Avial – Boiled vegetables in coconut gravy

avial or boiled vegetables in coconut gravy and a bowl of red rice and some shallots and grated coconut strewn around

Avial, a traditional dish of Southern India, is a medley of boiled vegetables in a delicious tangy coconut and tamarind gravy. Avial is generally a vegan dish, but there are modified versions which use yogurt or egg or fish as one of the ingredients.

To me, avial is one of the dishes which invokes a lot of childhood memories since it is one of the best and healthy dishes that my mom cooks.

The best part of cooking the avial is that you can choose from a variety of seasonal vegetables, one of the main vegetables being drumstick or moringa, the latest favorite among health enthusiasts. Avial helps you get varied nutrients from different vegetables which is important when you’re trying to eat healthily. Legend has it that the avial was created when a housewife had a whole lot of leftover vegetables and decided to be resourceful, thus creating a single recipe that used up everything deliciously!

In Kerala, one of the Southern states of India, you can find the avial as one of the must-have side dishes in the menu of a home cook on every festive occasion. However, you need not wait for such an occasion to try this delectable recipe which is naturally vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, low GI and full of fibre and goodness. A bowl of red rice is sufficient to enjoy this wholesome dish with. Eat the avial with “lentil curry (dal) with spinach for added protein,

or pair the avial with “stir-fried red rice.”

Recipe for avial or boiled vegetables in coconut gravy that serves 4


  • drumstick or moringa – 3, ends trimmed
  • carrot – 1
  • potato – 1 large, peeled
  • old cucumber – half, peeled and deseeded
  • winter melon – a small palm-sized wedge, about the same size as half of the old cucumber, peeled and deseeded
  • grated coconut – half cup
  • shallots – 5, peeled and roughly chopped
  • cumin seeds – 1 teaspoon
  • tamarind – 1 inch piece
  • dry red chillies – 2
  • turmeric powder – 1/4 teaspoon
  • salt to taste
  • curry leaves and 1 teaspoon of coconut oil for garnish


  1. Chop the first five vegetables into one and a half inch long batons. Boil them in a large pan of water until cooked very soft and drain.
  2. Blend the grated coconut, shallots, cumin seeds, tamarind, chillies, turmeric and salt with a tablespoon of water to a coarse paste.
  3. Mix the blended paste with the boiled and drained vegetables and cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Drizzle coconut oil, garnish with curry leaves and serve.
avial or boiled vegetables in coconut gravy on a ceramic white plate

Tips for a flavourful avial

  • Vegetables such as yam, French beans, string beans or raw banana can also be used.
  • Raw mango cut into batons can be boiled along with the vegetables, in which case the tamarind can be omitted.
  • For a non-vegan version, 2 tablespoons of plain yogurt can be substituted for tamarind; mix in the yogurt just before serving.
  • Before garnishing with curry leaves, tear them into halves to bring out the flavour.

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