Friday, 30 August 2019

Cheera Avial - Kerala Style Spinach Avial


Cheera avial - Kerala cheera avial prepared with green amaranth and vegetables - detailed explanation with photos and videos.

Cheera avial is a rare avial from Kerala. The red amarath is a very popular leafy vegetable of Kerala houses and we usually consume this in the form of stir fries. But red variety is not easily available to me here, so I am sharing an avial with green amaranth. I know green variety is not at a favourite of  many Keralites including me, but what to do I have no other choice. If available, try this avial with red amaranth also.

Cheera is the the native name of amaranth in Kerala. Due to its high fiber and vitamin content, this leafy vegetable is generally included in the daily menu. But making avial with cheera is a little bit tricky as a small trace of water can make the avial mushy and tasteless. In order to overcome that, you have to drain water completely from the spinach after washing it. Anyway, all vegetables releases moisture during cooking, this moisture content will be enough for cooking them.

The avial preparation method is different from region to region in Kerala. Most probably we use curd to introduce sourness to this dish. The sour giving component is must for this dish. Some people use curd as I said in my last post, sometimes, tamarind juice, mangoes and bilimbi etc. All these are equally tasty, but for this particular recipe, you cannot use the curd or tamarind juice because of the presence of amaranth. The presence of water content make the avial mush, but the other two options, mangoes and bilimbi is fine as it does not disturb the structure of avial. These sour ingredients should be incorporated to the avial only when the vegetables turn soft / cooked as it will retract the cooking process considerably.

This is my second recipe on onam special series - Ten avials in ten day series. Please check out my previous post the Vegetable avial in pressure cooker also. We had an old post on avial in this blog which explains cooking avial in a pan. Please do check those recipes also.
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Cheera avial recipe | How to make Kerala amaranth avial perfectly | How to make Alapuzha style spinach avial at home


An mixed vegetable side dish with amaranth and coconut
Preparation time: 40 minutes | Cooking time: 15 minutes | Total time: 55 minutes
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Ingredients


  • 1 medium bunch of green amaranth
  • 1 large tender drumstick
  • 1 medium size carrot
  • 1/4 of raw mango (or more depending on sourness)
  • 3/4 cup grated coconut
  • 5-6 shallots
  • 4-5 garlic cloves
  • 3-4 green chilies
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • Salt to taste
  • Water as needed
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 springs curry leaves
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Direction of preparation of Cheera avial


Preparation


1. Cleaning and chopping amaranth: This is the only time-consuming process in this recipe. Wash and clean amaranth in clean, cold water to remove any dust and dirt. Trim the roots and then pluck leaves along with the tender branches. Take the hard stem separately and then cut it into finger size pieces and set aside. Drain the leaves in a colander for some time till  all the water drained. Now take a few leaves, hold that tightly and then chop into very fine pieces as shown in the picture. Set aside.
2. Cleaning and chopping vegetables : Scrape and peel off the skin of the drumstick and carrots with a knife and cut into finger like pieces. Remove the skin of garlic and shallots and set aside. Peel the skin of mango and chop.
3. Grate half of a small coconut, finely and set aside.

Cooking method


  1. Take a thick bottomed pan. pour two tablespoons of oil and let it hot. 
  2. Once the oil turns hot, put the vegetables, drumstick, carrots and spinach stem. Saute for a few minutes till the veggies are half done. 
  3. Pour some water in order to keep the veggies moist throughout cooking. Add salt to your taste. Give nice stir.  
  4. Cover and half cook it. Do not cook the vegetables completely as we need them intact till the end.
  5.  Once the veggies became soft, put the chopped and drained amaranth and cook till they half done.  Before putting the amaranth or cheera, make sure that the water has evaporated. A small amount of water is OK, but if there is too much water present, do cook for a few more minutes. I will not suggest you to drain the water, as this stock is enriched with so many valuable nutrients. 
  6. Cover and cook for two to three minutes on medium flame till the amaranth turns soft. Now you can add mangoes and continue to cook till the mango, spinach and other veggies cooked completely.
  7. Meanwhile, prepare the coconut mixture. Crush shallots, green chilies, garlic and cumin seed in a mixer grinder.
  8. Put coconut and turmeric powder. Crush again. Do not put water and never make a fine paste, crush coarsely.
  9. Mix this with the vegetables. Then put a spring of curry leaf and cook covered on low flame till the raw smell of coconut vanishes.
  10. Finally, season with some coconut oil. Immediately switch off the flame and keep it covered in the same pan for ten to fifteen minutes before serving. 
  11. Serve hot with steamed rice and enjoy. 

Happy cooking                  
Anju                             















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