I was at the Millennium, a vegan/vegetarian restaurant for our anniversary dinner, and this place has a ton of reviews on yelp hailing it as something of a mecca for vegan food and somesuch. I personally didn’t really enjoy the food so much. I do appreciate the chef’s varied menu, but whatever we got was bland, cardboady, and lost under a ton of raw leaves. Its more the kind of food the hipster food-snobs would like, I guess. What I was really disappointed with, was that the food brought out to the table didn’t really seem as ‘much’ as it did on the menu. Good thing we got a few rounds of drinks to wash our ‘ethically sourced’, ‘trade free’ and other fancy worded stuff from exotic sounding places down!
I wanted to make it up to my disappointed tastebuds and cooked up this really easy vegetable stew – Avial the next day. This is a recipe native to the southern state of India, Kerala, and is healthy, has a plethora of veggies thrown in and little to no oil, all in some amazing coconut and yogurt gravy! Here’s my take on this
- Winter Melon/ Ash Gourd
- Peanuts soaked in water for 4-6 hours
- Green Peas (fresh or frozen)
- Ivy gourd (This is my most favorite veggie and I usually find this either fresh or frozen in Indian Stores
- French Beans
- 5-6 Curry Leaves
- Salt to taste
- 1 heaped cup of fresh coconut
- 1.5 tbsp Cumin Seeds (Jeera)
- 1.5 or 2 Thai Chillies
- 1 tsp coconut oil
- 1.5 tsp Mustard Seeds
- 1/4 tsp Asafoetida Powder (Available in most Indian stores or Here. Can skip this if you don’t have any)
The veggies listed above are what I used, you can either add to them or omit some.
Add all the cut vegetables and the curry leaves to a large pan. In this recipe, I have about 5 cups of vegetables. To the veggies, add about 1/2 cup water and salt as necessary. I’m using winter melon, which has a lot of water in it, so 1/2 a cup of water works for this recipe. If you’re not using a vegetable that has a lot of water content, you can up the water to about 1 cup.
Once the veggies are set to steam, we work on the masala. Lightly dry roast the cumin seeds and grind them along with the chillies, coconut and yogurt to make a paste. Add this masala to the veggies once they’re 3/4th done. Mix everything together and adjust salt accordingly.
Once the vegetables are fully cooked, start preparing the tempering. Take a small pan, and add 1 tsp of coconut oil to it. Once it heats up, add the mustard seeds and wait for them to splutter. Add 1/4 teaspoon of asafoetida powder and quickly pour the tempering onto the vegetable mixture. Cover the curry with a lid after adding the tempering.
Serve the curry with some hot steaming rice or rotis. This curry complements brown rice or quinoa extremely well too! To make this recipe vegan, simply omit the yogurt in the coconut masala.