There is no sadya without aviyal. Aviyal is a mixture of vegetables, coconut, souring agents such as mangoes, tamarind extract or curd, seasoned with coconut oil and curry leaves. It is very healthy and nutritious since it contains a lot of vegetables. There are many stories about the invention of aviyal. The legend says that aviyal was invented by Bhima(one of the Pandavas, Mahabharat). He was in the disguise of a cook at sometime during their exile and he did not know how to cook, so he chopped up different varieties of vegetables, boiled them in water and added grated coconut. There is yet another story about the invention of aviyal that the Travancore Maharaja’s chef chopped up all the leftover vegetables in the kitchen and prepared aviyal. The Maharaja liked it so much that he gifted the chef. Vegetables most commonly used in aviyal are raw green plantain/ethakka, elephant yam/chena, cucumber/vellarikka, winter melon/ash gourd/kumbalanga, snake gourd/padavalanga and drumsticks/muringakka. You can also use vegetables like achinga payar/long runner beans, carrot, tindora/kovakka, pacha thakkali/green tomatoes, raw cashews, beans, brinjal, chembu, jack fruit seeds, chinese potato etc. You can use 4-5 vegetables among these but plantain and yam are the most important vegetables maybe because they both are firm so its better to include at least one of them if you don’t want the whole thing to be mushy.
Back home we also make chakka/jackfruit, cheera aviyal with pacha manga for sourness and ethakka/green plantain aviyal in which we add kudampuli for sourness. It is really easy to prepare aviyal but the vegetables need to be cooked to the correct consistency, sourness should be perfect and the grated coconut needs to be crushed perfect to get the perfect delicious aviyal. The coconut oil added in the end gives it an extraordinary aroma and taste so please do not skip adding coconut oil. I have noticed that even though everybody’s recipe for aviyal is almost same, the taste differs widely. It might be because of the different veggies used or simply kaipunyam :). Some people even cook vegetables in coconut oil with little water and add cashew paste for extra taste. Here is the recipe.
Ingredients (Serves 5)
- Vegetables – 4 cups ( I used plantain, elephant yam(chena), cucumber, snake gourd, drumstick, carrot and chembu/colocasia. Add brinjal and chembu only if you wish since some people do not like their taste in aviyal.)
- Green Chilies – 3 – 4 slit
- Chilly powder – 1 tsp
- Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
- Raw Green Mango – Half a small mango, sliced (Add depending on how sour it is)
- Grated coconut – 1.5 cup
- Pearl onions - 3 + 3
- Cumin seeds – 1/4 tsp
- Curry leaves – 2 – 3 sprigs ( the more the better)
- Salt – To taste
- Coconut oil – 1 + 1.5 tbsp
1. Cut the vegetables into long thin pieces. Cover and cook the vegetables, slit green chilies, curry leaves, chilly powder, turmeric powder, 2 – 3 pearl onions halved, 1 tbsp coconut oil and salt, in enough water. Do not add too much of water since cucumber and winter melon are watery vegetables. If you add too much water, the vegetables will be over-cooked and the aviyal will end up watery and mushy.
2. When the vegetables are 3/4th cooked add the green mango pieces and close the lid again. Meanwhile crush the grated coconut adding 3 pearl onions and cumin seeds. When the vegetables are done, bring down the heat and add the crushed coconut mixture in the middle and cover it up with the cooked vegetables (In case there is too much water in the vessel, remove the lid and evaporate the water before adding the coconut mixture). Again cover up with the lid and let it cook for a few minutes. Now open and mix the coconut mixture well. Be careful not to break the vegetables. If you are using curd (around 1/4 cup, adjust it according to it’s sourness), add it now. Switch off. Add around 1.5 tbsp of coconut oil and some curry leaves. Cover with the lid and let it remain for 15 mts. Mix well. Serve hot with rice.