Avial and post holiday blues

Mallika Basu - Avial and post holiday blues

Posted 8th January 2009



Happy New Year everyone. This year I had the dubious pleasure of partying stone sober until the wee hours of the morning while everyone drank too much and imploded like cheap Christmas tree lights. Now I back at work with post holiday blues. Don’t you just love ’em?

In my years of moping around following the festive season, I now have a tried and tested formula for surviving the dreaded New Year return. I:

  • Blew my entire January salary in the winter sales
  • Pencilled a party on Saturday to celebrate my birthday
  • Booked a week long holiday to recover

Of course, no post-Christmas period would be complete without lashings of guilt at having consumed more food than the average farmyard pig. So  I am also keeping a close eye on what I eat, upping intake of veggies and limiting chocolates to a sensible quantity.

The first Indian recipe of the year was a healthy treat from the South of India – Avial. This coconut-steeped steamed vegetable curry was light, refreshing and the perfect way for me to use up the remaining carrots and potatoes in my complimentary box of organic vegetables from Abel & Cole.

The best thing about Avial is the coconut in it. My usual trick is to by frozen grated coconut at Oriental supermarkets. But I also buy fresh coconut when they’re in season. As I had neither I used unsweetened dessicated coconut, which worked remarkably well!

Coconut isn’t the most low fat of ingredients. But its good for you and and I steamed all veggies in my recipe making it far more healthy. And there is a whole list of other vegetables you can use.

A positive start to the New Year methinks. Hope yours is filled with good things!

Feeds 4:

  • 80gm green beans
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1 medium potato
  • 75gm dessicated coconut
  • 15 curry leaves
  • 3 green finger chillies
  • Half tsp whole cumin
  • Half tsp mustard seeds
  • Half tsp turmeric powder
  • 4 tbsps natural Greek or thick yogurt
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp coconut oil

Soak the dessicated coconut in enough hot water to cover it. Peel and slice the carrots and potato into straws and cook in a steamer or a covered colander over boiling water. Cut the green beans into 1.5inch pieces and add to the steamer.

When the vegetables are cooked through, set them aside. Grind the coconut, green chillies and cumin into a thick paste adding two tablespoons of water if necessary to get the consistency.

Next, in a medium pot bring the oil to heat over a high flame. When it’s hot, add the mustard seeds and 10 curry leaves. As they begin to crackle, stir in the turmeric, steamed veg and stir thoroughly to mix together. Add in the coconut paste, lower the flame to a simmer and gently mix together the ingredients for a minute taking care not to mash the vegetables.

Finally, stir in the yogurt and add salt to taste. Traditionally, this is served with a soft savoury lentil pancake called Adai but I just ate it with oven hot ready naan. Delicious either way!

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