Vegetable Stew with Coconut Milk

Oil – 2 tbsp
Whole spices – Cinnamon – a long piece, green cardamom pods – 3, cloves – 3, bay leaves – 2
Curry leaves – a few
Onion – 1 small, finely chopped
Ginger – 2 tsp, chopped
Garlic – 2 small cloves, minced
Black pepper – 1/2 tsp, freshly cracked
Potatoes – 1 large, diced
Carrot – 1, diced
Green beans – 3-4, cut into 1 inch pieces
Green peas – 1/2 cup
Thin coconut milk – 1 1/2 cups
Salt – to taste
Thick coconut milk – 1/2 cup

You will need:
Heat oil in a large pan. Add the whole spices and curry leaves, and let them sputter. (You can crush the whole spices for more flavor, but my hubby hates finding cardamom seeds in his curry, so I leave it whole.)

Add the onions, ginger and garlic. Saute well till the onions turn soft and translucent. Do not brown them. Add cracked black pepper and mix well.

Add the vegetables, thin coconut milk and salt to taste. Cover and cook till the vegetables are soft, around 10 minutes.
Open the lid, check seasoning and add the thick coconut milk. Let it simmer for a couple more minutes or till heated through, but do not boil the stew after adding thick coconut milk.
A simple trick I learned from my mom, is to mash a couple of the potatoes cubes to add some thickness to the gravy.
Serve hot with bread or Indian breakfast breads like puttu, appam or idiyappam.

NOTES:
1. If using dried peas, soak them in water and pressure cook them first. If using fresh or frozen green peas, you can simply cook them along with the other vegetables.

2. If using canned coconut milk, open the can without shaking and skim off ½ cup of thick milk collected at the top to use as thick coconut milk. If using coconut powder, prepare thin and thick milks as per package instructions. But of course, nothing beats the real deal. Freshly squeezed coconut milk is always the best!

3. An easy variation of this recipe is to cook the vegetables in a little water and finish off with some heavy cream. While it looks the same, the flavor is different from that of the original recipe with coconut milk and of course, it will no longer be vegan. But this can be an easy substitution if you run out of coconut milk.

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