Anu's Avial
© Petrina Tinslay

Anu's Avial

  • SERVINGS: 4 to 6

Avial, a favorite of Aniamma Philip's daughter-in-law, Anu Mathew, is a stew made with ordinary vegetables like cucumber, carrot, potato and string beans. What makes the combination exotic is the pungent mixture of fresh coconut, green chiles, garlic and cumin that's folded in at the end, cooled by a bit of creamy whole-milk yogurt. Avial is also one of the traditional dishes in sadhya, a vegetarian feast presented on banana leaves at family celebrations.

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  1. 1 medium cucumber—peeled, seeded and cut into 3-by-1/3-inch sticks
  2. 1 baking potato (1/2 pound), peeled and cut into 1-by-1/4-inch matchsticks
  3. 1 medium carrot, cut into 1-by-1/4-inch matchsticks
  4. 3 ounces green beans, cut into 1-inch lengths
  5. 1 medium tomato, coarsely chopped
  6. 5 long hot green chiles—3 halved lengthwise and seeded, 2 seeded and thinly sliced crosswise
  7. 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
  8. 1 cup water
  9. 1 teaspoon turmeric
  10. 1 1/2 cups (5 1/4 ounces) shredded unsweetened coconut
  11. 3 medium shallots, very thinly sliced
  12. 1 garlic clove, very thinly sliced
  13. 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  14. 12 fresh curry leaves
  15. 1 underripe banana, cut into 1-by-1/4-inch sticks
  16. 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
  17. Salt
  1. In a large saucepan, combine the cucumber, potato, carrot, beans, tomato, the halved chiles and 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil. Add the water and turmeric and bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce the heat to moderate, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.
  2. In a food processor, combine the sliced chiles, coconut, shallots, garlic and cumin seeds and process to a paste. Stir the paste into the vegetables and simmer for 4 minutes.
  3. In a small skillet, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil until shimmering. Add the curry leaves and fry over high heat until sizzling, about 10 seconds. Add the oil and fried curry leaves to the stew, along with the banana and simmer for 1 minute. Stir in the yogurt. Season with salt and serve.
Serve With
Steamed white rice.