Sunday, September 28, 2014

No-Cook Aval - Sweet or Savory (Flattened Rice Snack Two Ways)

Aval (poha in Hindi), made from rice, is an extremely user-friendly staple; it is similar to oatmeal. Parcooked or steamed rice in its husk is pounded flat to make aval. Although one can cook with it, aval is eminently edible without any cooking!

Aval (poha) is an ubiquitous staple in a typical South Indian Home to be made into a number of quick and delicious recipes! It is very easy to prepare either sweet or savory dishes especially when it is hot and one does not want to venture anywhere near a stove for love or money :-).

Notes:  Check the aval for any foreign or discolored particles and discard them. Place in a bowl and cover with water; swirl with fingers quickly to get any husk pieces to emerge and float up. Pour out all the water along with the floaters. The drained aval is now ready to use in the recipes.

Fresh coconut is best for these recipes; but frozen is acceptable. If only dehydrated or dessicated coconut is available, add water and let it hydrate well for about 10 minutes or so before adding to your recipe. For the Sweet Aval, jaggery tastes the best; but brown sugar is an acceptable substitute.

Savory Aval

Ingredients for Savory Aval
Savory Aval: A quick and easy recipe especially great for tea time! For a simpler and quicker but no less delicious dish, I use a teaspoon or two of Sambar powder instead of  the toasted spices.

1 tsp Coriander Seeds
1/2 tsp Cumin Seeds
1 dried hot Red Chile
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
1 tsp Sugar
1 cup Thin Aval (poha)
1/2 cup grated Coconut, fresh or frozen
2 - 4 Shallots, OR 1/2 small Red Onion, finely chopped (optional)
1/4 cup fresh Cilantro, chopped
1/2 Lemon/Lime, juiced
1/2 cup cooked Indian brown Chick Peas (optional)
2 Tbsp roasted Peanuts
1/2 cup Indian Sev or another Indian snack mix (optional)

1 tsp Oil
1 big pinch Brown Mustard seeds
1 tsp Urad dal
1 tsp Chana dal (optional)
1 little pinch Asafetida (optional)
1-2 fresh green chile, minced
1 stem fresh Curry Leaves, sliced into chiffonade
1/2 tsp ground Turmeric

Place the washed aval in a large bowl (check notes above for cleaning/washing the aval/poha).

Toast the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, and the red chile in a small pan until fragrant and lightly browned. Cool and grind well with the salt and sugar; add to the aval.

Squeeze the lemon/lime juice over it and set aside while preparing the rest of the ingredients.

Prepare the thalippu/tadka: heat the oil with the mustard seeds and the dals; when mustard seeds pop, add chile and curry leaves and cook for a few seconds. Stir in the turmeric. Add to the aval.

Add the rest of the ingredients (except the nuts, sev or snack mix) to the bowl and mix well; let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Savory Aval may be made up to one or two days ahead. Check for seasonings before serving.

Serve at room temperature mixed/topped with the peanuts and snack mix.


There are two ways to make quick sweet aval:

1. Pal Aval: softened with hot milk (any type - almond, soy, cashew, etc), sweetened with jaggery or sugar, and served warm; a gluten-free milk-"toast"!

2. Sweet Aval without milk: Very similar to muesli. This recipe is simplicity itself! Just mix aval with coconut and jaggery; we often had this sweet aval (aka "nanacha" aval - literally moistened aval) as an after-school snack often as it is quite effortless to prepare it at short notice! Although Amma only used a very flavorful small banana available in Kerala, any ripe banana may be used. Other fresh/dried fruits or nuts may be added as well.

Serves 2 - 4

1 cup Thin Aval, washed as directed above
1/3 - 1/2 cup fresh grated Coconut
1 small ripe banana, diced (optional)
1 Tbsp Each - Cashew pieces and Raisins (optional)
3-4 Tbsp grated Jaggery or Brown Sugar
1/4 tsp Ground Cardamom

Mix together all the ingredients well; let rest for at least 15 minutes before serving. If made ahead, chill until needed. Serve at room temperature.  Enjoy!!

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