Ishtu is a simple breakfast side dish. Vegetables and sometimes meat cooked in coconut milk and a few assorted spices. Mild and flavorful this is the side dish of choice to be served with assorted appams and other breakfast breads.
The recipe today is called Urulakizangu Ishtu or Potato Stew, the simplest all Ishtus. Hmm… is it me does Ishtu sound like something out of a Dr.Seuss book ? Well I digress ..
The easiest way to make this dish is in the Instapot/Pressure cooker . Just add all the ingredients to the pan with 1/2 to 1 c water, cook till the vegetables are done . Open the lid , add coconut milk to your taste , and serve !! Simple isn’t it ?
If you would prefer a more traditional route, cook the potato, onions, ginger and green chili in the thin coconut milk. Temper the spices in a little oil . Add thick coconut milk and tempered spices to the stew. Some even avoid the tempering and just a dd curry leaves and a little coconut oil in the end. If you must, the purist traditional way will involve grating fresh coconut and extracting the milk. But if that is not your cup of tea, use canned , powdered or frozen coconut milk.
This is how I make it – kind of a middle ground. I cook the potatoes separately – which I usually do in double batches or more. Use enough for the current recipe and the rest goes in the fridge to be made into a salad or chat or used in a hundred and one other ways.
I would recommend using coconut oil in this recipe, but if not available use any flavorless oil. Heat about 2 tablespoons of oil in a thick bottomed pan. I love my food to be fragrant so I do add the aromatic spices, not a lot, just enough to tickle the nostrils and lead everyone to to the table. Add the cardamom seeds and cloves ( you could also add a few fennel seeds and a cinnamon bark). When the fragrance of the spices fill the air add the chopped onions , ginger , chilies and curry leaves. Saute for a minute, sprinkle 1/2 tsp salt on top . The salt draws out the water from the onions preventing it from browning. Cook till the onions are soft.
Add the boiled potatoes along with 1/2 cup water. Mash some of the potatoes with the back of the spoon and let everything cook together for 5 minutes. If you were using fresh coconut milk, add the thin milk instead of the water.
Keep the heat on low and slowly stir in the coconut milk . Let it simmer for a few minutes to let the flavors blend. Keep the heat on low and do not let the stew come to a boil. Taste , adjust salt and turn off the heat.
Regardless of the cooking methods , it is a simple recipe. Don’t you agree ?
Serve with any of the South Indian breakfast breads and cakes. Our favorite, and what I would recommend is Appam.