Authentic Avial Recipe from South India with Fresh Vegetables and Coconut


Authentic Avial Recipe from South India with Fresh Vegetables and Coconut
Region / culture: India, South India | Preparation time: 15 minutes | Cooking time: 20 minutes | Servings: 4



Avial, a traditional South Indian dish, is a symphony of vegetables, coconut, and spices, all gently simmered to create a dish that is both nutritious and bursting with flavors. This beloved recipe hails from the Indian states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu and is a staple during festivals and family gatherings. Its unique combination of vegetables and coconut-based gravy makes it a versatile dish that can complement rice or be enjoyed as a standalone meal.


The origins of Avial are steeped in mythology and history, tracing back to the Mahabharata, an ancient Indian epic. Legend has it that Bhima, one of the Pandava brothers, invented this dish during their exile when he had to cook with the limited ingredients available in the forest. Over the centuries, Avial has evolved, with each region in South India adding its own twist to the recipe, making it a rich tapestry of India's culinary heritage.


How to prepare

  1. In a large saucepan, combine the peas, carrots, squash, plantain, bell peppers, beans, turmeric, and curry leaves.
  2. Add a cup of water and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer partially covered until the vegetables are tender and have absorbed all the liquid (10 minutes).
  3. Ensure that the vegetables do not become too mushy, as the slight crunch enhances the flavor of the dish.
  4. In a bowl, whisk the yogurt and set it aside.
  5. In a blender, mix the coconut, chilies, and cumin seeds into a paste using a small amount of water.
  6. Add this paste to the yogurt and mix in the salt to create seasoned yogurt.
  7. Add the seasoned yogurt to the cooked vegetables in the pan. Sprinkle with coconut oil and mix well, being careful not to break the vegetables.
  8. Cover and simmer over very low heat until the mixture is warmed through. Serve hot.


  • There are numerous variations of Avial, reflecting the diverse culinary traditions of South India. Some versions include tamarind for a tangy flavor, while others use sour yogurt for a bit of tartness. Vegetables can be varied according to seasonality and personal preference, making Avial a versatile dish that can be customized to taste.

Cooking Tips & Tricks

To ensure the best flavor and texture in your Avial, use fresh, seasonal vegetables. Cutting the vegetables into uniform sizes ensures even cooking. Adding the coconut oil at the end of the cooking process helps retain its aroma and flavor. For a smoother gravy, blend the coconut mixture thoroughly. Lastly, simmering the dish on low heat allows the flavors to meld beautifully without overcooking the vegetables.

Serving Suggestions

Avial is traditionally served with rice, particularly in the South Indian states. It can also be enjoyed with roti or as a side dish with other Indian meals. For a complete meal, serve Avial alongside a protein source such as grilled fish or chicken for non-vegetarians, or lentil curry for vegetarians.

Cooking Techniques

The key technique in making Avial is slow-cooking the vegetables with the coconut and spice mixture to allow the flavors to infuse. The vegetables should be cooked just until tender to retain their texture. Adding the seasoned yogurt and coconut oil at the end and gently warming through helps to preserve the delicate flavors.

Ingredient Substitutions

For those who cannot consume dairy, coconut milk yogurt can be used as a substitute for plain yogurt. If some of the vegetables listed are not available, feel free to substitute with others like cucumber, eggplant, or zucchini. For a less spicy version, reduce the number of chilies.

Make Ahead Tips

Avial can be prepared a day in advance and refrigerated. This can actually enhance the flavors as the ingredients meld together overnight. Gently reheat on the stove or in the microwave before serving. Add a little water if the mixture seems too thick upon reheating.

Presentation Ideas

Serve Avial in a traditional clay pot or a colorful ceramic bowl to enhance its rustic appeal. Garnish with a few curry leaves or a sprinkle of grated coconut for an added touch of authenticity and visual appeal.

Pairing Recommendations

Avial pairs well with aromatic rice varieties like basmati or jasmine. For a refreshing complement to its rich flavors, serve with a cucumber raita or a simple salad dressed with lemon juice and salt.

Storage and Reheating Instructions

Store leftover Avial in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. To reheat, place it in a saucepan over low heat, adding a little water if necessary to prevent sticking. Stir gently until heated through.

Nutrition Information

Calories per serving

A serving of Avial is relatively low in calories, making it an excellent choice for those watching their calorie intake. On average, a serving contains about 150-200 calories, depending on the specific ingredients and their quantities.


A serving of Avial is a good source of carbohydrates, primarily from the vegetables and the ground coconut. The exact carbohydrate content can vary based on the specific vegetables used, but on average, a serving contains approximately 15-20 grams of carbohydrates. This makes it a suitable dish for those looking for a moderate-carb meal option.


The fats in Avial come mainly from the coconut and coconut oil used in the recipe. These are primarily saturated fats, which should be consumed in moderation. However, coconut also contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are metabolized differently and can have health benefits. A serving of Avial contains about 10-15 grams of fat.


While Avial is predominantly a vegetable-based dish, it does offer a modest amount of protein from the green peas and yogurt. The protein content can be increased by adding more peas or using Greek yogurt. On average, a serving of Avial provides about 5-7 grams of protein.

Vitamins and minerals

Avial is rich in vitamins and minerals, thanks to the variety of vegetables used. It is an excellent source of Vitamin A from carrots and squash, Vitamin C from bell peppers, and iron and potassium from green beans and plantains. The dish also provides calcium from the yogurt, making it a nutrient-dense meal option.


The primary allergens in Avial are dairy (from the yogurt) and coconut. Those with allergies to these ingredients should exercise caution. The dish is gluten-free, nut-free, and, if using dairy-free yogurt, can be made vegan.


Overall, Avial is a nutritious dish that offers a good balance of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, along with a rich array of vitamins and minerals. It is relatively low in calories and can be adapted to suit various dietary needs and preferences.


Avial is a classic South Indian dish that combines a variety of vegetables with coconut and spices, resulting in a nutritious and flavorful meal. Its versatility and rich nutritional profile make it a beloved recipe that can be adapted to suit different tastes and dietary needs. Whether served as part of a festive meal or enjoyed as a comforting everyday dish, Avial is a testament to the rich culinary heritage of South India.

How did I get this recipe?

I remember the thrill of stumbling upon this recipe for Avial. It was many years ago, during my travels in the beautiful state of Kerala in southern India. I had always been passionate about cooking and exploring different cuisines, so when I heard about this traditional dish that was a must-try in Kerala, I knew I had to learn how to make it.

I was wandering through a bustling market in Kochi, surrounded by the vibrant colors and enticing smells of fresh produce and spices. I came across a small stall where an elderly woman was cooking up a storm, her hands moving deftly as she prepared a delicious-smelling dish that caught my attention. Intrigued, I approached her and struck up a conversation.

She told me that she was making Avial, a traditional Kerala dish made with a medley of vegetables, coconut, and yogurt. She explained that Avial was a staple in Kerala households, often served during festive occasions and special events. Intrigued by her description, I asked her if she would be willing to share the recipe with me.

To my delight, the kind woman agreed and invited me to watch as she cooked. She showed me how to prepare the vegetables – drumsticks, carrots, beans, eggplant, and more – and how to grind the coconut into a fine paste. She taught me the importance of using fresh ingredients and how to balance the flavors of the dish with just the right amount of spices.

As I watched her cook, I was mesmerized by the way she moved around the kitchen with such ease and grace. Her hands seemed to work on autopilot, effortlessly combining ingredients and creating a dish that was not only delicious but also full of love and tradition.

After she finished cooking, she invited me to taste the Avial. With my first bite, I was transported to a world of flavors – the creamy coconut, the tangy yogurt, the subtle heat of the spices. It was a dish unlike anything I had ever tasted before, and I knew that I had to learn how to make it myself.

The kind woman wrote down the recipe for me, detailing each step and ingredient with care. She explained that Avial was a dish that could be customized to suit individual tastes, with different combinations of vegetables and spices. She encouraged me to experiment and make the dish my own, just as she had done over the years.

I returned home with the recipe for Avial tucked safely in my suitcase, eager to recreate the flavors of Kerala in my own kitchen. I gathered the ingredients – fresh vegetables, coconut, yogurt, and spices – and set to work, following the instructions I had been given with care.

As I cooked, I felt a sense of connection to the kind woman in the market in Kochi, to the traditions and flavors of Kerala. I thought about the stories behind the dish, the generations of women who had passed down the recipe through the ages, each adding their own twist and flair.

When I finally served the Avial to my family, their eyes lit up with delight. They marveled at the complex flavors and textures of the dish, savoring each bite with joy. I felt a sense of pride and accomplishment, knowing that I had successfully recreated a taste of Kerala in my own home.

Since that fateful day in the market in Kochi, Avial has become a beloved dish in my family. I have shared the recipe with friends and neighbors, passing on the traditions and flavors of Kerala to all who are willing to try it. And every time I make Avial, I am reminded of the kind woman who first taught me how to cook it, of the magical moment when I stumbled upon this recipe and knew that it would become a cherished part of my culinary repertoire.


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