Avial – South Indian Veggie Coconut Curry. Seasonal Vegetables in easy spiced Coconut sauce. Serve over rice, flatbread or dosa crepes. Vegan Gluten-free Soy-free Recipe. Jump to Recipe
Avial is a popular Veggie dish served as a side during celebrations or served with rice or flatbreads for everyday meals. The lightly seasoned coconut sauce is an amazing carrier for the many vegetables. It is often made with five or more veggies that are local and seasonal. Depending on the vegetables used, the cooking is adjusted by adding veggies at different points to avoid overcooking. Some veggies are fully cooked while others just al dente to retain some texture and avoiding a veggie mash.
The sauce is a simple blend of coconut, cumin and green chilies. The fresh chilies and fresh coconut are a match made in flavor heaven. If you cannot find fresh grated coconut, use dried. The simple tempering of mustard seeds with curry leaves is a must.
Avial originated in South India and is common dish in Keralan cuisine. It also has variations based on families and other region versions. This is a simple version based on the home cooked Avial I had in Bangalore long long ago. I remember wondering what to do with the drumsticks (the vegetable) :). Drumsticks are seed pods of the Moringa tree and used in many stewy dishes. There are videos on youtube(of course) on how to prep them and also how to eat!
I use the vegetables that are more easily available here. Use whichever veggies you have in this delicious coconut sauce!
More Southern Indian fare to try from the blog
- Eggplant Sambar (split pea stew) in IP.
- Green Bean, Carrot Poriyal – Green beans coconut carrot stir fry.
- Easy Instant Dosa Crepes with Coconut chutney and Masala potatoes. GF option
- Chickpeas in peppery curry leaf coconut sauce.
- Bisi Bele Bath Pressure Cooker Split Pea Brown Rice Soup
- Okra Kuzambu – Okra in tamarind coconut sauce.
- Chickpea sundal – Chickpea Coconut warm salad.
Southern Indian cuisine often uses specific ingredients that are not as easily available in regular stores and might need a trip to the Indian store. Curry leaves have nothing to do with curry powder, they are a vibrant flavored leaf used in seasoning like bay leaves. Fresh curry leaves are amazing in this recipe. You can get a batch and freeze them in a ziplock and use directly from the freezer, they behave close to fresh. You can also use dried curry leaves that are easier to find in online stores.
Fresh grated coconut also can be found in Indian stores, often in the frozen section. You can also shred your own fresh coconut :). Put the fresh coconut through an Indian grater or a food processor. I use either the pre grated frozen version or dried coconut in a pinch. This is a simple recipe with few ingredients, don’t let the instructions which have lots of tips deter you!
If you make this South Indian Curry, Do let me know in the comments how it worked out!
Avial - South Indian Veggie Coconut Curry
- 2.5 to 3 cups (120 g) chopped vegetables such as potato, white pumpkin, carrots, green beans, summer squash, indian local squash, drumsticks(moringa tree pods), raw banana/plantain etc
- dash of salt and turmeric
- 1/2 cup (40 g) shredded coconut , fresh or dried
- 1 green chili 2 for hotter
- 1/2 tsp (0.5 tsp) salt
- 1/4 tsp (0.25 tsp) turmeric
- 1/4 tsp (0.25 tsp) cumin seeds or ground cumin
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) water
- 1 tsp oil
- 1/2 tsp (0.5 tsp) mustard seeds
- 1 green chili chopped
- 7 to 8 curry leaves
- Cube the vegetables to about similar size. Add to a bowl and toss in a good dash of salt and turmeric.
- Cook the veggies: Steam the veggies for 15 to 20 minutes in a steamer or until cooked. Or add to a saucepan with 1/2 cup water, cover and cook over medium heat for 12 to 15 mins. Or add to a Pressure cooker/Instant Pot with 1/2 cup water and pressure cook for 2 mins, release naturally. (for quicker cooking vegetables like raw plantain, cook the separately if needed to avoid mush, or add to the saucepan half way through).
- Blend the coconut, green chilies, spices and water to make a coarse mixture . The chilies and cumin should have blended. (If using dried coconut, blend for 30 seconds, then let the mixture sit for 5 mins to rehydrate, then blend again for 30 seconds to a min. Blend longer for smoother sauce).
- Add the blended mixture to the cooked veggies and bring to boil over medium heat. (on saute if using Instant Pot). Take off heat. (You can add 1/4 cup non dairy yogurt or 1 tsp tamarind paste with the coconut mixture for a sour profile). Taste and adjust salt, heat, flavor. Add more water if needed.
- Make the tempering: Heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the mustard seeds carefully and wait for them to start to sputter. Add the green chilies and curry leaves and mix for a few seconds. Then take off heat.
- Add the tempering to the veggies and serve hot with flatbread, rice, dosa, or adai.