Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Chicken Stew / Ishtu

For Easter and Christmas, our day starts with Stew/Ishtu for breakfast. Its such an unavoidable item for breakfast and when paired with Appam, they make a terrific combo. The rich, creamy stew combined with feather-like appams melt in your mouth and slowly glide through your food pipe tickling your taste buds at the right spots. They are mild, yet spicy (from the whole spices added) and tangy (from vinegar) all at the same time. The secret to good ishtu is that there should be a balance between all these flavours - mildness, tangy, spicy - none of the flavours should be overpowering.


Carrot - 1, washed, peeled and diced
Potato - 1, washed, peeled and diced
Cooked chicken pieces (fairly big pieces) - 2 cups (You can directly add uncooked pieces too)
Chicken stock (optional - left from cooking the chicken) - 1/2 cup
Whole spices
   Cardamom - 1
   Cinnamom - 2 inch piece, broken to smaller pieces
   Cloves - 4
   Whole black pepper - 5-6
Big onion - 1 medium
Green chilly - 1 or 2, as per your tolerance. I like to keep it mild, so add only one
Curry leaves - 1 sprig
Ginger - 1 inch pieces, julienned
Thick coconut milk - 1/2 cup
Thin coconut milk - 1 1/2 cups (it should not be too thin, something like semi-thick)
Coconut oil - 2 tbsp
Vinegar - 1 tbsp


1. Heat a kadai, add coconut oil.
2. Once hot (throughout cooking, it should be on low-medium heat), add the whole spices and wait till they splutter.
3. Add the diced onion and saute till they turn pink (take care not to saute for more time)
4. Add the julienned ginger and green chilly (slit), mix in
5. Add in the diced potatoes and carrots, stir well. Let them get cooked in the oil for a while (approx 3 min). Take care not to burn them, keep stirring).
6. Add in the chicken pieces (cooked or uncooked) along with the chicken stock. Add half cup water if chicken stock isn't available. If using uncooked chicken, you donot need any water as chicken will start releasing its juices. Cover and cook till carrots, chicken and potatoes are cooked well.
7. Once cooked (you should be able to smash the potatoes easily with the back of a spoon), add the semi-thick coconut milk. Mix well. Add salt. Smash some pieces of carrots and potatoes so that the sauce becomes thick. 
8. When the coconut milk starts to boil (do not allow to boil well), quickly add the thick coconut milk and immediately switch off the stove. Stir for a minute, to ensure coconut milk do not curdle.
9. Add vinegar, stir well. Serve hot with Appams

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