Avial–Coconut yogurt vegetables

Avial is a delicious vegetable dish from South India made in a coconut and yogurt sauce. Vegetables can include potatoes, red or white pumpkin, carrots, drumsticks, green beans (French or the Asian long type), green plantain and green mango, as well as other vegetables I don’t recall seeing in the U.S. (like elephant foot yam, a tropical tuber, and ash gourd/winter melon/ white pumpkin). The spicing is very simple: just cumin seeds and curry leaves.

avial verticalAvial–serves 3-4

  • 1 cup pumpkin, peeled, cut into 1 inch squares
  • 1 carrot, quartered length-wise, cut into 3 inch sticks
  • 1 drumstick, cut into 3 inch sticks (optional)
  • 1 cup green beans, cut into 3 inch pieces
  • Raw/green mango, chopped into 1 inch pieces (optional)
  • 1 medium eggplant, cut into rectangular pieces 3 inch long, ¼ inch thick
  • ½ t turmeric
  • ¼ t salt
  • Ghee or coconut oil
  • ½ t cumin seeds
  • 1 small green chili (optional)
  • ¼ t turmeric
  • Curry leaves, 1 stem or about 10 leaves
  • ¼ cup shredded, unsweetened coconut, fresh or dried (from less than one half coconut)
  • ½ cup yogurt/curd
  • salt

Brown the eggplant

In a bowl mix ½ t turmeric and ¼ t salt. Coat eggplant pieces in turmeric & salt. Heat large pan over medium heat, add cooking fat and brown eggplant on both sides. Remove eggplant.

Steam the vegetables

In a steamer basket, add pumpkin and carrot.  When pumpkin and carrot have started to soften, add drumstick. When drumstick starts to soften, add green beans. When green beans are mostly cooked, add mango. The mango cooks very quickly. After a just a few minutes, remove all vegetables from heat of the steam to stop cooking process. Vegetables should be perfectly cooked.

 Make the spices

In the same pan used to brown the eggplant, heat the ghee or coconut oil on about medium heat. Add cumin and chili, if using. When cumin seeds have sizzled for a few seconds, add curry leaves and turmeric.

 Put it together

Immediately add the steamed vegetables, browned eggplant and coconut. Stir and remove from heat. Add the yogurt/curd and salt. Do not include the whey separated from the yogurt/curd, as this will make the sauce runny.

photo by Imran Mannan

Park Street Cemetary, photo by Imran Mannan

Mashed cauliflower & gravy

Who doesn’t love mashed potatoes with gravy? This recipe is almost indiscernible from the real thing and very satisfying! Moreover, this is an excellent way to consume lots of meat stock!

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into medium sized pieces
  • 4 cups stock or broth, preferably unsalted or with little salt
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • Fat of your choice, such as butter, ghee or bacon fat
  1. Steam the cauliflower. Then puree in the food processor.
  2. While the cauliflower is steaming, place the stock or broth in a pan and boil with the lid off to reduce it, thereby thickening it by about 75% to a gravy. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the pan as it thickens, thereby saving the very tasty stock.
  3. Heat a small pan to medium/medium high and sauté the onion until caramelized.
  4. Top the mashed cauliflower with gravy and onion.

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