Malaysia -- Vegetarian Curry with Coconut Milk Recipe | cookshideout

Steps by steps making Avial

Avial, also spelled as Aviyal, is a traditional dish from the South Indian state of Kerala, although it is also popular in Tamil Nadu and other neighboring regions. It is a thick mixture of various vegetables, coconut, curd, and seasoned with coconut oil and curry leaves.

This dish is considered a wholesome and healthful staple in local cuisine, particularly because it contains a variety of nutritious vegetables such as carrots, drumsticks, beans, pumpkins, brinjals, and plantain. These are cut into long strips and boiled with slightly salted water or sometimes cooked in their own steam (which preserves more nutrients).

Avial Recipe

Malaysia -- Vegetarian Curry with Coconut Milk Recipe | cookshideout


Avial is a delicious mixed vegetable stew in a yogurt-coconut sauce. It is quite popular in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The Onam festival feast is incomplete without this avial. Here, I share my mother’s recipe. You can serve this gravy with rice or with Adai, mixed lentil pancakes.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Vegetable
Cuisine Indian
Servings 6 people
Calories 987 kcal


  • 1 large skillet
  • 1 blender


  • 4 cups mixed chunked vegetables such as plantain, drumstick, potato, carrot, squash, winter melon, or pumpkin
  • 11/4 cups water divided
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 cup shredded fresh coconut or frozen, thawed to room temperature
  • 3 green chiles
  • 2 curry leaf sprigs
  • 1 cup thick yogurt lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil


  • In a large skillet over medium-high heat, combine the mixed vegetables, 1 cup of water, salt, and turmeric. Cover and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until the vegetables are tender yet firm.
  • While the vegetables cook, in a blender, combine the coconut and green chiles. Pulse a few times to grind. With the blender running, slowly add the remaining 1⁄4 cup of water until a smooth paste forms.
  • When the vegetables are at the desired firmness, stir in the coconut paste and curry leaves. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat and stir in the yogurt and coconut oil. Partially cover the skillet with a lid and let the avial sit for 5 to 10 minutes for the flavors to infuse.


While you can use a variety of vegetables for this dish, I don’t recommend okra, bitter gourd or radish.
Keyword chunked vegetables

Cooking Tips about Avial

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  • Use Fresh Vegetables: To ensure the best taste and nutrition, use a variety of fresh seasonal vegetables. Traditional vegetables include carrots, drumsticks, beans, pumpkins, brinjals (eggplant), and plantains.
  • Cut Uniformly: Chop all vegetables into uniform, long strips. This not only enhances presentation but also ensures even cooking.
  • Cook Properly: Some vegetables may take longer to cook than others. Start with the ones that require more time and add the others gradually, taking care not to overcook and lose their texture.
  • Blend Coconut Mix Smoothly: For the distinctive flavor of Avial, grind the grated coconut with cumin seeds and green chilies into a smooth paste. This paste is vital as it is what provides much of the dish’s character.
  • Sour Curd is Key: The addition of sour curd (yogurt) towards the end of cooking lends a tangy flavor which balances the creaminess of coconut. Ensure the curd is beaten well and added at low heat to prevent curdling.
  • Do Not Over-Stir: Stir the vegetables gently to ensure they maintain their shape and do not become mushy after adding the coconut paste and curd.
  • Temper with Curry Leaves and Coconut Oil: For an authentic flavor, finish off by tempering with curry leaves and drizzle a spoonful of coconut oil over the cooked vegetables. It’s traditional not to mix the oil in entirely.
  • Adjust Consistency: Avial should have a thick consistency, but if you find it too dry, you can add a little water or more curd to loosen it up.
  • Season Carefully: When seasoning your Avial with salt, do so conservatively. Since curd also has a slight saltiness, it’s easy to overseason.
  • Serve Warm: Avial is typically served warm. Although it can be reheated, doing so carefully on a low flame helps preserve its flavors and textures.

Serving suggestions about Avial

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  • With Steamed Rice: A classic South Indian serving suggestion is to pair Avial with steamed rice. The creaminess of the coconut-based dish goes well with plain rice, offering a balanced meal.
  • As part of a Sadya: In Kerala, Avial is often included in a traditional feast called ‘Sadya,’ which is served on banana leaves and includes a variety of dishes.
  • With Adai Pancakes: Avial can be served alongside Adai, a South Indian savory pancake made from a mixture of lentils and rice. The combination is both satisfying and protein-rich.
  • With Dosa or Idli: For a lighter meal, serve Avial with dosa (a thin, crispy crepe) or idli (steamed rice cakes). These South Indian staples complement the thick vegetable curry perfectly.
  • As a Side Dish: Avial can also work as a side dish for other main courses, pairing well with spicy chicken, lamb, or fish curries, providing a milder-tasting counterpoint.
  • Accompanying Biriyani: It can be served as a side dish with aromatic biryani, offering a refreshing contrast to the rich and spicy flavors of the rice.
  • With Chapati or Parotta: Some might enjoy Avial with Indian flatbreads like chapati or the flaky parotta, dipping pieces of the bread into the thick curry.

Top 5 FAQs about Avial

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  • What vegetables can be used to make Avial? Avial is quite versatile, and you can use a variety of fresh seasonal vegetables. Traditional vegetables include carrots, drumsticks, beans, pumpkins, brinjals (eggplant), and plantain, but feel free to add or substitute these with other vegetables such as cucumber, squash, or snake gourd.
  • Can Avial be made without curd for a vegan version? Yes, for a vegan version of Avial, you can exclude curd and substitute it with tamarind paste or raw mango for the tanginess. Just ensure you adjust the quantity to suit your taste preference.
  • How can I prevent the vegetables from becoming too mushy in Avial? To prevent overcooking the vegetables and maintain their texture, start by cooking those that take longer, such as drumsticks and potatoes, and then gradually add quicker-cooking vegetables. Additionally, avoid over-stirring after adding the ground coconut paste and the curd.
  • What is the significance of adding coconut oil at the end, and can I use another type of oil? Coconut oil provides a signature aroma and flavor to Avial, enhancing its authentic South Indian taste. While you can use other oils, doing so will alter the traditional flavor. For the best experience, it is recommended to use coconut oil.
  • How do I store leftover Avial and how long will it keep? Leftover Avial can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two days. When reheating, do so gently on the stove over low heat to retain the flavors and consistency. Freezing Avial is possible but not recommended, as it may significantly change the texture of the vegetables.

Avial stands as a testament to the culinary diversity and simplicity of South Indian cuisine. A nutritious melange of vegetables, it represents a harmonious blend of tastes and textures that appeal to both the palate and the soul. The variety of fresh seasonal produce used in Avial makes it not only a colorful dish but also one that offers various health benefits. The addition of coconut and sour curd introduces a delicate balance of creaminess and tang, while the tempering with curry leaves and coconut oil imparts an authentic flavor unique to Kerala’s food culture.


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