avial

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Avial is a South Indian dish which is a semi dry preparation of mixed vegetables and has a special place in the cuisines of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Udupi. It is made by using different types of vegetables, curd and coconut. This thick mixture of vegetables is seasoned with curry leaves and coconut oil.
 

Origin of Avial Recipe
Avial, which means “a mixture” or “an assortment “is believed to be invented by Bhima, the second eldest brothers of the Pandavas from the epic Mahabharata. According to the Hindu Mythology, during the exile of the Pandavas, Bhima was staying in the disguise of Ballav, the cook who worked in the kitchen of Virata. He did not know cooking, however in order to do his duty; he chopped the vegetables and prepared a dish by just boiling them. Coconut was added later once it was cooked. This is how avial was prepared for the first time and depending on the method of cooking by mixing, which is also how the dish got its name.
 

Ingredients and Method of Preparing Avial
There are certain ingredients required as suggested in the avial recipe. Vegetables, coconut, curd, curry leaves, coconut oil are the basic ones. Commonly used vegetables are plantain, yam, pumpkin, carrots, brinjal, beans and avarai. Firstly, coconut, green chilies and cumin seeds are grinded together adding very little water. Curd is mixed and a paste is prepared. While preparing avial, vegetables are boiled separately in a heavy bottomed vessel with little water, salt and turmeric is added. When cooked, pre prepared curd paste is added along with coconut oil and curry leaves and the vessel is removed from the heat.
 

Avial Recipe Variations
The taste of the avial recipe depends on the vegetables used. However, it does not change tremendously since the basic ingredients remain the same. Cucumber, snake gourd, drumstick are used sometimes in this dish. Sometimes raw mango or tamarind pulp is used in lieu of curd giving it a different taste. Avial can be cooked as gravy to be served with rice or can be prepared as a semi dry side dish.
 

Serving Avial
It is an inevitable part of “Sadhya” which means banquet in Malayalam. A Sadhya is a traditional vegetarian meal served in big feasts associated with auspicious occasions like marriage, birthday, child birth etc. Traditionally Avial is served on banana leaf where people use to sit on the floor cross legged. It is also served on festival called Onam. This dish can be served either as a main course with rice or can be served as a side dish depending on the cooking style. It tastes best when served hot.
 

Some Health Facts Related to Avial Recipe
Avial is mainly made of vegetables which are a high source of vitamins and minerals and are low in fat. Since, this dish is prepared by boiling; it is beneficial for health wherethe food value remains intact. Curd helps in digestion and cools the stomach. However, it is high in calories and unhealthy for those suffering from obesity.