According to the legend it is supposed to have been invented by Bhima (one of the Pandava brothers) during their exile when Ballav (Bhima's name during this time) assumed his duties as the cook in the kitchen of Virata, he chopped up the vegetables, boiled them together and topped the dish with grated coconut. And thus was born aviyal or avial which has a unique place in typical Kerala cuisine. No Sadhya is complete without this absolutely delicious and nutritious dish.
Another story is that the first avial was made when the heavens ran out of food during a feast. Lord Krishna came to the rescue, and as he wandered through the kitchens, he saw large amounts of leftover vegetables and curd. He asked the cooks to steam everything together and the ultimate product became the most sought after dish. How are we poor earthlings supposed to resist heaven’s favourite recipe?
· ½ kg vegetables (yam, raw banana, carrots, beans, drumstick, cucumber, potato or any other vegetables of your choice) peeled and cut into even sizes of 1-½ inches.
· 1 Cup Grated Coconut
· 2 Sprigs Curry leaves
· 4 Nos. Green chillies
· ½ tsp Whole cumin
· ½ tsp Mustard seeds
· ¼ tsp Turmeric powder
· ½ Cup Set curds
· 1 tsp Coconut oil
· Salt to taste
How I make it:
1. Arrange the vegetable in a pressure cooker in a manner in which the vegetables that take the longest to cook are at the bottom and the ones that require less time are at the top, add some water and cook till just about done. Drain and set them aside. Please ensure that you do not overcook the vegetables, as it will ruin the dish if they become mushy.
2. Grind the coconut, green chillies and cumin into a coarse paste adding a little bit of water if necessary to get a very coarse consistency.
3. Next, in a medium vessel pour the oil and once it begins to smoke, add the mustard seeds and the curry leaves.
4. Once they begin to crackle, add the turmeric, boiled vegetables and stir to combine together. If you add too much turmeric the whole dish will turn yellow. Ideally the Aviyal should be a neutral white to a very mild yellow.
5. Add in the coarsely ground coconut paste, lower the flame to a simmer and gently mix together the ingredients for a minute taking care not to mash the vegetables.
6. Finally, stir in the yogurt and add salt to taste.
7. Garnish with a few Curry leaves. Serve hot or cold.