Monday, March 5, 2012

Welcome To #Indianfoodpalooza! Come Cook With Us!

   About a month or so ago, my fellow food bloggers Barbara of Creative Culinary, Prerna, of Indian Simmer and I, started talking about getting people more interested in cooking Indian food. The first person who was interested was Barbara as she came into this whole project an Indian food virgin. We chatted on Skype (in itself quite the adventure, what with time zones and all) and decided that March would be Indian Food Month. We would throw an #Indianfoodpalooza and try to get as many people as we could, interested in making a foray into the world of Indian cuisine.
To make things super easy, each of us will be featuring a different dish on our websites for inspiration, plus we've got a whole bunch of links to some of our personal favorite Indian cooking sites and books.

   Indian food is as varied as the subcontinent it comes from, and once you look around, you'll find there's something for everyone. With the emphasis on healthy eating Indian food is ideal and when looking for those  Meatless Monday dishes, look no further. Indian food's got your back.

So without further ado, let me offer my contribution a great entree for any meatless meal, the classic South Indian Aviyal, or Vegetable Stew.

   There are no precise measurements or ingredients here which is what makes this dish so much fun, and so easy and economical. All one needs is a small amount of a variety of vegetables. Whatever is fresh and in season.

   The classic Aviyal almost always includes eggplant, plantain, ash gourd (zucchini) carrots, yam, potatoes, green beans, and green mango, but if you can't find these or you don't like them, don't worry. You can make this with whatever is around, parsnips, rutabagas, spinach, chard, cabbage, peas, bell peppers, whatever looks good. Just remember to vary your vegetables for crunch and texture. The goal here is for all of your vegetables to be cut so that they cook together. Below is my recipe.

Aviyal, Indian Vegetable Stew

Here's What You Need:

1 small eggplant
2 carrots peeled and sliced
2 grey zucchini sliced and halved
1 large boiling potato peeled and chopped
1 ripe plantain peeled and sliced
1 green mango peeled and sliced
2 cups of chopped green beans
1 yam peeled and chopped

2/3 cup of water or more if you need it
1 tsp of turmeric
8 fresh curry leaves if you have them
2/3 cup of grated fresh or dried unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup of plain yogurt
2 seeded green serrano chilies finely chopped
2 tsp of salt
3 Tbs of coconut or vegetable oil

Okay, here's something you might not have heard of: 
One component of this dish are Dal Badi, which are dried seasoned dal  (lentil) balls. 

This recipe calls for two pieces of badi. Bags of these are found at any Indian market, but if you can't find these add in their place:
  1 tsp ground coriander
  1 tsp ground cumin
  1/4 tsp cayenne
  1/4 tsp ground black pepper instead.

Here's What to Do: 

If you are using the dal badi, take two of them and hammer them into small bite size pieces.

In a large pan, deep skillet or kadhai, heat the coconut or vegetable oil.
When the oil is hot, toss in the dal badi pieces and stir them around for a few minutes until they turn a dark rosy color.

If you are using plain dal badi spices as a substitute, put them into the hot oil instead. Stir them around for about a minute.
Notice the change in pot. I cooked this dish in a clay pot and so here, I transferred the hot oil and badi pieces from the cast iron skillet to the clay.
Add in your chopped vegetables...

...the 1 tsp of turmeric and 2/3 cup of water, (you may need more, if so add it. There should be just enough water to put out steam to slowly cook everything not to soak it,)
Stir everything around and wait for the water to come to a boil.
When it does, turn the heat down to low, put a lid on things and let everything simmer together until the vegetables are fork tender.
Check it every now and then and give it a good turn so nothing is sticking or burning, but basically that's it!

   Depending on how good a job was done in cutting the vegetables relatively evenly, it could take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. I cooked the dish on a very low heat, slowly in clay and it took about an hour. The dish can then be set aside, or even made in advance and refrigerated overnight before.....

The Final Step:

In a small bowl mix together:
  1/2 cup of plain yogurt
  2/3 cup grated or shredded fresh  or dried unsweetened coconut (I was using fresh which I purchased frozen at a local Hispanic market for $1.50)

Mix this up well until it's smooth and creamy. then add in
  2 finely chopped seeded green serrano chilies.

Mix again and just before serving, add this blend to the heated vegetable stew.
Add the yogurt mix carefully so as to prevent the yogurt from curdling (not good, trust me)
Add in 2 tsp of salt.
Check for seasoning and serve it up.

This will serve between 6 to 8 people as an entree with sides. I served it with a South Indian Cashew Rice, (recipe to follow shortly)...

...fresh coconut curd, a buttermilk sambal, and parathas.

   So there it is, a totally meatless meal, and a way of using those orphan vegetables one has hanging around the kitchen like so many Dickensian scullery maids. Glorify them!

Back To #Indianfoodpalooza

Now it's your turn!! Come cook with us in the month of March! Learn the pleasures of the Indian table. Take the plunge!  Whether you've always cooked Indian food or don't know a dosa from a donut, everybody's welcome. The idea is to have some fun and learn a few new dishes.

To participate and be eligible to win all one has to do is this: 

  Post an Indian dish on your blog between March 5, 2012 and April 5, 2012.
   Link your dish up using the linking tool at the bottom of the post; only one entry per person
please. Entering your dish on any of our sites will have it display on all three
   Put a link in your post to this post so that your readers can join us too!

The hashtag for the event: #IndianFoodPalooza

We  also decided to offer prizes, since that always makes things more interesting. Prizes to be awarded include:

  Dried Coconut  (which I use nearly everyday) from Tropical Traditions for one of our readers that link up a recipe (We have three separate prizes from this company; each of us will be posting
something unique.)

 A set of Indian Spices ( from
My Spice Sage. Ten (4 oz) resealable bags. See website for full product information.
  J.K. Adams artisan maple cutting board from my Creative Culinary's Vino Luci ( store; a wine accessory and gift store.

   Prize winners will be chosen and winners notified April 5, 2012 using the email included on the link created. Winners will have until April 10, 2012 to respond with shipping information or another winner will be chosen.

Please note:  We want to encourage everyone to join us and share their experience but our
sponsors are shipping prizes directly and have requested that we limit the shipping area to the Continental USA.

Inspired? Ready to give this a whirl? The check these out:

Barbara at Creative Culinary is offering a Mumbai Sandwich
Prerna at Indiansimmer is featuring Jalebi

Here are more ideas for great Indian recipes:
  1. KO Rasoi by Sanjana
  2. Chef In You
  3. eCurry by Soma Rathore
  4. Journey Kitchen by Kulsum
  5. Cook In a Curry by Maunika Gowardhan
  6. Tongue Ticklers by Harini Prakash
  7. Lite Bite by Sanjeeta
  8. Veggie Belly by Sala Kanan
  9. Kothiyavunu which is a great source for Kerala recipes
  10. Sandhyas Kitchen
  11. Cookbooks by Suvir Saran and Madhur Jaffrey
If you need anymore inspiration we happened to see a wonderful movie set in an Indian restaurant, written by and starring Assif Mandvi of The Daily Show and co-starring Madhur Jaffrey
check it out. If this doesn't get you in the mood to cook/eat Indian nothing will.

 So get into the kitchen, rattle those pots, pans, woks, and kadhais and join us!!! Any questions, find me at Twitter @kathygori


  1. What a great idea to get more people interested in Indian cooking!! Love your recipe too. I do know about the wadi's and my FIL used to use them a lot in his cooking. It seems that you had a great meal.

    1. I love keeping wadi in my pantry they're great to have around!

  2. wow this sounds like so much fun,will sure join in ,happy cooking,..:-)

  3. Love it! I definitely am part of the loving EATING the food club! Especially your cooking!

  4. Wow, this is awesome. I love aviyal and this is one of the comfort food I crave for when I am back home after a vacation. I think the South Indian in me makes me love and appreciate them more and more as years have passed by. I think I am going to fix adai and aviyal for dinner tonight.

    1. I hope you join in the party! Cook a dish and post it!

  5. Gorgeous dish,especially when made in the clay pot!I can almost imagine the flavors merge together!Amazing :)

    1. Cooking in clay is so great! It really enhances all the flavors.

  6. Love the aviyal in the earthenware pot ....have been looking for one for a long time now. AWESOME !!

    1. They're Pomaireware clay pots get them at about 39 bucks!

  7. This is wonderful. My all time favorite dish.Your version is quite intriguing . I will soon send in my entry :-)

  8. Oh..I love that Thali with all Sambal, buttermilk and hot parathas..simple and healthy meal I could trade with any other exotic meal for. Thansk for the mention, Kathy, honored to be a part of this event. You rock!!

    1. I love my Indian dinnerware , Alan got it for me a few years ago ... I have enough for 10 people

  9. Kathy,
    You have totally inspired my husband and I! We'll be diving into this recipe very soon!

  10. I'm loving all these Indianfoodpalooza recipes! Will definitely try this one. Makes me kind of wish I had a blog to participate with all of you.

  11. What a great recipe and a great idea! I love Indian food and look forward to following the activity this month.

  12. #IndianFoodPalooza is fabulous, Kathy! I should be able to get everything I need for this dish over the weekend!

  13. It would be fun cooking with you guys :) This is awsm event and I know I will learn something new from here every month. Glad to participate.
    This dish is completely new to me and I would love to give it a try.

  14. Hi Kathy! I just posted my entry! I just wanted to let you know, that you guys have inspired me to start up my Indian Food Blog again! Thanks for hosting the #IndianFoodPalooza! Cheers! ~Katherine ("Bombay Blonde")

  15. Kathy, Your version of Aviyal looks delicious. It looks like a fusion to me with north Indian Wadi. However, in Kerala, we don't add any seasoning to Aviyal.Beauty of this dish is only midly spiced , only spices used is cumin and green chili. Tanginess should come from the yogurt/raw mango/ tamarind. Only seasoning a just a drop of coconut oil and curry leaves. Yummy dish.

  16. Great blog. I love Indian food. The spices and their aroma compels me to eat Indian food. Great varieties,amazing dishes and their speciality. Got no words to define how delicious Indian food is. What I like the most here is Indian vegetable stew. Looks yummy.



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