Where are the vegetables? I told my husband when he said he wanted to have our favourite dish- the healthy, tasty and interesting Avial.
Avial is made from a combination of elephant yam, plantain, pumpkin, carrots, beans, eggplant, sometimes, cucumber, drum sticks, snake gourd. All the vegetables are boiled and then curd and coconut added with tempering. Essentially, the main task in making avial is chopping the vegetables and boiling them keeping in mind how much time each of them take to cook.
My husband usually helps me with the chopping and so this is a time of bonding and even a bit of romance as my husband usually tickles me while chopping the drumstick.
We were quite intrigued when we got to know there is even a lot of mythology associated with this dish.
It is supposed to have been invented by Bhima (one of the Pandava brothers) during their exile. According to the legend, when Ballav (Bhima’s name during this time) assumed his duties as the cook in the kitchen of Virata, he did not know how to cook. One of the first things he did was to chop up many different vegetables, boil them together and top the dish with grated coconut.
Another version relates to the attempt made by Kauravas to kill Bhima. After poisoning Bhima, Kauravas tied Bhima and threw him to water. After the completion of the days of mourning, a funeral feast was planned and preparation were underway. Unexpectedly, Bhima emerged from the water, rescued by the Nagas. With this, preparations for the feast was cancelled. However, Bhima was unhappy with this decision, and decided to mix all of the vegetables to prepare a new dish, that later became popular as Avial.
Yet another myth is that in the kingdom of Thiruvithankor in Kerala there was a great fest held by the king. Everyone in the kingdom came to eat so there was a shortage of curry to be served. Still in the kitchen stocks were less so when the king visited the kitchen he found that a lot of vegetables were wasted when they were peeled. The king ordered the cook to make a curry with this along with some other ingredients and Avial was born.
Whatever the origin, I for one am extremely happy that Avial was invented and has become a part of our lives.Published in