A friend of mine had once commented on a Bengali veggie medley (specially commissioned for her) that she had had at a friend’s wedding and told me that she was made to believe that this was the Bengali equivalent of an aviyal. I had loosely heard and experienced an aviyal on a few occasions but never understood how the absence of an induction fat (the first step in an aviyal is to cook the vegetables on a simmer) could create flavour.
How could it compare to the fragrances and flavours of a paanch mishali tarkari (mix of five veggies) carefully picked to impart sugars, starches and umami to a self sauced broth or perhaps a puree? It seemed like a really bad analogy. An aviyal after all, is definitely not self saucing because of the absence of overly starchy vegetables.
The Cooking Process
The blanching of vegetables is quick and must be done in salted water. The green vegetables should be further shocked in ice in order to set the chlorophyll.
Even then, the amalgamation step of the addition of coconut paste to the blanched vegetables being devoid of a fat inclusive browning or caramelisation almost confirms the lack of additional flavour creation.
The stewing process of the coconut paste with a souring agent such as tamarind or yogurt creates a textured mash with the dominant flavours being the sourness from the yogurt, the verdant freshness of the green vegetables infused into the sauce, flavour from the skin of the green chillis and more infused goodness from curry leaves. The absence of an initial roasting or a frying process makes it difficult to create a unifying sauce since what the