Onam, the most famous festival of Kerala is just around the corner. Thiruonam is on the 12th of September. Can a Malayalee (Keralite) think of Onasadhya without aviyal? This famous cooked vegetable ‘salad’ is supposed to have been invented by Bhima.
It is believed that the Pandavas spent a considerable time in Kerala during their year of hiding after the vanavasa (living in the forests) of 12 years. (See
If they were recognized during that period the cycle of vanavasa and hiding had to be repeated. They had to be very careful to remain incognito. While the other Pandavas were satisfied with living on fruits etc., Bhima’s appetite required more solid food.
One day in desperation, he gathered all the edible vegetables available, cut them up, put them in a vessel and poured some water into it. He added grated coconut, curry leaves, salt, turmeric etc and boiled the pot. He took it off the fire when the water had almost dried up. And, aviyal was born! Possibly it looked something like in the picture below:
Bhima loved it and so did the people during the millenniums that followed. I don't think anyone would dispute that aviyal is Kerala’s favorite vegetable dish.
One could possibly write the recipe for aviyal by looking at the photo. There are no hard and fast rules or rigid list of ingredients. The requirements are vegetables on hand, coconut, turmeric, curry leaves and salt. Add something for sourness if you like. May be a little coconut oil or coconut milk, before taking off the fire.
In short, aviyal is a dish that you blend to your taste with available inputs. Or, if you like, there are many recipes available on the Internet.
Aviyal is great, any time.
Photo by me from Olavipe. Copyright reserved. Click to enlarge.
Also see: Sadhya - a sumptuous Kerala meal