Vegetable stew aka ‘Ishtu’ is traditional Kerala style dish served with Appam. Minimal ingredients and the simplicity of the recipe is what wins you over. A delicately flavored stew where the spices do not over power the natural flavor of the vegetables. The addition of aromatic whole spices, ginger and fresh coconut milk enhance the natural flavor of the vegetables by leaps and bounds. The crucial ingredient is fresh coconut milk which lends a sweet flavor that is perfectly balanced with the spice of crushed peppercorns.
There are some subtle variations to the basic ‘ishtu’ recipe based on the regional preferences. Even the color of the stew varies from white to hues of turmeric yellow based on the ingredients that go into its making. One of the best Kerala style vegetarian recipes that is healthy, easy to make and outright delicious. And when paired with Appam, it makes for a filling and wholesome breakfast.
Kerala Vegetable Stew Recipe
- Onion - 1, finely sliced
- Carrot - 1, peeled and cubed
- Potato - 1, large, peeled and cubed
- French beans - 5, cut into 1" pieces
- Ginger - 1 tsp, grated
- Green chilies - 2-3, slit
- Curry leaves - a sprig
- Cinnamon stick - 1" stick
- Green cardamom - 2
- Cloves - 2
- Thin coconut milk - 1 1/4 cups
- Thick coconut milk - 3/4 cup
- Cashew nuts - 4, grind to a paste with few tbsps water (optional)
- Black pepercorns - 5-6, crushed
- Salt to taste
- Oil - 1 tbsp (or ghee)
- Heat oil or ghee in a heavy bottomed vessel. Add cardamoms, cloves and cinnamon and saute for a few seconds. Add sliced onions, grated ginger and green chillies and saute for 3 mts. Do not brown them.
- Add the cubed potatoes, carrots, french beans and salt. Saute for 4 mts. Add 1/2 cup water and cover and cook for 6 mts.
- Add the think coconut milk and continue to cook on low-medium flame till the vegetables are almost cooked. Mash a few potato cubes to thicken the gravy.
- Adjust salt, crushed black peppercorns, cashew nut paste, thick coconut milk and curry leaves. Simmer without lid for 3-4 mts and turn off flame.
- You can parboil the vegetables and reduce the quantity of thin coconut milk as well as cooking time while cooking the par boiled vegetables.
- Cashew nuts are purely optional. I have not used cashew nuts in the above recipe.
- Cauliflower and green peas can also be added.
- Ginger is essential for the stew. Do not omit it.
- Coconut oil is generally used to make the stew. I use olive oil.
Vegetable Stew recipe is a healthy, easy and quick to make dish among Kerala recipes.This vegetarian dish is served with Appam, Kerala style white pancakes.