Vegetable ishtu/Vegetable stew

vegetable ishtu featured image

Vegetable ishtu/Vegetable stew is a very delicious side dish for the Keralite breakfast dishes of appam and idiyappam or nool puttu. A very simple yet flavorful dish, and an absolute favourite of every Malayalee.

Among the vegetarian ishtu/stews the potato ishtu is more popular. But this one is equally good. Though everyone has their own recipe, the basic recipe remains the same.

For the authentic version, the vegetables are cooked in thin coconut milk and then thick coconut milk is added. You can follow my ishtu recipe, which I have already posted.

The only change will be adding all the vegetables other than potato to the thin coconut milk and cook.

veg ishtu with idiyappam

This is the other version, which I almost always follow. I learnt this from my m-i-l, adapted with a few changes that suited me.

We call it idichu pizhinja ishtu and I have not come across this term outside our family. So this could very well be a family recipe, best for lazy people like me 😀  .

What we do here is cook the vegetables in water and then add ground coconut to it. Then it should be called idichu pizhiyadha ishtu 😀  , as there is only grinding and no squeezing.

I am not sure why we call it that way. Anyways..One or two ladles of regular milk in the end before turning off is my addition, as it brings the ishtu together and adds to the flavour. You can add a bit of coconut milk too if you do not prefer adding milk.

I have made it this way umpteen times, and believe me so far none of my guests could find out that this is the cheat version of the original ishtu 😀  .

Some people prefer to add whole garam masala too for vegetable ishtu. You can if you want, but I do not add as I feel it loses the ishtu flavour and tastes more like vegetable kurma.

Do give this version and try and do come back to let me know if it worked for you.

Over to the recipe…

Vegetable ishtu/Vegetable stew
A delicious accompaniment to South Indian Appam and idiyappam made with vegetables and coconut.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
Course: Accompaniment, Side Dish
Cuisine: Indian, Keralite, South Indian
Keyword: Malabar vegetable stew, Nadan vegetable ishtu, Vegetable ishtu for appam and idiyappam
Servings: 4 people
Author: Hema Magesh
  • 1 medium-sized big onion(50g)
  • 5 green chillies (7g)
  • 1 piece ginger (7g)
  • 1 small carrot(85g)
  • 500 g potato
  • a handful of frozen green peas
  • a handful of coconut bits( 60-70g)
  • ½ cup milk(raw)
  • 2 tsps coconut oil
  • a few curry leaves
  • water as needed
  • salt as needed
  • Pressure cook the potato, peel and keep ready. Wash and keep the frozen peas ready.
    veg ishtu prep step 1
  • Chop the onion and ginger into thin strips. Julienne the vegetables and slit the green chillies.
  • In a pan take the sliced onion, ginger, chillies, and the vegetables. Add 2 cups water and salt as needed and cook them up.
    Vegetable ishtu prep step 2
  • Once they are done roughly mash and add the potatoes and the green peas. Cook for a few more minutes till it thickens and comes together.
    Vegetable ishtu prep step 3
  • Grind the coconut with water and add this to the stew and let it come to a nice boil. Simmer and add the milk.
  • Check for salt and turn off the stove when it reaches the desired consistency.
    Vegetable ishtu prep step 4
  • Finally drizzle the coconut oil and sprinkle the curry leaves. Serve with appam or idiyappam.
    veg ishtu prep step 5

Hema’s P.S

  • This is not a spicy curry, but if you prefer a spicy one you can add more chillies or grind up a few with the coconut.
  • I have added only carrot and peas apart from potato, but you can add other vegetables also like beans or even cabbage and cauliflower.
  • Since I have used frozen peas I add them with the potato, but if you are adding fresh peas cook it with the carrots. Dried peas need to be soaked and pressure cooked.
  • Even if you do not like coconut oil, do not skip adding it, as that is what gives the ishtu its flavour. 
  • In the same method you can make potato ishtu too, omitting the vegetables.

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