Ever wondered how you reach for the thing that speaks to that one spot in your heart or soul or more logically to the EQ of your brain ? Be it a bowl of ice cream or rasam, a favorite movie, a dog eared book, your favorite spot in the house overlooking the garden, you reach for that one cozy comfort place when your emotions hit a low- be it the weather gods playing snarly, or your mood gods deciding “blue” was your mood hue for the day.
In any case you tend to gravitate towards the one that fills your belly and soul and sort of reminds you of the comfort of your mom’s wisdom. Today was one such day! Cannot really put your finger on it, but it was a blah day sort of..I just wanted to cozy up and snuggle in the warmth of the comforters and watch a movie or drink a cup of chai or read a book or anything but get up drive and work or .. you get the picture. Passive aggression intentions apart, since none of it could actually materialize, even the spaghetti western I started with did not run through the session, and dinner was on the cards, I fell back to the one pot meal trick, and an eternal favorite in our house when we were grew up!
Here’s to soul food, mom’s wisdom and warm hugs 🙂
Comforting stew of vegetables in yoghurt base aka “Aviyal”
- 3 cups of mixed vegetables in total , cut 1- 1.5 inch lengthwise and boiled/ tender cooked with salt and turmeric –
- Melange of winter melon, yellow squash, cluster beans, string beans, french beans, raw banana, carrot, yams, drumsticks,chayote squash, tindora etc. ( I normally do not use okra, brinjals, onions in these. These also do not need tomatoes, onions or garlic, Satvic , I say !)
- Add these vegetables to boiling water with a pitch of salt and turmeric and cook till tender. The other option is for to pressure cook these . Just take care that vegetables do not turn mushy.
- Once cooked , strain the excess water ( using minimal water while cooking will prevent loss of nutrients ) and let the vegetables cool down a bit.
- 6-8 green chillies
- 2 inches of peeled ,chopped fresh ginger root
- 1/2 tsp of jeera
- 2 tbsp of fresh grated coconut or shredded frozen coconut
- 12 almonds ( In traditional cooking we do not use almonds. My family does not take too kindly to a lot of coconut hence the substitution 🙂 )
- Grind all of these to a nice thick paste with little water to ensure a nice smooth consistency.
- 3 -4 cups of thick fresh yogurt or curd is whipped into this ground mixture.
Final stage prep:
- In a bit saucepan or cooking pot, on low heat ( Important : please keep it on low heat . High heat will split the yoghurt and remember you do not have any besan or ground channa dal to prevent it!) add the fresh yoghurt – ground chili coconut mix to the boiled vegetables.
- Stir in gently and season salt to taste.
- I generally let this stew for another 5 – 7 min just to ensure the spices and yogurt mix is nicely coated and then turn the heat off.
- To add in a touch of authenticity , a dash of pure 100% edible coconut oil could be added. This stage is completely optional.
- There are a plethora of variations to this stew. Few people believe in adding curry leaves sautéed in coconut oil. Some add in a dash of tamarind to the ground masala mix to add in the tanginess. I prefer the natural tanginess of fresh yoghurt and personally do not subscribe to the sour version of it.
In any case, you cannot go wrong in any version..Make a big bowl, and indulge with a side of Paapad and hot steaming rice ! I did and did not regret it a bit..