Thursday, October 2, 2008

Vegetables in Coconut Milk / Avial / Valval

This is another of traditional Manglorean vegetable curry. Traditionally, valval was made in plentiful during the rainy season when the vegetables like ivy gourds and cowpeas beans or yardlong beans were in plenty. It also uses vegetables like ridge gourd, pumpkin (it is a must), ashgourd, potato, magge ( yellow, oval cucumber)...I guess it is also called Dosakai (they name it so at my local Indian grocery store.). You may also add carrot, peas, snappeas and normal or baby corn. The recipe uses coconut milk, which can be easily found in Indian or International grocery stores in the US, or can be prepared using the following recipe. Here is the recipe for valval.

1/2 cup cubed pumpkin
1/2 cup yardlong beans chopped into 1 inch long pieces
11/2 cups of mixed vegetable (choose from
ivy gourds, ridge gourd, ashgourd, potato, magge, carrot, peas, snappeas, corn(baby or normal))
2 cups coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds or jeera
2 pinches haldi or turmeric powder (to obtain the light yellow color)
1 teaspoon ghee or clarified butter
6-7 curry leaves
3 green chilies (thai chilies) or as per taste
pinch of asafoetida
salt for taste

The secret behind this dish or any other mixed vegetable is to cut the vegetables into almost equal pieces so that they cook evenly. Else you can cook all the vegetables separately. I usually cut the vegetables into inch to half inch long pieces.

I usually cook all the vegetables and when I switch off the heat, I add the ridge gourd pieces and cover the vessel. Ridge gourd cooks very fast and just the heat from the other cooked vegetables is sufficient to cook it.

The ridge gourd can be skinned or be used with the skin. I skin the ridge gourd and use the skin to make chutney. I never throw the ridge gourd skin as it contains lot of nutrients. I sometimes even leave the skin in the freezer if I am not using it immediately.
I skin the pumpkin, but in India we get pumpkin with a thin skin and we usually don't remove the skin. Same with the ash gourd. You need not skin the other vegetables.
Do not throw the water in which the vegetable are boiled. You can add this to the curry to get it to a desired consistency or use it as vegetable stock to flavor soups.
I cook all the vegetables together with around 1/4 teaspoon salt so that they are salted before adding them to the curry. But be careful when you salt the curry.


Cook all the vegetables till soft. Heat the coconut milk with slit green chilies. When the coconut milk is heated, add the vegetables and get the curry to a boil. This will facilitate all the vegetable flavors to be blended in the curry. In a seasoning pan, add ghee and heat it. When it heats up add mustard seeds and asafoetida. When the mustard seeds splutter, remove from heat and add cumin seeds, turmeric and curry leaves. Add this hot seasoning to the vegetables and cover the vessel with a lid.
The flavor of the seasoning will be absorbed by the curry. Serve the curry hot with rice.

Preparation time: 1 hour
Serves: 3-4