Pachakari Ishtew – Kerala Style Vegetable Stew

A subtly spiced, wholesome traditional stew from the southern most state of India, better known as God’s own country or gorgeous Kerala! This stew can be made using either vegetables, chicken or both and makes for a super Sunday breakfast with appams or idiappams.

A creamy, comforting stew that is both vegan & gluten free, it is prepared by simmering assorted vegetables in coconut milk, mildly flavoured with whole peppercorns & ginger, green chillies & curry leaves. What sets a stew apart from a kurma is the use of delicate, creamy coconut milk in a stew as compared to the use of a ground coconut paste in a kurma. Both go well with a Malabar parotta. Have you tried my recipe of Mutton Ularthiyathu?

Like most curries, this recipe too would have many versions, some without cardamom or with turmeric, but I’m sharing the authentic one that was taught to me by a dear friend’s mom, Padmakala Aunty, when she came visiting us from Cochin. Thus a tried & tested one popular with my family for years now.

Though most popularly paired with appams or South Indian pancakes with yeast-fermented batter, or idiappams(stringhoppers), today I have served it just as my son likes it, with steamed rice, for a quick lunch. The Tomato Saar is another great recipe for a quick meal alongwith french beans stir fry.

This recipe is for all my dear followers who requested for one pot meal ideas. What do you enjoy eating your stew with? Do you have any other tried & tested version? Do share your recipe with me. Would love to hear from you!

Recipe for Pachakari Ishtew – Kerala Style Vegetable Stew

Ingredients (Serves 4 – 5 persons)

  • 600 gms assorted vegetables, chopped into 1inch cubes
  • (carrot, potato, French beans, peas as per your taste)
  • 100 gms onions, cut in juliennes or chopped roughly
  • ½ teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, cut in juliennes
  • 3 green slit green chillies or as per your taste
  • 10-12 curry leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick of 1 inch
  • 2-3 cardamoms (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns, lightly crushed
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, or any other available cooking oil
  • Milk of 1 whole coconut extracted and kept aside as thick and thin milk (read notes) or
  • 250 gms of ready coconut milk extract (Dabur or any other good brand)
  • 1 tablespoon rice flour/corn flour mixed in water to form a smooth slurry
  • Salt to taste


  1. In a heavy bottom pan or kadhai, heat the coconut oil and add the whole spices namely, cinnamon, cardamom, peppercorns and stir till they sizzle.
  2. Add the slit green chillies, ginger & onion juliennes and curry leaves and saute for a few seconds until the onions turn soft and translucent.
  3. Add the vegetables, salt to taste, 1 cup of water and stir few seconds to mix well. Cover with a lid and cook on a medium flame until the vegetables are half cooked.
  4. Now add 2 cups of the thin coconut milk or the second milk extract and allow the vegetables to simmer in it on a low flame until they are fully cooked.
  5. Mix the rice flour paste into the thick coconut milk extract (to prevent it from curdling in the pan). Keeping a low flame, add this first pressed milk to your curry, stirring continuously for about 30 seconds and switch off the flame. Overcooking the coconut milk causes it to curdle.
  6. Serve hot with appams, idiappams, Malabar parotas or rice, just as your family likes it!

Notes with tips from my Grandma’s kitchen

  1. How to extract fresh coconut milk
    • Thick milk or first extract -Grate the white flesh of the coconut / cut pieces of the coconut, grind it in the blender/mixie with 1 cup of lukewarm water for about 30-40 seconds and strain it through a fine sieve, pressing down gently on the flesh so that a nice thick extract is obtained.
    • This is the thick or first extract of coconut milk which we will keep aside for the end of any curry or dessert recipe. It is never boiled.
    • For the second extract or thin milk, re run the same ground coconut through the blender with another 1.5 cups of water for 1 minute and press down & strain. Keep aside this milk in a separate pot.
  2. Usually, the thin coconut milk is added to any curry first, while the thick milk is added right at the end with a little rice flour slurry to prevent curdling. I always follow this tip and have successfully managed to prevent curdling.
  3. You can store freshly prepared coconut milk in the refrigerator for upto 3-4 days easily.
  4. When using store bought coconut milk, dilute it with 1 cup of water to reduce the creaminess.
  5. Control the spiciness of your stew by increasing or decreasing the green chillies to your taste.

2 thoughts on “Pachakari Ishtew – Kerala Style Vegetable Stew

    1. Thank you, do try it soon. It makes for an awesome winter time light meal both lunch or dinner. For a change, add chicken for that delightful flavour of stock! It was always very popular with my ex neighbours’, who looked forward to it !


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