This is one of Amma’s (my mom) famous recipes. I may have mentioned it here before, but she used to be referred to as “AP Mami” among her near and dear friends. Mami in Tamil refers to aunt and AP stood for Aviyal (vegetable stew) and Paal Payasam (a traditional Indian rice pudding or kheer). I can’t say much about the creativity of the title nor do I believe it does any justice to her incredible culinary skills, but the name stuck for a while. She became known for her Aviyal and Paal Payasam at pot lucks and other group dinners. Strangely I never really cared to learn these dishes from her growing up, and almost always took them for granted. But I never did develop a taste for Aviyal made by anyone else. And to add to this, I married a foodie, who has a similar taste (at least with this dish, in many other cases, we are quite the opposite:), and who wouldn’t dream of having any other Aviyal but Amma’s.
Rambling aside, here’s the recipe the way Amma makes it. She refused to write it down for me so I had to watch her make it and ignore the “throw this in and add that” instructions. This is a very simple recipe and there’s just a few key things to remember as you cook this dish.
Ingredients: (to serve about 4 people)
1/4 cup beans, cut lengthwise into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup white pumpkin cut into small quarters
5-6 drumsticks (saragava)
1/4 cup raw green plantain cut lengthwise into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup yam cut into small quarters
1 1/2 cups grated coconut
10-12 green chilies (I use Thai green chilies, but you can use longer ones if you need to reduce the heat or deseed them)
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 cup plain lowfat yogurt, beaten
2 tbsp coconut oil
A few curry leaves
Take about 2 cups water in a saucepan, add the mixed chopped vegetables and turmeric and bring to a boil. Boil for a few minutes until cooked. Drain the water into a separate bowl and set aside. You can use this water later for the gravy if needed.
Grind the grated coconut and green chilies to a paste in a blender. You can add the vegetable water set aside (about 1/2 to 3/4 cup) to make a smooth (not too runny) paste.
Add this paste to the cooked vegetables, and add salt . Place the saucepan over a medium flame. This is the most important step to make the perfect aviyal. Make sure you are close to the stove and you are stirring frequently till the mixture comes to a light boil. Once you see the first signs of boiling, add the beaten yogurt and mix well for one more minute. Turn off the stove, add the curry leaves and the coconut oil. Enjoy with some hot white rice!
If you haven’t already noticed, Aviyal does look very similar to the vegetable stew posted earlier but is a different method. Both the dishes have their origins in Kerala though Aviyal is also a very popular dish in Tamil Nadu (states in South India). If you try both, let me know what you think of their distinct tastes.