Aviyal in literal sense means "mixture of vegetables", simmered in a spicy coconut based gravy. Aviyal is considered to be rich & festive and hence, no south Indian festival/marriage is considered complete without aviyal in the menu. Aviyal is very near & dear to me and I always look forward to this dish, be it a big wedding or a small function. I must say that the mixed vegetables gives aviyal a unique flavor and with every mouthful, as you get to bite into different taste & texture of different vegetables .. mmmmm .. yum is the word!!
History of aviyal seemed quite interesting (Thanks to wikipedia!), as it dates back to the times of Mahabaratha, when Bheema (one of the five Pandavas) wore his cooking hat (which he is supposedly not very good at!) in the kitchens of King Virata, during exile. Not knowing the basics of cooking, he simply chopped up different vegetables, cooked and garnished them with grated coconut, that later became popular as Aviyal.
This renowned dish takes different forms, uses different ingredients in different household. Some add turmeric powder for that yellowish tinge, but I grew up with my mom's white aviyal (though I like both the versions). Some use tamarind water for sourness, whereas my mom uses sour curd/yogurt instead. Some use cumin seeds to add to the flavor, but my mom says adding cumin seeds to aviyal will make it taste more like 'mor kuzhambu' than aviyal!
As for the vegetables, you could use any vegetable that doesn't lose its shape and mush up when cooked. Carrots, beans, peas, potatoes, broad beans (avarakkai), raw bananas, snake gourd, drumstick - an equal mixture of atleast 4-5 vegetables from the list would be just perfect for aviyal!
Complexity - Medium
Prep time - 30 mins
Cook time - 30 mins
Serves - 3-4
Vegetables - 3 cups (I used 1 raw banana, 1 potato, 10-15 beans, 2 carrots & 1/2 cup peas)
Water - 1/2 cup
Raw rice - 1 tbsp (Sona masoori works best)
Green chillies - 3 nos
Coconut - 1/2 cup (packed, freshly grated coconut is highly recommended)
Sour curd - 1/4 cup (I used greek yogurt which was souring in my fridge)
Coconut oil - 2 tbsp
Curry leaves - 2-3 sprigs
Salt - to taste
Soak raw rice in water for atleast 20 mins.
In a deep saucepan, bring 1/2 cup of water to a boil. Add vegetables & salt. Cover and cook on medium flame until 3/4 th done. Over-cooking will mash up the vegetables.
In the meanwhile, grind coconut, chillies, soaked/drained raw rice into a thick & coarse paste.
Add this paste to the vegetables along with 1/3 cup of water and let it simmer on low flame for 3-5 mins. Garnish with coconut oil, curry leaves and remove from heat.
Add beaten yogurt (without any lumps) to the aviyal and mix well. Aviyal is ready to be served!