This recipe has got to be my tribute to all things Malayali that I was in touch with in Dubai – friends, colleagues, restaurants, servers, shawarma makers – and the wonderful food I was exposed to right from Onam sadya, to kurmas, 65s, biryanis, aviyal, ada-pradhaman, appams and veg stews. This is a simple, heart-warming, veg stew Mallu style to be shared with family and friends.
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced up small
1 cup of green beans
1 cup of cauliflower
I ran out of carrots and peas, otherwise, they make for the right company in this. I parboiled the veggies and kept them ready for the big dive.
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 inch stick of ginger, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 sprig of curry leaves
2 green chillies, slit lengthways
5-6 soaked almonds, slivered
Take a wide bottomed pan (no pun intended here) and put in two tablespoons of ghee or clarified butter. Many prefer using coconut oil but I didn’t have any and chances of getting anywhere slim, given the lock down; so ghee it is. Chuck in about 6 corns of pepper, 2 green cardamom ( I used the bigger cousin, since I was out of green ones) and a stick of cassia or cinnamon. Let them bathe well in the ghee, giving off the most wonderful aroma. To that add the onions, and when they turn translucent, add in the ginger and garlic, and the green chillies. Add in the curry leaves. Also, this is where I seasoned it with salt, keeping in mind, the water and coconut milk that would go in later. Keep stirring, as will the aroma to your spirit. I am not even going to attempt to describe it here, it is for to experience.
After about 5 minutes, add in the veggies-in-waiting. Get them to hug in the sweaty onions and other spices. The sight of the ghee coated, spiced up onions hugging the veggies will cover up for all the hugs you have been missing in the times of social distancing. Cook them (stir occasionally) for about 5 minutes with a lid on (the saucepan). Then I added in a big cup of water. I kept aside some hot vegetable stock when I parboiled them. Lid up and keep for about 4-5 minutes. But keep checking on them, like a mother hawk.
And finally, add in some glorious, fragrant, thick coconut milk. The joy of the white milk mixing in the buttery off-white gravy is something only cooks will know of. Mix it a bit, cover with the lid and let it simmer for another 5 minutes. In the meanwhile, check for salt. Add in a bit of cracked pepper, if you want. I finished it off with some fresh curry leaves and a sprig of corriander (since my cub wanted it). The stew has stewed.
Eat It Hot
Usual accompaniments of this musical are appams or Kerala porotta. But I opted for a light garlic bread, nicely toasted, instead. Worked like magic, when I dunked in the crunchy toast in the stew, chomped it along with the other veggies.