Ishtu or Eshtu is a traditional potato stew of Kerala, India. Mildly spicy this creamy stew is served with Appam, Idiappam(steamed rice noodles) or Bread Rolls. Kerala, the south western coastal state of India has many unique dishes that are relatively unknown outside the state. Being a land of coconut trees, coconuts are used in preparing many dishes, varying from appetizers to desserts, either in the form of grated coconut or coconut milk or coconut oil.
Ishtu finds an important place in the cuisine especially during occasions like weddings, get together, religious gatherings etc. Cooked potatoes are stewed in mildly spicy creamy coconut milk where the base is first prepared with onions, ginger garlic and other aromatic spices. Here I have added carrots and capsicum to make the stew multi coloured since I personally feel that it makes it much more appetizing than the plain white stew.
Before going to the recipe I would like to give few pointers.For retaining the white colour of stew I have used white onions instead of red ones. While sauteing the onions do not allow it to change colour, rather it should be cooked till it turns transparent. The potatoes should not be overcooked to a stage where they would be mashed to small pieces on adding it to the curry(sauce). Do not make the curry too thick before turning off the heat as it would become thicker when kept for some time. For making the stew multi coloured I have used carrots and green bell pepper as I personally favour the taste imparted by the pepper to any dish.Its optional. Also the use of coconut oil for cooking imparts a special and unique flavour to the dish.Well I guess you are now prepared to make traditional potato stew. Lets all enjoy Ishtu :)
Potatoes - 1.5
Small Carrots - 2 sliced to small strips
Green Bell Pepper(Capsicum)- 1 chopped
Big white onion - 1
Garlic cloves - 3 chopped
Ginger chopped - 1 tbsp
Cinnamon - 2(2" sticks)
Cloves - 6-7
Cardamom seeds - 1/4 tsp
Bay leaves - 2
Curry leaves - 3 sprigs
Green chillies - 3 split
Salt to taste
Ground pepper - 1/2 tsp(or more)
Thick coconut milk - 1 3/4 cups
Thin coconut milk - 1/2 cup
Coconut oil for cooking
- Peel off the skin of potatoes and chop into small cubes.
- Cook in a pressure cooker with enough salt and water. Keep aside.
- Cook the carrots in a microwave adding enough salt.
- Crush the cardamom seeds using a mortar and pestle and then add cloves and cinnamon and gently crush again to release the flavours. Keep aside.
- Crush the chopped ginger and garlic.
- Heat 1 tsp of coconut oil in a pan and add crushed cinnamon, cloves, cardamom along with bay leaves. Saute for few seconds.
- Add crushed ginger garlic and saute till raw smell goes.
- Add sliced onions and green chillies and saute till onions turn transparent.
- Add bell pepper and saute for few seconds.
- Add salt and pepper and mix well.
- Add the cooked potatoes along with water left after pressure cooking potatoes(if there is too much water left add little), cooked carrots and thin coconut milk.
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook for few minutes.
- Add thick coconut milk.
- Cook for few minutes more till the curry has attained a creamy consistency-neither watery nor thick.
- Add freshly torn curry leaves along with few drops of coconut oil, mix well and remove from heat.
- Serve hot with Appam/Idiappam/Bread rolls.
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