Poriyal literally translates to something that is fried. Not deep fried, but sautéed or more like a stir-fry. Tempered with ingredients mustard seeds, curry leaves, etc; Vegetables are cooked till they are soft and tender; sprinkling water as and when needed. In Tamil Nadu cuisine, this is known as Poriyal. Like any other dish, this has also evolved and changed. I would roughly categorise poriyal into four major classifications. Vegetables with
This is my most favourite one. Fresh veggies and lentils, mixed with freshly grated coconut make for an amazing side dish. First, steam or boil the veggies with moong dal (split green gram) and keep them aside. Then, heat a pan, do the tempering, add the cooked veggie and finally sprinkle it with grated coconut and serve.
Poriyal with Kari podi / Chilli Powder
In this preparation, tempering is first done and in the same pan, the chopped veggies are added and cooked by sprinkling water as needed. Once they become soft, add kari podi and turn off the flame. You can also add freshly grated coconut at the end.
Both the method above differ in taste and texture significantly. The first one gives a light breezy salad feel whereas the second preparation is more like a stir-fry. The spice mixes coats evenly in the veggies if kari podi is added after the veggies are cooked. This brings out a completely different taste profile to the dish.
Roasted Veggies with Chilli Powder
This variety is entirely different from the other two mentioned above. We usually call this roast - Urulaikizhangu roast (Potato Roast), Seppankizhangu Roast The vegetables are roasted / shallow fried in oil and slightly spiced with red chilli powder. This pairs well with mild gravies like mor kuzhambu.
The fourth variety is a special one. Certain vegetables are either boiled or steamed and then mixed with a crumbled lentil mix. Beans, Cabbage, vazhaipoo (banana flower) are the commonly used vegetables. Check out the recipe of beans paruppu usili.
Now that we know that we have seen the varieties of poriyal, let's see how to make them.
Making a simple poriyal (the first two varieties) is a two part process - Tempering + Cooking Veggies
For Tempering, we need (For two cups of finely diced vegetables)
- 1 tablespoon Oil (little more if you use 2nd method )
- ½ teaspoon Mustard Seeds
- 1 teaspoon Urad Dahl
- 5-6 Curry leaves, torn
- ¼ teaspoon Asafoetida (skip if you are gluten intolerance)
Cooking Veggies & the rest:
- 2 Cups finely chopped Veggies (of course)
- 1 tablespoon Lentils - Moong Dahl & in some cases we also add channa dal.
- 2 tablespoon Freshly Grated Coconut
- 1-2 teaspoon Kari Podi / chiili powder (if using)
There are three different methods in which you can prepare these veggies. Personally, I prefer method 1 & 2.
Common Methods to prepare poriyal
- Steam the vegetables along with lentils - This takes about 7-8 minutes ( the time calculated after the water comes to a boil ). The veggies should not be smashed but they should be tender. You should not have the bite when you eat them. The vegetables are always fully cooked in Indian cooking. But the lentils can be soft to bite.
- Boil them separately in salted water. Bring water to a boil add the veggies and halfway through the process, add salt.
- In this method, you first add the tempering and then add the vegetables to the same pan & cook them. Sprinkle water, cover and cook until the veggies are soft. This is preferred when you go for the 2nd variety of poriyal with kari podi.
These are just guidelines to help you. There is no hard and fast rule, you can mix and match and play with your creativity and taste profile.
Variations / Suggestions / Notes
People with gluten intolerance/allergy can use the whole asafoetida if they can get one. It is commonly available in India. Usually wheat component is mixed in Asafoetida powder. So try to source wholly if you can, as it is one of the key flavouring agents in many South Indian dishes.