegetable has to be cut into strips of the same size, about 1.5inches long. For the Ash gourd / Kumbalenga, the Vellarika / English Cucumber, the Bottle gourd / Churayka and the Snake gourd / Padavalanga discard the seeds and innards and then cut into strips. Cut the Drumsticks / Muringaka into 2.5inch long pieces and make a small slit on each piece. Beat the curds / yogurt with a little water and keep aside. Grind the coconut, onion, jeera, onion to a fine paste with water, then add the curry leaves and pulse it once quickly. In case making a thick, no gravy avial, add an additional cup of grated coconut and only crush the coconut do not grind it to a fine paste and follow the rest of the recipe.
Put the Yam, Carrot, Snake gourd, Drumstick, Yard long beans, Ivy gourd, French beans and Bottle gourd pieces into a pot along with salt, turmeric powder and red chilli powder. Add water to the level of the veggies and close the pot with a lid and keep on low heat. Check after about 10 minutes if the vegetables are half done. Then add the Ash gourd pieces and some curry leaves and mix well and again close the lid and continue to cook on low heat. The vegetables should be cooked while retaining shape and crispness. Add the coconut paste and add little water for gravy and give it one boil. Then add the beaten curds and mix well till well blended. Do not boil after adding the yogurt. Top with the remaining curry leaves and the coconut oil and cover till ready to serve.