Last week when I was chatting with my sister, she mentioned that she was making aviyal for a potluck party with her friends. Aviyal as every South Indian knows contains yogurt and I immediately remembered a time when I would absolutely refuse to touch any dish that had yogurt in it! No amount of begging, beseeching or bullying by my amma would ever work!! In fact I used to make such a huge fuss about the ‘smell’ of yogurt that my amma was forced to reserve some aviyal for me before adding it. Yogurt to a Tamilian family is like bread to an American or dal to a North Indian!! ‘Yogurt rice’ or ‘thayir sadam’ is vital for the existence of any Tamilian. Imagine being a misfit in such an atmosphere!!! Everytime friends or relatives heard about this ‘failing’ in me, I used to receive every kind of look ranging from pity, wonder and censure!!!When I was a kid I used to enjoy all this attention and even went so far as to refuse to sit next to anyone eating yogurt but later in my adoloscent years,when I didn’t want my foibles to be exposed in public, this tactic sort of backfired. Then I would cringe the moment someone mentioned yogurt and try to summarily change the subject. Fortunately at least two of my uncles and cousins from my Dad’s family also have this aversion . It is like some genetic trait in the family:-))) So during weddings we used to cluster together during lunch and warn each other about the arrival of the server with aviyal, mor kuzhambu, morkootu etc(yogurt based dishes), in order to avoid its sudden descent on our plantain leaves.Strangely enough I love paneer, cheese and milk sweets(???).
Seriously guys,despite all the fuss I have a genuine aversion to the smell of yogurt:-(( My husband on the contrary is a staunch Tamilian (translates as loyal yogurt lover) he religiously ends every dinner with a little of ‘thayir sadam’. When we were newly married, I used to try and have minimal contact with yogurt(store bought or the home made ) and heartily ignore any dish that calls for this milk product. The past year I realized that my husband was missing out on all the yummy(atleast to him) dishes with yogurt.Finally I took pity on his enforced yogurt-less state and started incorporating yogurt in my cooking, but still in a ‘odourless’ form, starting with rava idly, bhindi do pyaza etc.!!! Anyways to cut my ramblings short, when my sister mentioned aviyal I had this craving to eat it and so asked her for the recipe. She made the recipe sound so simple that I was raring to go by the time she finished with it. So folks, I made aviyal and yes with yogurt. It came out so good that even I licked my plate clean to the last drop. ok, here goes the recipe:
one carrot, one potato, 5-10 beans, 5-10broad beans(avarakkai)——cut Length-wise
1/2 a packet of frozen drumsticks
1/2 a packet of frozen yam
1/4 cup of frozen broken beans (mochai kottai in tamil,avarakalu in Kannada)
1/2 cup of frozen or freshly grated coconut
1 tbspoon cumin seeds
2-3 green chillies
1/2 cup yogurt
salt to taste
Cut the carrot,potato,beans and the yam length-wise. Cook all the vegetables (xcept the yam) in a heavy bottomed vessel with a little salt and one cup of water. Boil the yam separately in some water and salt. Grind the coconut,cumin and the green chillies in the blender/mixer. Beat the yogurt and mix the ground coconut mixture to it.Once the veggies are cooked add the yam,some salt and the yogurt-coconut concoction to it. stir and turn down the heat to medium-low. Wait till the mixture starts boiling,turn off the stove. Season mustard in one tsp of oil in another kadai and add it to the aviyal.
veggies like raw plantain, taro roots, cluster beans could also be added
Over-boiling the yogurt-coconut-veggie mixture should be avoided since the yogurt sort of breaks with too much heat.