This story behind Avial recipe, with its origins in The Mahabharata is just as interesting as this healthy vegetarian dish.
Once Ballav-the-Chef alias Bheem during Agyaatavas in Virat Rajya had a tough time with cooking. After the royal lunch was over Ballav was taking a snooze when suddenly the arrival of guests sent alarm bells ringing. Rishi Durvasa, the ever-known hot-tempered sage had walked in with his large entourage of sages and announced his plans to have lunch here. There was no other way than to satisfy Durvasa with delicious food to avoid his wrath and curse.
Queen Sudeshna arrived at the royal kitchen and ordered Ballav to cook food for the guests. The short-tempered Rishi Durvasa was always the hardest to please and it took him only a moment to fly into a rage and curse the poor fellows if the hospitality and food did not satisfy him.
Worried about how he can arrange a feast for such esteemed guests at a short notice, Ballav went into the pantry to try and make do with whatever he had. All he found were small bits of all vegetables in the store. He scratched his head and started thinking what to cook out of this odd mix.
As Bheem on the battlefield, the mighty warrior used to wield his mace with lightning speed. As Ballav in the kitchen, he showed the same agility and quick thinking with the ladle and the wok. Surprisingly Rishi Durvasa was extremely happy with the food and appreciated the cook and his dish.
As learnt from a close Malayali friend, this story behind Avial, with its origins in The Mahabharata is just as interesting as this healthy vegetarian dish. Another of my friends recalled that the legendary singer Manna Dey had in a TV interview, mentioned Avial as his favourite food. Such a combination of taste and health is a sure winner, undoubtedly!
Preparing this tasty vegetable is fun.
1. Petha (White Pumpkin) – 100 g cut into rectangle pieces
2. Green banana – 2 cut into long/rectangle pieces
3. Sweet potato – 100 g cut into rectangle pieces
4. Potato – 100 g cut into rectangle pieces
5. Carrot – 1 cut into rectangle pieces
6. Cauliflower – 1 small cut into large pieces
7. Arum root – 100 g cut into rectangle pieces
8. Sitaphal / Kumro (Yellow Pumpkin)
9. Coconut – ½ cup (freshly grated)
10. Ginger – 1 inches (paste)
11. Green chillies – 2 (longitudinally slit)
12. Curd – 150 g (stir with a bit of salt and sugar)
13. Salt – Add to taste
14. Sugar – I tsp
15. Curry leaves – 10-15
16. Black mustard seeds – 1 tsp
17. Dry red chillies – 2
18. Refined sunflower oil – 2-3 tbsp
Cut all the vegetables, keep separately.
Wash the vegetables.
Boil green banana and arum root to half cook and strain off the water.
a. Put oil in a non-stick wok and put on the flame.
b. Heat oil and put mustard seeds and red chillies. Wait till the seeds crackle.
c. Add half the curry leaves (use lid to avoid oil to spill off).
d. Add all the vegetables except the cauliflowers. Stir for a couple of minutes on high flame.
e. Add rest of the curry leaves, green chillies, ginger paste, salt and a bit of water and stir. Reduce flame to moderate.
f. Cover with the lid for cooking. Occasionally control the flame.
g. Occasionally remove lid, stir as required and add the cauliflowers.
h. Check when vegetables 3/4th cooked.
i. Add curd and grated coconut.
j. Add sugar.
k. Cook till it is done. Keep the lid open if you want the curry to dry.
Your Avial is done. Serve the curry with steamed rice.
Taste it and you will know why a satisfied Rishi Durvasa blessed Ballav!
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