Aviyal is a South Indian dish that is made up of thin strips of any crisp vegetables you can get your hands on. I found this in a cookbook, and it looked interesting, so I thought I would Google it to see if the recipe was anywhere near authentic. It’s safe to say that this recipe is a North Americanized version of the dish, as many of the ‘acceptable veggies’ that are often used in this dish are probably not easy to find. We go to Little India, here in Toronto, every once in a while, so I may just try to make Aviyal the ‘real’ way sometime this summer.
The one thing that is intact in this recipe is the inclusion of coconut. Coconut seems to be a primary ingredient in the sauce. I am a little bit skepical, however, as many comments about Aviyal is that it also has a lovely sour taste to it (sometimes introduced by tamarind). There was nothing sour about this dinner. I did take one ingredient out of the dish. After reading up on the dish, and the “rules” for making it, I really couldn’t bring myself to put in any tomato. The #1 rule is to use only vegetables that would remain crisp when cooked. That means you shouldn’t use tomato, eggplant, okra, or even regular onions (which the recipe also called for). Luckily, I had some green leek on hand, which gave a nice onion flavour without the mushy fried onion texture.
The dish was a hit! The veggies were still crisp and fresh tasting, and the sauce was light and coconutty. The sauce is actually a little hard to describe — the coconut meat, which makes up the bulk of the ‘sauce’ was really not saucey at all. Some coconut milk did come out of the coconut, however, and nicely mixed with the spices to make a yummy sauce.
This recipe is from the book “Simple Vegetarian Recipes” by Rosemary Wadey et al. (p.45)