Kerala Vegetable Stew with Coconut Milk / Ishtew Recipe

Kerala Style Vegetable or Ishtew Recipe – A Traditional Recipe that is gluten free, vegan, made with mixed vegetables, an aromatic broth using Kerala’s finest spice blends and coconut milk.

Kerala Vegetable Stew with Coconut Milk / Ishtew Recipe

Are you looking for Indian recipes using coconut milk? If yes, you will love the recipe I am sharing today. Presenting, Traditional Kerala Vegetable Stew – A Mixed vegetarian Stew Recipe with coconut milk also popularly known as Ishtew. A heart warming, soul satisfying stew made with mixed vegetables, whole spices and coconut milk.

Vegetable Stew is one of the most popular traditional Kerala Breakfast recipe. It is served as breakfast (side dish) with Puttu, Idiyappam or Appams. It is also enjoyed with piping hot rice, Parottas or chapatis.

A bit of Vegetable Stew History!

Originally the Kerala Christians made the stew with chicken and some vegetables like potatoes and flavoured with all the spices popular in Kerala and thickened the gravy using coconut milk.

However, the Hindus adapted the same recipe and replaced the chicken with loads of vegetables like French beans, carrots, peas, potatoes and cauliflower.

Kerala might be a top notch tourist destination for the rest of the world but for us, there lies our roots. We hail from Palakkad and hence our cuisine is largely influenced by both Kerala and Tamil Nadu style cooking.

My parents have been born and brought up in Kerala and so is Narayan’s father. Kerala cuisine is largely based on fresh coconut, coconut oil and coconut milk. The ingredient is local and hence the diet is largely coconut based, including desserts.

Finding pure vegetarian food in Kerala can be quite difficult. However, there are few pockets where Kerala vegetarian food items are available and quite popular too. Some of the places strictly serve Kerala Brahmin food which has no onion no garlic too.

The Kerala Style Vegetable Stew

To make an authentic Kerala Style Vegetable Stew, you would need good quality coconut oil and freshly extracted coconut milk.

Kerala Vegetable Stew

Extract the coconut milk just before you are ready to cook, for best results.

The dish is very minimalistic. Apart from extracting fresh coconut milk, the recipe doesn’t take much time.

It is very basic, something you can sip on a cold winter morning or a rainy day. The use of whole spices like peppercorns, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon along with aromatic curry leaves further enunciate the broth.

Vegetable Stew Recipe

Some add garlic to the recipe whereas some skip as it gets a bit overpowering. I have skipped garlic and only added the pearl onions to the gravy. This is how we prefer at home. I recommend pearl onions for the authentic flavour and taste. Use white onions, if you cannot source the pearl onions.

Coconut Milk required for the recipe is made at home. The first extract is the thick coconut milk which is set aside to add later (to thicken the stew) and the subsequent 2nd extract is used to cook the vegetables in to infuse the coconut flavour.

However, if you are hardpressed for time, this can be made with store bought canned coconut milk too. Alternatively, the coconut milk powder that is sold in markets in small pouches can also be utilized for this recipe.

Personally, I absolutely love making stew during monsoons. The spices are warming and the vegetables make it hearty and wholesome.

Vegetable Stew Kerala Style

This stew is Vegan, Dairy Free and Gluten Free. Contains No Nuts.

Some Popular Traditional Kerala Style Recipes on the blog

Step by Step Kerala Vegetable Stew with Coconut Milk / Ishtew Recipe

Peel and finely slice the shallots or pearl onions. In case you don’t have the pearl onions, add the white ones instead of red as they have mild taste.

Grate the ginger and keep the curry leaves aside.

Kerala Vegetable Stew Recipe with Coconut Milk

Chop the vegetables, wash and drain them in a colander (potatoes into cubes, french beans into 1 inch length and carrots into thick cubes) along with peas.

Kerala Vegetable Stew Recipe with Coconut Milk

Heat a kadhai or a non stick pan and add coconut oil followed by the whole spices like pepper, bay leaf, star anise, cinnamon and cloves.

Kerala Vegetable Stew Recipe with Coconut Milk

Now add the onions and grated ginger. Saute this mixture for a few minutes until the onions turn translucent.

Kerala Vegetable Stew Recipe with Coconut Milk

Add the mixed vegetables, some water and salt. Close the pan with the lid and allow the vegetables to cook.

Kerala Vegetable Stew Recipe with Coconut Milk
Kerala Vegetable Stew Recipe with Coconut Milk

Once the vegetables have cooked (they should retain their texture and not turn mushy), add the thin coconut milk.

Stir well, add curry leaves and let it simmer for few seconds (without a lid).

Now add the ½ cup of thick coconut milk and stir the mixture well.

Kerala Vegetable Stew Recipe with Coconut Milk

After you add the thick extract, you should not cook the vegetables for long else it will split. So stir once and switch off the flame.

Serve the stew piping hot with idiappam or string hoppers, dosas, appam or even with chapatis or rotis.

Recipe Notes

  • If you are using readymade coconut milk, cook the vegetables in water and add the coconut milk directly towards the end. Let it cook for a couple of seconds and then switch off the flame.
  • Traditionally stew is cooked using coconut oil. However, if you find the aroma too strong, then use veg oil.

FAQ’S / Important Notes

What vegetables can I use for stew?

Don’t skip potatoes! Rest you can add vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, peppers, carrots, sugar snap peas, edamame beans too.

Can I add Turmeric powder in stew?

You can absolutely add it but traditionally the stew is white in colour. In case you wish to add turmeric powder, add it while cooking the vegetables with water.

Can I reheat Stew?

You can microwave the stew but don’t do it at a high temperature and for too long. The coconut milk tends to split.

Kerala Vegetable Stew

Kerala Vegetable Stew with Coconut Milk / Ishtew Recipe

Vidya Narayan
Vegetable Stew is one of the most popular traditional Kerala recipe made with mixed vegetables and coconut milk. It is served as breakfast (side dish) with Puttu, Idiyappam or Appams. It is also enjoyed with piping hot rice, Parottas or chapatis.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Course Breakfast, Side Dish
Cuisine Kerala, palakkad, South Indian
Servings 2 people

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup Mixed Vegetables (carrots, peas, French beans and potatoes) 1 cup is 200 ml (use a heaped cup of vegetables)
  • 1/4 cup Sliced Shallots (Madras Onions / Pearl Onions) Use White Onions in place of shallots
  • 1 cup Coconut Milk Check the instructions below on how to add the milk
  • 2 tsp Coconut Oil
  • 1 tsp Grated Ginger
  • 4-5 nos Cloves
  • 1/2 inch Cinnamon Stick
  • 1 no Bay leaf
  • 8 nos Black Peppercorns
  • 1 no Star Anise
  • Few curry leaves
  • 1/2 cup water to cook the vegetables
  • Salt to taste

Instructions
 

  • Prep the Vegetables (cubed potatoes, thick chunks of carrots, french beans cut into 1 inch length pieces) wash, drain and keep aside
  • Peel and finely slice the shallots or pearl onions. In case you don’t have the pearl onions,add the white ones instead of red as they have mild taste.
  • Heat a kadhai or a non stick pan and add coconut oil followed by the whole spices like pepper, bay leaf, star anise, cinnamon and cloves.
  • Now add the onions, curry leaves and grated ginger. Saute this mixture for a few minutes until the onions turn translucent.
  • Add the mixed vegetables, some water and salt. Close the pan with the lid and allow the vegetables to cook.
  • Once the vegetables have cooked (they should retain their texture and not turn mushy),add the thin coconut milk.
  • Stir well and let it simmer for few seconds (without a lid).
  • Now add the ½cup of thick coconut milk and stir the mixture well.
  • After you add the thick extract, you should not cook the vegetables for long else it will split. So stir once and switch off the flame.
  • Serve the stew piping hot with idiappam or string hoppers, dosas, appam or even with chapatis or rotis.

Notes

  • If you are using readymade coconut milk, cook the vegetables in water and add the coconut milk directly towards the end. Let it cook for a couple of seconds and then switch off the flame.
  • Traditionally stew is cooked using coconut oil. However, if you find the aroma too strong, then use veg oil.
Keyword coconut milk recipes, South Indian Breakfast Recipe, traditional kerala recipes, Vegetable stew recipe
Tried this recipe?Share your feedback @masalachilli_vidyanarayan or tag #masalachilli_vidyanarayan

This recipe was published in September 2018 and I have now updated the post with step by step pictures, photographs and added information.

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We will be back again with yet another exciting recipe .. Until then, stay healthy and happy!

Vidya Narayan

Views: 9569

Vidya Narayan

Hi Everyone, I am Vidya Narayan & Welcome to my blog MasalaChilli. Born in a Traditional Palakkad Iyer (South Indian) Family with strong value systems to an exceptionally strong and independent Single Mom, spent most of my childhood studying well (as most Iyer girls do).

This Post Has 56 Comments

  1. Debajyoti

    OMG! I am so gonna try this and post my version of the recipe, if that goes well! I will surely tag you in my post! I just love ishtew! 🙂

    1. Vidya Narayan

      So nice to hear that and I hope that your version turns out better than mine. Good luck!

  2. Abhinay

    Superb Vidya mam… Coconut milk is such an amazing ingredient – one of my super favorites – due to its quality of giving a satisfying feeling, a peaceful feeling – just can’t quote enough.

    Would love to taste this Stew made by you! Pictures are so tempting!

    1. Vidya Narayan

      Firstly Abhinay, thank you for stopping by on the blog and pouring such wonderful words. Means a lot and it would be a pleasure to host you someday. Make a plan to Mumbai soon and let me know. Cheers!

  3. I love the simplicity of stew, yet how hearty and flavourful it is. Your version looks delicious!
    Lovely pics too! 🙂

    1. Vidya Narayan

      Thank you Priya!

  4. Jyo

    Very pleasing curry with healthy ingredients….love this stew with appam?

    1. Vidya Narayan

      Thanks dear and I agree, this tastes best with appams.

    1. Vidya Narayan

      Thank you Deepti and I agree.

  5. I add only ginger to my stew, and very minimal spice – cinnamon and black pepper. 🙂 Definitely ishtu is what goes so well with appams and idiyappams, and my girls totally love it, though they do tell me to add the chicken into it, which I wouldn’t! I have always had ishtu with lots of potatoes… 🙂 Lovely clicks dear, and good to know your routes… 🙂

    1. Vidya Narayan

      Thanks dear Rafee and I was glad to make the traditional recipe of Kerala which many love and adore for breakfast. Time was short, else I would have gone all out to make the Appams too.

  6. Shobha Keshwani

    Perfectly made ishtew.. love it with appams and idiyappams. I loved your presentation and clicks Vidya. The chatti with handle is cute.

    1. Vidya Narayan

      Thanks a lot Shobhaji, this one is a classic dish and I was so glad I could make it. The chatti is coincidentally from Kerala too.

  7. I love the stew and it is one of my most favorite side dishes for Appams 🙂 Lovely presentation Vidya!

    1. Vidya Narayan

      Thank you so much and yes, appams with stew are a classic !

    1. Vidya Narayan

      Pavithra, you are just like me – I can just have this like a soup. Thanks dear.

  8. Kalyani

    love this with some homemade idiyappams ! yummy stew… I particularly add a little more than usual potatoes to this to give it a creamy thick consistency. The leftovers taste great even with hot chapatis.

    1. Vidya Narayan

      Absolutely true Kalyani and yes, potatoes with that creamy coconut sauce does taste delicious, especially for chapatis. Thanks dear.

  9. debanitaghosh

    This soup looks so divine. Your presentation is wonderful Vidya!

    1. Vidya Narayan

      Glad you liked the pictures and the presentation.

    1. Vidya Narayan

      Thanks so much and stews with loads of veggies make it all the more filling.

  10. Now this is one stew hubby will love n relish. Will taste great with appeals, iddiappam something he cannot resist . Must make it soon as he is getting bored with his “diet “. Thanks Vidya

    1. Vidya Narayan

      Ha ha.. Please relieve him soon of his diet and feed him this and many more of his favs. Thanks dear

  11. Priya

    one of my favourite dishes from Kerala, love to have it with idiyappam or aapam. The pictures also look really good

    1. Vidya Narayan

      Thanks Priya!

  12. Priya Suresh

    Its been a while i prepared ishtew at home, what a lovely medley of vegetables na, how delicious and inviting this stew looks. A prefect dish to serve with Idiyappams na..Seriously i couldnt stop myself drooling here.

    1. Vidya Narayan

      Make a batch soon Priya and pair it with your gorgeous breads, it would be as delicious as Appams or idiappams too.

  13. Sujata Roy

    Wow Vidya stew looks so inviting. Always love your presentation. I have learned to make a stew from my mom in law. Made it veg non veg both. But never used coconut milk. Bookmaking it to try soon.

    1. Vidya Narayan

      Kerala based stews are mostly coconut milk based. They impart the sweetness and aroma to the stews. Thanks so much and hope you like it.

  14. Renu

    This stew looks lipsmacking delicious. I am not a lover of coconut bases curries but the way you have made and clicked those pics, I just want to have some now.

    1. Vidya Narayan

      Renu, this is not a curry, its a Stew Dear. Stews are light and flavourful than the curries. Thanks so much dear.

  15. poornima

    It looks very yummy , I always love this mild creamy gravy with appam!

    1. Vidya Narayan

      Same here Poornima. Thanks

  16. mayurisjikoni

    Vidya, when the caterer suggested making appams and veg stew for my daughter’s wedding as something different for the guests to enjoy, I was a bit skeptical as I had not tasted either. He was kind enough to bring some home for me and I loved it. Since then have had veggie stew and appam about 4-5 times and also made it at home. What a wonderful share… a veggie stew. Looks so delicious and you’re tempting me to make it soon.

    1. Vidya Narayan

      Stew is something that can be enjoyed on its own during winters and I am glad you loved it. I can eat this with toasted bread too.

  17. Aruna

    I just add ginger and green chillies to my Ishtew. Most importantly I have to guard against my brother slurping the entire batch before lunch time. He is absolutely crazy about Ishtew.

    1. Vidya Narayan

      The simple stew minus the whole spices, like you mentioned is also great option. I like that with Adai and dosas actually.

  18. jayashreetrao

    The kerala stew goes well with neer dosa too. Yours looks delicious.

    1. Vidya Narayan

      Thank you.

    2. Vidya Narayan

      thanks

  19. Seema Doraiswamy Sriram

    Vidya, you really captured the name…istew. I can ever remember calling it stew and get so annoyed when someone calls it stew… I use to love plain potato one. yours looks lovely, i have to try this

    1. Vidya Narayan

      Haha.. Thanks, I guess for us Keralites, Ishtew is more preferred than stew any day. Thanks and glad you liked it.

  20. poonampagar

    The keraka style stew sounds so flavorful Vidya ! Love your props and presentation . It makes the dish look so appealing !

    1. Vidya Narayan

      Thank you so much Poonam

  21. Sujata Shukla

    Whenever I have visited Kerala or a Kerala restaurant, I have made a beeline for aapam with vegetable stew. Unfortunately for me, I have had very poor luck (or skills!) while trying to make the stew at home – I never get the rusty consistency and it usually turns out bland and boring. Thanks to your recipe I think I can make one more attempt at making a decent vegetable stew!

    1. Vidya Narayan

      Do try this, I hope people will start making a beeline outside your home for the best stew and appams next time. ha ha .. Thanks so much

  22. Indus

    It’s just mouth watering.. No joke..

    1. Vidya Narayan

      Thank you so much

  23. Ishtew looks so perfect Vidya ! Must be a good combo with appam / idiyappam.
    And yes, the clicks are wow dear .. Love this share 🙂

  24. Shobana Vijay

    Drooling and wonderful recipe.

    1. Vidya Narayan

      Thank you

  25. FoodTrails

    5 stars
    Ishtew!! recipe sounds so comforting Vidya!! I like the curry here.. mixed veggies cooked in coconut milk with very basic spices.. never tried this way.. definitely going to it soon.

    1. Vidya Narayan

      One of the most simplest recipes ever Swati and we grew up eating this.. Quite special for us. Thank you. Make this during fall / winter season with crusty sourdough bread.. fab combo.

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