Kerala ishtu

Authentic Kerala Potato ishtu /stew

Ishtu or stew as it is generally called is one such authentic dish from Kerala that leaves you longing for more. It is a very simple, but rich and creamy dish requiring minimal ingredients.

For us, ishtu always meant the one made with potatoes, though vegetable stew and meat stews are also very popular. Ishtu goes well with almost every South Indian breakfast dishes like idli, dosa, idiyappam, aapam and even with flatbreads.

It was always on our menu when we had guests at home. When it cooks the flavors that emanate will definitely make you salivate. I tend to lose count of the idlis or dosas when ishtu is the side dish 😀  .

The star of this recipe is coconut milk. The milk is squeezed out of the coconut 3 times, the first extract being very thick and the last one being very thin. Traditionally the veggies are cooked in the third extracted coconut milk, and then the other extracts are added at intervals.

But for lazy people like me, the traditional method works only when its some occasion or when there are guests. On busy days I just prefer to grind the coconut and add it to the stew. This is also a variety of stew, which some ingenious lazy cook must have invented 🙂  .

It tastes really good, but definitely cannot be compared with the one made with coconut milk. I have posted the recipe for that stew called idichu pizhinja stew (that’s how we call it). Will post chicken, mutton and vegetable stews later.

If you are for spicy curries, add enough green chillies to balance the sweetness of the coconut milk, else it may seem bland. I normally add 4 or 5 chillies, slit just in the middle as we don’t like too hot curries.

And if you are fond of coconut this is a must-try. I bet you will fall in love with it, like any Malayali.

Over to the recipe…

This is a creamy curry made with potatoes and coconut milk and is a very traditional Keralite dish.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: coconut milk
Servings: 4 people
Author: Hema Magesh
  • 3 medium-sized potatoes ( 500g)
  • 1 big onion(100g)
  • 4 green chillies(8 g)
  • 1 piece ginger (3g)
  • 1 cup grated coconut(100g)
  • cups water
  • 2 tsps coconut oil
  • few curry leaves
  • salt to taste
  • Pressure cook the potatoes. Slice the onion and ginger to thin longitudinal strips. Slit the chillies
  • Extract milk from the coconut. To extract the first milk add ½ cup of warm water and grind the coconut. Extract the milk using a strainer. Keep aside.
  • Next add 1 more cup of warm water to the squeezed coconut and strain the milk. This will be the second extract. Keep aside.
  • In a sauce pan add the sliced onions, ginger and green chillies. Pour two cups of water on the squeezed coconut and strain the third coconut milk directly into the sauce pan. Add salt as needed and cook for about 5 minutes.
    Ishtu preparation steps 5&6
  • Once the onion gets cooked, mash and add the cooked potatoes. As the mixture starts boiling add the second extracted coconut milk and cook for a few more minutes. You can add water here if you feel the ishtu is getting thick.
    Ishtu preparation steps 7&8
  • Simmer and add the first extracted coconut milk. Adjust salt and switch off just before it starts boiling.
  • Add the curry leaves and coconut oil. Serve with idli, dosa, idiappam, aapam, flatbreads or even plain rice.
    Ishtu preparation steps 9&10

Hema’s P.S

  • Some people prefer to saute the onion, ginger and green chillies in coconut oil before adding the third extract coconut milk or water. But this is how we do in our family.
  • Do not skip the curry leaves and coconut oil as that is what gives the stew its tempting flavour. Coconut oil is the most preferred oil for this recipe.
  • Potatoes are generally mashed roughly with the hand. It should not completely mashed.
  • 100g of grated coconut is equivalent to 1 cup loosely packed or half cup tightly packed.

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Check out my other Kerala recipes

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