Avial also called as aviyal is a popular and traditional mix vegetable dish from the Kerala cuisine, though you can also find this dish prepared in parts of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. It is an essential dish of Sadya (a festive vegetarian feast served on plantain leaf). I share a traditional method of making a flavorful avial with mixed vegetables, fresh coconut, curry leaves, coconut oil and curd (yogurt). Serve with steamed rice, sambar, pickle and some papadoms for a hearty and satisfying meal.
What is Avial
According to Wikipedia, Avial was invented by the mighty Bhima – one of the five Pandava brothers from the Mahabharata epic. As per the legend, during their 14-year exile, Bhima was given the charge of the royal kitchen of King Virata as a cook. During that time it is said that he invented this dish out of necessity.
Avial is basically a healthy mix of various vegetables in a coconut and yogurt sauce with a finishing of coconut oil and curry leaves.
In the recipe, the vegetables that are added are not the usual mixed veggie combination like cauliflower, carrot, peas, beans. The veggies are unique and largely seasonal depending on what is available.
The vegetables that make up the avial dish are:
- Drumsticks (sahjan ki phalli, moringa pods)
- Madras cucumber – also known as Mangalore cucumber or field marrow
- Raw plaintain – Unripe bananas
- Pumpkin (kaddu)
- Ash gourd (petha)
- Green beans – any variety can be used
- Tendli (tindora, ivy gourd)
- Suran (elephant foot yam)
- Snake gourd
You can always go for your own combinations of veggies depending on the availability and your choice. Coconut oil is another ingredient that should not be given a miss if you want the authentic taste of aviyal.
About This Recipe
There are some variations of making this dish. Three variations, I know of are that of making avial with raw mango, tamarind and curd. My recipe features curd as this is how avial was always made in my home.
It is not a curried version but a slightly thicker version where the coconut and yogurt sauce coats the veggies.
While making aviyal, its always important to cook the vegetables well. The veggies have to be cooked tender, but should not be mushy or fall apart. While cooking veggies, do not add more water as the vegetables also release a lot of their juices while cooking.
Remember first to cook vegetables that take a long time and then later add vegetables which take less time to cook. If you mix everything at once, you will have a mish-mash of veggies where some veggies will be overcooked, pasty and mushy.
In the step by step photos below I have shared the details of cooking various veggies. So you don’t need to worry which veggie to cook first.
Lets begin with the cooking process!
How to make Avial
1. Firstly rinse all the veggies very well with water and then drain all the water. I have used ash gourd, pumpkin, drumsticks, elephant foot yam, Mangalore cucumber, plantain and green beans.
2. Then peel and chop them in medium to long sticks or batons. The vegetables need to be chopped like a slight thick potato french fry. Keep the chopped veggies aside.
3. For the chopped unripe banana, keep them immersed in water in a bowl so that they do not darken.
4. Beat 1 cup fresh curd (yogurt) with a wired whisk and keep aside.
B) Making coconut paste
5. In a grinder jar or blender take 1 cup fresh grated coconut, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds and 2 to 3 green chilies (chopped).
6. Add ⅓ to ½ cup water and grind to a coarse paste. Keep this coconut paste aside.
7. Take the vegetables which take a longer time to cook in a pan or pot. I have here added elephant foot yam, drumsticks and green beans (french beans) first.
If the drumsticks are very tender then add them later with veggies that take less time to cook. I added them here as I had drumsticks which take a longer time to cook.
8. Sprinkle ½ teaspoon turmeric powder and salt as per taste.
9. Add 1 cup of water.
10. Stir well.
11. Cover the pan with a lid and keep it on a stovetop on medium-low to medium heat.
12. Simmer till the vegetables are half cooked. You can cook for 12 to 15 minutes.
13. Then add the remaining vegetables which take less time to cook. At this step I have added plantains (unripe bananas), Mangalore cucumber (field marrow), ash gourd and pumpkin.
14. Mix it with the remaining half cooked vegetables.
15. Cover the pan with a lod and continue to cook on medium-low to medium heat.
16. In between do check and if the water dries, you can always add more hot water and mix gently.
17. Simmer till the vegetables are almost cooked.
18. Then add the ground coconut paste prepared earlier.
19. Mix gently but well.
20. Let the mixture simmer for 5 to 7 minutes or till the veggies are completely cooked. They should be tender and yet hold shape. So do not cook them too much. If the mixture becomes dry, then add some hot water.
21. When all the veggies are cooked, then reduce the heat to a low. Add the whisked curd.
22. Mix gently. And simmer the avial for a minute and switch off the heat.
23. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons coconut oil. I suggest not to swap coconut oil with any other oil for an authentic flavor and taste.
24. Also add 12 to 15 curry leaves. Mix well. Then cover the pan with a lid and let the flavors infuse for 5 minutes.
25. Serve avial hot or warm with steamed rice, varutharacha sambar, pickle and some papadoms. It makes for a healthy, satisfying, flavorful and filling meal.
Few more veggie recipes for you!
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Avial is a healthy, flavorful dish of mix vegetables in a coconut and yogurt sauce with a finishing of coconut oil and curry leaves. It is a popular traditional recipe from the Kerala cuisine.
Prep Time 25 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Total Time 1 hr
For coconut paste
Firstly rinse all the veggies with fresh water. Then drain all the water.
Then peel and chop them in medium to long thick sticks or batons. Keep aside.
For chopped unripe banana, keep them immersed in water so that they do not darken.
Beat 1 cup fresh curd with wired whisk and keep aside.
Making coconut paste
In a grinder take 1 cup grated coconut, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds and 2 to 3 green chilies (chopped).
Add ⅓ to ½ cup water and grind to a coarse paste. Keep this coconut paste aside.
Take the vegetables which take a longer time to cook in a pan or pot. I have added carrots, drumsticks and green beans (french beans) first.
If the drumsticks are very tender then add them later with veggies that take less time to cook. I added at this step as I had drumsticks which take a longer time to cook.
Sprinkle ½ teaspoon turmeric powder and salt as per taste.
Add 1 cup water and stir well.
Cover the pan and keep it on a stove top on medium-low to medium flame.
Simmer till the vegetables are half cooked.
Then add the remaining vegetables which take less time to cook. At this step I have added plantain, mangalore cucumber (field marrow), ash gourd and pumpkin.
Mix it with the remaining half cooked vegetables.
Cover and continue to cook on medium-low to medium flame.
In between do check and if the water dries, you can always add more water.
Simmer till the vegetables are almost cooked.
Add the ground coconut paste.
Mix gently but well.
Let the mixture simmer for some 5 to 7 minutes or till the veggies are completely cooked. They should hold shape. So do not cook them too much. If the mixture becomes dry, then add some water.
When all the veggies are cooked and softened, then reduce the flame to a low. Add the whisked curd.
Mix gently. And simmer for a minute and switch off the flame.
Add 1 to 2 tablespoons coconut oil.
Also add 12 to 15 curry leaves. Mix well. Then cover and let the flavors infuse for 5 minutes.
Serve avial with steamed rice, kerala sambar, pickle and some papadums. It makes for a healthy, filling and satisfying lunch or dinner.
- Avial is not spicy. But if you want a spicy taste then increase the number of green chilies.
- Fresh coconut is essential to the dish. But if you don’t have fresh coconut then you can use frozen coconut. But I don’t recommend using desiccated coconut.
- The cooked veggies should be tender and yet hold shape. They should not become mushy or pasty or fall apart.
- Use veggies that are locally and seasonally available to you.
- Use curd that is fresh and made from whole milk. Curd made from toned milk or low fat milk can split.
- The recipe can be scaled.
Amount Per Serving
Calories 259 Calories from Fat 117
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 10g63%
Vitamin A 3230IU65%
Vitamin C 83mg101%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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This Avial recipe post from the archives (November 2011) has been republished and updated on 12 June 2021.