Malayali Chicken Ishtu or Stew is a beautiful, aromatic chicken dish from Kerala, usually eaten with fluffy appams, both an absolute treat. Appams have a delicious hint of sweetness and remind one of the best qualities of fresh bread and a perfect pancake and this particular Chicken Stew is a divine accompaniment. The stew is also fantastic with Malabar Parota, plain rotis, even rice, anything that can be used as a plate-to-mouth stew delivery system. We recently had them with delicious idiyappams, soft, steamed noodle cakes, made from a rice flour dough. By the end of the meal, there wasn’t a trace of stew or idiyappam remaining and the plates were practically licked clean.
This recipe comes from my wonderful mother-in-law, Lalita Nair.
Chicken Stew Kerala Style
1 kg chicken
3 medium onions, thinly siced
4-5 green chilies, slit
2 inch ginger, ground to a paste
2 pods garlic (about 20 small cloves), ground to a paste
½ tsp Turmeric
Salt, to taste
2-3 sprigs Curry leaves
2-3 Bay leaves
5-6 Black peppercorn
2 inch Cinnamon
2 cups Coconut Milk
1 cup Coconut Cream
Water if required
2 tbs Oil
Clean the chicken and cut into medium pieces. Marinate with salt, turmeric, half of the ginger paste and half of the garlic paste for 30 minutes.
Heat oil in a large wok. Add the whole spices – bay leaves, cloves, peppercorn, cinnamon and stir till fragrant. Add the sliced onions and sauté till translucent.
Add the remaining ginger and garlic paste, green chilies and 2 sprigs of curry leaves and stir all these aromatics till fragrant.
Add the marinated chicken along with all the marinade juices. Stir and cook till all the juices of the chicken are released and absorbed.
Add the coconut milk and some water if required to cover and cook the chicken. Add salt to taste. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Reduce to a medium heat, cover and cook for around 15-20 minutes till the chicken is done and there is a thin gravy. Stir every five minutes or so.
Once the chicken is cooked, add the coconut cream and heat through on a low flame, for about 2 minutes.
Garnish with curry leaves and serve with appams, idiyappam, malapar parota or rice.