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Ishtu – Kerala Style Potato Stew

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.

Kerala style  vegan  stew  mad e with potatoes

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.

Kerala Style Potato Stew


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.

Kerala Style Potato Stew


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.

Kerala Style Potato Stew


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.

Kerala style vegan stew mad e with potatoes

Kerala style vegan stew mad e with potatoes

Potato Stew

By Syama
A creamy  and  aromatic  stew  made  with potatos.   This is a  popular   dish in Kerala  usually served  with appam . potato  
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Breakfast
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4 Servings


  • 2-3 Boiled Potatoes 3 Cups Chopped
  • 1 Medium Onion About 1C chopped
  • 1 Green Chili to Taste
  • 1/2 Inch Ginger Root Chopped
  • Few Curry Leaves
  • 1/4 Tsp Cardamom Seeds 1-2 Pods
  • 2 Cloves
  • 1 C Coconut Milk
  • 2 Tbsp Coconut Oil
  • 1/2 Tsp Salt or to Taste


  • Heat oil in a thick bottomed pan and add the cardamom seeds and cloves. Once the spices gets fried and become fragrant add the chopped onions, ginger, curry leaves and chili to it. Stir and saute for one minute.
  • Add 1/2 tsp salt and the onions cook till they are soft, stirring occasionally to prevent browning. Add the potatoes along with 1/2 cup water. Mash some of the potatoes with the back of the spoon. Let the mix cook for 5 minutes.
  • Stir in the coconut milk. Keep the heat low and let the stew come to a slow simmer. Keep it simmering for a few minutes on very low heat for the flavors to blend in. Add more coconut milk or water if the stew seems too thick. Do not let it come to a boil.
  • Turn off the heat and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Important: Nutrition Values are estimates. Actuals vary based on ingredients and serving size.

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Recipe Rating


Saturday 25th of February 2017

Ishtu is my favorite too. ?


Friday 3rd of March 2017