Potato Stew (Kerala Style Recipe)

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This Kerala style Potato Stew is just ‘two’ good to be true! Yes, because you can have it in breakfast or as a main course and still would be craving for more. This gluten-free stew made with potatoes, coconut milk, shallots or pearl onions, some basic herbs and spices makes for an easy delectable stew that is comforting to another level. This, I can say from my experience itself, as having a steaming bowl of this stew with some Appams (Rice & Coconut Hoppers) or a plain, soft, Dosa, is truly delightful.

potato stew served in a blue rimmed ceramic bowl with some in a spoon and text layovers.

About This Potato Stew

Potato Stew is a delicious and comforting dish made with potatoes, coconut milk, shallots or pearl onions, and a blend of herbs and spices. It is one of the gems from the Kerala cuisine and can be enjoyed for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner.

The stew is spiced but not spicy with a light sweet taste of the coconut milk. The creamy texture of the coconut milk pairs perfectly with the potatoes.

It is often served with appams, but can also be enjoyed with other Indian breads and even rice. The stew is simple to prepare, making it a great option for both beginners and experienced cooks.

This recipe of Potato Stew is just that recipe which makes you go bonkers over it, because:

a) it is simple to prepare (even a beginner can make it!), with potato plus other basic everyday ingredients.

b) it still packs a punch of flavors in it, making it supremely delicious, and,

c) is both filling and comforting. Aren’t these enough a reason for you to try it right away?

If you have already tried my Veg Stew recipe, you really don’t have to think much about this Potato Stew, which is also a Kerala special. As the method of making this stew with potatoes is similar to the one made with mixed vegetables.

The flavors of the spices and curry leaves blend really well with the creaminess and sweetness of the coconut milk in this potato stew.

You can prepare this Potato Stew with fresh homemade Coconut Milk or even a store-bought one. If you have ready coconut milk, the procedure becomes even more simple.

For my family, I usually team this Potato Stew with some appams or ghee rice. A favorite version of the ghee rice is this Keralan Nei Choru. Try this too someday.

You can even pair the stew or ishtew as we call it, with Idiyappam, soft Dosa, Paratha, roti or Chapati, Cumin Rice or the humble steamed rice.

Which Potatoes For Stew?

For this recipe, the potatoes need to be cooked well but retain their shape. They should not crumble or fall apart.

Potatoes with less to medium starch are great to use in this recipe. These potatoes stay intact and whole after being cooked or may slightly break down when overcooked.

Some options you can consider are Yukon Gold, Red potatoes, Small Potatoes (Baby Potatoes), Purple Potatoes, New Potatoes and Fingerling Potatoes.

Step-by-Step Guide

How to make Potato Stew

1. Take 1 teaspoon whole black pepper and 2 cloves in a mortar-pestle. Crush coarsely. Set aside.

crushed black peppercorns and cloves in a mortar.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons coconut oil in a pan. Coconut oil is a must for the traditional flavors that this dish originally has.

But if you do not have it, use any neutral flavored oil like canola or sunflower or avocado.

heating coconut oil in a pan.

3. Add ½ cup thinly sliced pearl onions, shallots or onions and 1 small tej patta (Indian bay leaf).

You can skip tej patta if you want, but it gives a nice subtle aroma in the stew.

thinly sliced onions and bay leaf added to the hot coconut oil.

4. Next, add 1 inch julienned ginger, 1 slit green chili (optional) and 10 to 12 curry leaves.

Curry leaves are needed and cannot be skipped. If you do not have curry leaves, one alternative is use to dried curry leaves or add a bit of curry leaves powder.

julienned ginger and curry leaves added to the onions.

5. Also, add the crushed black pepper and cloves.

crushed black peppercorns and cloves added to the onions.

6. Sauté the onions until they soften and become translucent on low to medium-low heat. Do not brown them. You have to stir the onions at regular intervals till they soften.

sautéing onions with the rest of the ingredients.

7. Next, add 4 medium-sized (250 grams) peeled and chopped potatoes.

chopped potatoes added to the pan.

8. Mix the potatoes with the onions and spices.

potatoes mixed with onions and spices.

9. Now, add 2 cups water or thin coconut milk or lite coconut milk.

water added to the pan.

10. Season with salt as required.

adding salt to the pan.

11. Cover the pan with its lid and simmer on medium-low to medium heat till the potatoes are cooked through and tender.

Keep checking in between and stirring, while the potatoes are cooking.

simmering potato stew in the covered pan.

12. Simmer till the potatoes have softened. The potatoes need to be cooked well and fork tender, but not overcooked.

softened potatoes with onions and spices in a spoon.

13. Keep the heat to low and add 1 cup thick coconut milk.

thick coconut milk added to the potato stew.

14. Mix very well and gently heat through for a minute or two. Do not heat too much or boil as the coconut milk can curdle.

coconut milk stirred well in the potato stew.

15. Serve Potato Stew hot with appam, idiyappam, soft dosa or ghee rice. You can also have it steamed rice, cumin rice or with Indian flatbreads like roti and plain paratha.

potato stew served in a blue rimmed ceramic bowl with some in a spoon and text layovers.

Expert Tips

  1. You can use either pearl onions/shallots or regular onions. The tej patta can be skipped too. You can add a 2 to 3 small-sized peeled and lightly crushed garlic cloves if you prefer when you add the ginger.
  2. Throw in some green peas to add some color and more nutrients to the stew. You can also add carrots.
  3. If you have a low tolerance for spices like black pepper, then use about ½ teaspoon. Also skip the green chilli.
  4. Coconut oil is a must in this recipe for the authentic taste and flavour. However, if out of it, feel free to use any neutral tasting oil like sunflower, canola or avocado oil.
  5. Refrigerate the leftover stew and use it up in one day.
  6. After adding the coconut milk, you have to just stir it gently and heat through for 1 to 2 minutes. Not too much as then the coconut milk may curdle or separate.
  7. Want to make a larger batch of Potato Stew? Double or triple the quantities.

It’s ‘stew’pendous

Put some solid ingredients in a pot or pan, pour in some liquid, season it well and simmer these together to glory. The result? A one-pot wonder called stew, with smashing flavors and layered textures to satisfy your palate as well as soul. It is as simple as that!

As obvious from the above, traditional way of making a stew involves simmering it, and not boiling. This helps the flavors to mingle with each other, the most apt way.

The main ingredients that are used can be an array of vegetables or a single veggie, like this Potato Stew. Or it can even be meats, poultry, seafood, etc.

Salts, herbs, spices make for your seasonings and the liquid can be water, stock/broth and sometimes wine too.

Also, flavorings, like the coconut milk used in this Potato Stew recipe of mine or other ground spices, can also be added. Stews are primarily thicker. Thus, may be related to soups, but not the same.

The concept of a stew is quite ancient, as old as the Jomon period (14000 to 300 BCE) in Japan.

Some of the most famous stews of the world are the Irish Stew, Russian Stroganoff, French Bourguignon, Bosnian Pot, Jewish Cholent/Hamin and Hungarian Goulash.

Back in India, we have the Kerala Ishtew, Odisha Dalma, Andhra Pulusu, etc. Even the good ol’ South Indian Sambar is basically a type of stew only. Even this Potato Stew is one of the very humble versions that is my favorite.

More Potato Recipes To Try!

Please be sure to rate the recipe in the recipe card or leave a comment below if you have made it. For more vegetarian inspirations, Sign Up for my emails or follow me on Instagram, Youtube, Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter.

potato stew in a spoon on top of a bowl with it.

Potato Stew (Kerala Style Recipe)

This easy, delectable and comforting Kerala style Potato Stew or Ishtew is made with potatoes, coconut milk, shallots or pearl onions, and some basic herbs, spices. You can have it in breakfast with appam or dosa or as a lunch or dinner.
5 from 7 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Cuisine Kerala, South Indian
Course Breakfast, Main Course
Diet Gluten Free, Vegan
Difficulty Level Moderate
Servings 4
Units

Ingredients

  • 250 grams potatoes or 3 to 4 medium-size potatoes or 8 small potatoes, peeled, chopped or diced
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • ½ cup pearl onions – thinly sliced, or use shallots or onions
  • 1 tej patta (Indian bay leaf), small-sized, optional
  • 1 inch ginger – peeled & julienned
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns – crushed
  • 2 cloves – crushed
  • 1 green chilli – slit or sliced, optional
  • 1 sprig curry leaves or 10 to 12 curry leaves
  • 2 cups water or 2 cups thin coconut milk or lite coconut milk
  • 1 cup Coconut Milk (Thick) or canned coconut milk
  • salt as required

Instructions
 

  • Take 1 teaspoon whole black pepper and 2 cloves in a mortar-pestle. Crush coarsely. Keep aside.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons coconut oil in a pan.
  • Add ½ cup thinly sliced pearl onions or shallots or onions, 1 small tej patta, ginger juliennes, 10 to 12 curry leaves and 1 green chilli – slit (optional). 
  • Also add the crushed black pepper and cloves.
  • Sauté the onions on low to medium-low heat till they soften and turn translucent. Do not brown them.
    Remember to stir the onions at regular intervals till they become translucent.
  • Then add chopped potatoes and mix them with the onions and spices.
  • Now add 2 cups water or thin coconut milk. Season with salt as required.
  • Cover the pan with its lid and simmer on a medium-low to medium heat till the potatoes are cooked and are fork tender. In between do check and stir while the potatoes are cooking.
  • Simmer till the potatoes have softened. The potatoes need to be cooked well, but do not overcook the potatoes.
  • Keep the heat to a low and add 1 cup thick coconut milk.
  • Mix very well and gently heat through for a minute or two. Do not heat too much or else the coconut milk can separate.
  • Serve potato stew with appams, idiyappams, soft dosa or ghee rice or cumin rice. You can also have it with Indian flatbreads like roti or plain paratha or lachha paratha.
  • Refrigerate any leftover stew and use it up in one day.

Notes

  • You can opt to use either pearl onions or shallots or regular onions. You can also skip adding tej patta.
  • You can add water instead of thin coconut milk. If you do not prefer to add water, then mix and dilute canned thick coconut milk with some water. Mix about 1 cup of canned coconut milk with 1 cup of water.
  • Use Yukon Gold, Red potatoes, Small Potatoes (Baby Potatoes), Purple Potatoes, New Potatoes and Fingerling Potatoes to make this stew.
  • Add in some green peas for some color and more nutrition.
  • For a less spiced version, add about ½ teaspoon of black peppercorns. You can also skip the green chilli if you prefer.
  • Coconut oil is a must in this recipe for the authentic taste and flavor. However, if you do not have it, feel free to use any neutral tasting oil like sunflower, canola or avocado oil.
  • After adding the coconut milk, you have to just stir it gently and heat through for 1 to 2 minutes. Do not heat too much as then the coconut milk may curdle or separate. 
  • The recipe can be doubled or tripled for more servings.

Nutrition Info (Approximate Values)

Nutrition Facts
Potato Stew (Kerala Style Recipe)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 191 Calories from Fat 171
% Daily Value*
Fat 19g29%
Saturated Fat 17g106%
Sodium 343mg15%
Potassium 182mg5%
Carbohydrates 6g2%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 2g4%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 1mg67%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 1mg59%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 3mg15%
Vitamin B6 1mg50%
Vitamin C 9mg11%
Vitamin K 2µg2%
Calcium 25mg3%
Vitamin B9 (Folate) 43µg11%
Iron 2mg11%
Magnesium 32mg8%
Phosphorus 63mg6%
Zinc 1mg7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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This Potato Stew post from the blog archives first published on December 2016 has been updated and republished on October 2023.

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Meet Dassana

Welcome to Dassana's Veg Recipes. I share vegetarian recipes from India & around the World. Having been cooking for decades and with a professional background in cooking & baking, I help you to make your cooking journey easier with my tried and tested recipes showcased with step by step photos & plenty of tips & suggestions.

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