Southern Indian mixed vegetable dish

Southern Indian mixed vegetable dish

Indian Food Made Easy
Vanessa Courtier

Known as avial, this recipe is one of the most famous vegetable dishes from Tamil Nadu, one of India’s southernmost states. And, as such, it has all the elements of the south with the exception of the choice of fresh vegetables, which I have tampered with to circumvent your search for yam, drumsticks and green bananas – all delicious but slightly inaccessible. You can pair it with any seasonal vegetables, although it does need something starchy. The dish is often served at feasts, but I have reduced the amount of oil and coconut used and happily eat it for lunch with some rice or as part of a meal. It is a deceptively easy dish to make and all the work is in the preparation of the vegetables.


Quantity Ingredient
50g desiccated coconut
2 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 medium onion, peeled and sliced
1-2 green chillies, slit lengthwise but left whole
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
salt, to taste
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters lengthwise and then sliced crosswise on the diagonal
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into fat batons
15cm piece of cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeds scooped out and cut crosswise into 1cm pieces
100g green beans, topped and tailed and sliced lengthwise on the diagonal into three
50g shallots, peeled and halved
10g fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
2 handfuls frozen peas
12 curry leaves
5 level tablespoons plain yoghurt
1 tablespoon coconut oil, (optional)


  1. Soak the coconut in water to cover while you prepare the vegetables.
  2. Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan. Add the cumin, onion and chillies and saute for about 4–5 minutes until the onions are soft and colouring. Add the turmeric, salt, potatoes and carrots and cook for 14 minutes, covered, over a low heat. Stir frequently to make sure the vegetables don’t catch on the base of the pan, adding a sprinkle of water if necessary. Add the cucumber and beans and continue cooking in the same manner until the vegetables are all tender, a further 6–7 minutes or so.
  3. Meanwhile, blend together the shallots, ginger and coconut, along with its soaking water, to make a fine paste. Add to the pan with the peas and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Tear the curry leaves to release their aroma and add to the pan, give it a good stir and add the yoghurt. Turn off the heat and mix well, pouring over the coconut oil, if using.
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