Looking back, I am amazed at how secure, unchanging and predictable my childhood world was. No wave big or small was allowed to disturb the routine of our days. Only after being a parent, did I realise how much my parents must have worked to make it that way.
Studies were of prime importance but it was not all work and no play! Come Friday and we would all troop into the theatre to see the new movie in town; come holidays and we were treated by Achan to the wonderful experiences from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. From Nepal, where I remember “Kanchi re Kanchi re…..” from Hare Rama Hare Krishna being sung again and again ,staying in a boathouse in Kashmir on Dal Lake, to Hyderabad in the sylvan surroundings of the grape gardens,looking with wonder at the Taj Mahal in Agra, and a hundred other pleasant memories crowd my mind.
Back home from the holidays; that evening would be a busy one for Amma and her willing little helper, my sister. I the dreamer and my brother, the baby of the family would be left to ourselves. An hour later, the heavenly aroma of Amma’s wonderful istoo would waft from the kitchen and we would soon have dinner with potato stew and bread. What better end to a marvellous vacation!
Potato Stew in Coconut Milk:
Istoo is the malayalee version of Stew. It is made with freshly extracted creamy coconut milk and subtly flavoured. It is eaten with Appam, Chapathi, Bread or Rice.
Serves: 4-5 Preparation Time-15 mins. CookTime-15 mins
- Potatoes – 3-medium-sized, cut into cubes
- Onion – 1-medium-sized, chopped
- Green Chillies – 3, slit
- Ginger – 1.5 inch, chopped finely
- Black Pepper Corn – 1/2 tsp, freshly ground (optional)
- *Thick Coconut Milk – 1 cup – first extract
- *Thin Coconut Milk – 2 cups – second extract
- Curry Leaves – 1 stalk
- Coconut Oil – 1 tsp (optional)
- Salt – to taste
- In a heavy-bottomed pan, combine potatoes, onion, green chillies, ginger, pepper, salt and the thin coconut milk
- Cook till the potatoes are very soft, but intact.
- Add thick coconut milk and curry leaves.In low heat,when it starts simmering,off the stove.Allow to stand,covered,4-5 min.before serving. Goes well with almost anything – Appam,Chappathi,Bread,Rice. .
- Another variation of this stew is the Mixed Vegetable Stew, which combines Potato with vegetables – carrot, beans, peas, cauliflower.
- To thicken the stew, either mash the potatoes or add a tsp of cornflour diluted in a tbsp of water to the stew.
- Add extra green chillies you like it spicier.
- To make the first extract (thick) of coconut milk, combine one cup of water to 1/2 a grated coconut. Blend it. Squeeze this mixture through a sieve. This is the first extract. To make the second extract, do the same with two cups of water.
Quick Snack: Combine one cup of thin beaten rice flakes (aval), half a cup of grated coconut, quarter to half cup of sugar (depending on your sweet tooth) and a sprinkling of milk. Mix it well. Keep aside for 10 mins. Your mouth-watering dish, a Kerala snack called Aval Nanachathu, is ready. Easy to prepare and tasty too. 🙂