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Breakfast Recipe: Kerala Potato Ishtu

April 30, 2022 12:12 IST
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Ishtu, derived from the word stew, is a very popular curry served in Kerala.

There are many delightfully different ways to make Ishtu and several variations too.

While some like their Ishtu with lots of vegetables, the one my grandmother makes involves just potatoes, onion, ginger and coconut paste/milk.

You may also prepare Ishtu with mutton or chicken.

Ishtu is light on the tummy and usually served hot or warm. It goes well with idlis, dosas and appams.

How to make Kerala Ishtu

Photograph: Marlin Varghese

Kerala Potato Ishtu

Serves 3-4


  • 1 cup peeled, diced potatoes
  • 1 medium onion, finely sliced
  • 1-inch piece ginger, cut into thin, long strips
  • 3-4 green chillies, slit
  • 4-5 curry leaves, with the stem
  • 1½ cup grated coconut/coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • Salt to taste
  • 2-3 cups water + ½ cup water


  • In a pressure cooker, add the potatoes, onion, green chillies, ginger with salt and 2-3 cups of water ie just enough to cover the vegetables.
    Drizzle 1 tsp coconut oil on top and pressure cook for 2-3 whistles over medium heat.
    The cooking time depends on the size of the vegetables.
    For example, if the potatoes are cut into smaller cubes, it takes less time to cook.
  • Meanwhile, finely grind the coconut in a mixer.
    Add very little water.
  • After 10-15 minutes, open the pressure cooker.
    Reduce the heat and slowly add the coconut paste/milk.
    Gently crush the curry leaves and add to the curry.
    Mix well and check for salt and consistency.
    Add ½ cup more water if necessary.
    When bubbles surface on the edge of the curry take off heat.
    Make sure not to overcook the curry.
    Drizzle 1 tbsp coconut oil and cover the pressure cooker with the lid.
    Let it rest for some time so the flavours are well-combined.

Note: You may also add carrots, green peas, green beans and cauliflower along with or instead of potatoes to your ishtu.

If you are using coconut milk, please use the milk of freshly grated coconut for best results.

For a Jain version of Ishtu, skip the onions and substitute potatoes with other vegetables and ginger with ginger powder.

For a low-carb version of Ishtu, reduce the amount of potatoes and use other vegetables.

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