Ishtu ~ Kerala Vegetable Stew



While I posted the Idiyappam/ Noolputtu recipe couple of months ago, I had hinted that I would post the Ishtu recipe too. It was peaking from behind, so it didn’t make sense to delay this post indefinitely. Hehe… After all the combination of these two is quite a hit…


I always wonder why Ishtu is called so. I am sure it is the Malayalamized version of the English word “stew”. Can you see the connection? When umma would make this, I would always think that she is making fun of the name, but lately realized that she was saying its proper name. 😀 I guess we all would have thought of it that way some time in our life! Ishtu is basically a potato stew, made with minimal spices and coconut milk. It is very easy to make, but the spices added gives it such a delicious dimension.




Can I tell you a secret? I never liked umma’s ishtu. OK, she will kill me, hehe… Once, she asked me to make and I pulled out the recipe from Lakshmi Nair’s book and made it. After that, I am the Ishtu queen in the house! 😉 I have tweaked the recipe a little bit with time and now make it the same way I am posting today. The main star of this is truly the potatoes but I add some frozen green peas as well. You can add carrots, beans and cauliflower too, to make it more colorful!


Just like every curry, the Ishtu has its non-vegetarian counterparts too. You can make it with chicken or beef, but the potatoes have to be there! This stew is usually off white in color, but I have seen some sides adding turmeric powder and making it yellow, though I wouldn’t like it that way. The Ishtu is always served with noolputtu or with vellappams usually. I have not seen it served with anything else. But I feel it taste delicious with some hot porottas too… Just saying… 😉





5 from 5 votes

Ishtu ~ Malabar Vegetable Stew

Course Curry
Cuisine Malabar
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4
Author Rafeeda


  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp black peppercorn slightly crushed
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger paste
  • 1 large onion sliced thin/ 1/2 cup sliced pearl onions (cheriyulli)
  • 2 large potato peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup frozen green peas
  • 1 cup thin coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup thick coconut milk
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 sprig curry leaves


  • Heat coconut oil in a pressure cooker. Sizzle the whole spices.
  • Fry the ginger briefly.
  • Add the onion and saute till wilted.
  • Add in the potatoes, peas and thin coconut milk. Add salt and cook on high flame till one whistle.
  • Switch off and allow the pressure to go by itself.
  • Open the lid, keep flame on simmer. Add the thick coconut milk and garam masala and simmer just till warm. Switch off and add the curry leaves.
  • Serve hot with idiyappam or vellappam.


You can add other vegetables into the stew, like beans, carrot, cauliflower, etc. though I like to keep it limited to potatoes and green peas.

Join the Conversation

  1. Potatoes cooked in coconut milk and spices…must be very delicious and comforting!

    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      Thank you so much Angie…

  2. 5 stars
    This is a loving recipe, Rafeeda. Amma used to make it on days i have period pain..somehow it soothes and to date it works.

    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      Thank you so much Seema… never knew about that point…

  3. Nisha Ramesh says:

    5 stars
    This is such a comforting bowl. Quite simple and easy to prepare and it pairs well as a side with most of the dishes. Love this with rotis.

    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      Thank you so much Nisha…

  4. 5 stars
    Such a comfort recipe. Ishtu looks so delicious. Would love to have this with steam rice and I am sorted.

    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      Thank you so much Lata…

  5. 5 stars

    This stew looks reallly comforting and I guess I won’t be needing any side with it. Can have it warmed up as soup.

    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      Thank you so much Sapna…

  6. 5 stars
    This is so simple but full of flavours dish… I don’t cook much with coconut milk, but the recipe is tempting me to make some soon!!

    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      Thank you so much Swati…

  7. This looks so delicious, love the flavours of coconut milk, so I need to make it sometime.

    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      Thank you so much Jayasree…

  8. Ever since i learnt making ishtu from a malayali friend of mine, there has been no looking back. And it is so interesting how each family has their own style of cooking it 🙂 You made me crave appams and stew 😀

  9. Rafeeda AR Author says:

    Yes, it is made with little variation… Thank you so much Taruna…

  10. Yummy this recipe looks amazing

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