If you have ever been on this website before, you know we love a good well-flavored stew, such as our Yellow Yam Stew, Lentil Stew, or Chickpea Stew. Most are Jamaican with Indian influences, but I’m so happy to present a traditional vegan Indian stew recipe.

I grew up enjoying coconut stew as a traditional feast during “Thanksgiving” in my South Indian childhood memories. 

In sweet nostalgia I looked forward to this hearty treat every year with fresh bread to dunk, from the local village bakery in Yercaud. There was always a special event tied to the coconut stew as I remember, and only more new ones to be created.

This creamy and pleasantly flavored stew brings back happy memories, as well as thoughts of when I will be making it again. 

Perhaps next, I’ll make it with dumplings. The kind aunty Dolly used to make…

I’ll tell you all about that sometime!

Coconut Stew

There are so many different cuisines that offer a wide variety of vegan-friendly dishes. Although you will find several such cuisines, one cuisine in particular that I found to be close to my heart is the South Indian cuisine, since it is what I am familiar with. 

One of the major ingredients in South Indian cuisine is coconut. It is not only because the ingredient is abundant in the region, but also because of its versatility. Coconut milk is especially a very important ingredient in the vegan world as well.

Coconut milk is an essential ingredient that substitutes dairy milk and other dairy products. Because it is plant-based, it is rich in nutrients, and still acts just like dairy milk. However, it is slightly sweet in taste, adds richness, creaminess, and thickness to any dish.

South Indians are already famous for their delicious, creamy, and flavorsome stews and curries; and because coconut is an integral ingredient, the flavors are next level!

What Is Coconut Stew?

Coconut stew is a delicious and delicate stew made from fresh coconut milk and vegetables. It is lightly spiced, subtle, and flavorful stew. The coconut stew is a south Indian dish and is quite a staple there.

Above all, it is easy to make, and 100% vegan and gluten-free. The dish is traditionally served on special occasions in the region; however, you can enjoy it whenever you want.

The best thing about this dish is that it focuses on the natural flavor of the vegetables and coconut. The spices are not overpowering and are used to bring out the natural flavor of the main ingredients.

Furthermore, the spices also make the dish fragrant. The only heat you get is from the green chilies. So, if you want to increase the spice level, you can adjust the number of green chilies according to your requirement or just leave them out.

Ingredients for Coconut stew

What Is In Coconut Stew?

Here is everything you need to make this delicious coconut stew:

Ø  Oil: Because it is a coconut stew, we are essentially going to use coconut oil for this dish. However, if you don’t have coconut oil available, you can use either olive oil or avocado oil.

Ø  Spices: Spices are the heart of any South Indian dish. Because this coconut stew is lightly spiced, we are going to use dry spices only. These spices include black peppercorn, bay leaf, cardamom pods, and clove. Furthermore, if you want to add more spices for aroma and flavor, you can also use mustard seeds and cumin.

Ø  Vegetable: This recipe is all about vegetables. They are the main highlight. So, apart from the onions, ginger, green chilies, and garlic, we are going to use potatoes and cauliflower. However, if you want to add in more flavor and color, you can also add carrots, peas, and green beans. Furthermore, broccoli goes well in coconut stew as well.

Also, if you don’t have green chilies, you can use jalapeno peppers. You can adjust the spice level according to your liking.

Ø  Coconut milk: Now, no coconut stew is complete without coconut milk. It is responsible for the subtle and rich flavor of the stew. Traditionally the recipe uses fresh coconut milk, but if you can’t find it, you can use canned coconut milk as well. Note that you can substitute coconut milk with any other plant-based milk. That’s because the heart and soul of this stew is coconut milk.

Coconut stew cooking in the pot

How To Make Coconut Stew?

Now making coconut stew is super easy. You don’t need extensive preparation or cooking. The whole process is easy and goes in a breeze. Here are a few steps you have to follow:

Step 1: first of all, you need to heat oil in a medium saucepan.

Step 2: Once the oil is hot enough, add dry spices and sauté until they become fragrant.

Step 3: Add on onions and sauté until they turn translucent.

Step 4: Add garlic, ginger, and green chili and cook for a minute or two.

Step 5: Add diced potato and cauliflower florets and mix well.

Step 6: Now add water and coconut milk and bring it to a boil. Once the mixture starts boiling, reduce the heat to let it simmer for about 20 minutes until the vegetables are soft.

Can You Make Coconut Stew In An Instant Pot?

The answer is yes. Thanks to the instant pot, you can cook almost anything in it within less time. So, if you are too tired to cook or are in a hurry, you can choose to cook coconut stew in an instant pot instead of a stovetop. Here are simple instructions on how to cook coconut stew in an instant pot:

  • Select sauté mode and heat oil. Add dry spices and cook them until they are fragrant.
  • Add onions and sauté. Then add garlic, ginger, and green chilies.
  • Once they are sauteed as well, add vegetables and stir.
  • Next, pour in water and seal the instant pot lid tightly.
  • Select pressure cooker mode and pressure cook for 3 minutes at high speed.
  • Quick-release the pressure and open the lid.
  • Switch to sauté mode and add coconut milk. Let it simmer for 3-5 minutes. The coconut stew is ready.

What to serve with coconut stew?

Because it’s a creamy, delicious, subtle stew, you can serve it with anything. If you are looking for some ideas, here are a few you will definitely like:

  • Indian sides: If you want to keep the Indian spirit alive, you can serve coconut stew with dosa, idli, or upma. Furthermore, it works well with Indian flatbread or poori as well.
  • Rice: Serve it with plain rice, garlic rice, or even coconut rice. The flavors will stay on point.
  • Noodles: You might think it is a mismatch, but you won’t know it until you try it! So, serve coconut stew with rice noodles. I’m sure you will love it!
  • Quinoa: The thing about Quinoa is that it gets along well with almost any ingredient. So, try it with coconut stew and bring in health and nutrition.
  • Dumplings: You can eat dumplings with broth or stew. They go perfectly well with such dishes. So, try it with your favorite vegan dumplings and enjoy the flavors.
  • Bread: Think about serving coconut stew in a bread bowl! It is pretty delicious and a unique way to enjoy it.

How To Store Coconut Stew?

Wondering what to do with leftover coconut stew? No problem at all. The reason why I really love coconut stew is that you can store it for a longer duration. Because coconut milk stays fresh for a longer time, any stew that has coconut in it will also stay fresh for longer as compared to any other dish with dairy products.

So, you can store coconut stew in an air-tight container and store it in the refrigerator for up to seven days. It means you can prepare the coconut stew in advance as well.

Furthermore, you can also store it in the freezer. This way, it will stay fresh for up to 2 months. And when you feel like eating it, simply thaw and reheat!

More Vegan Indian Recipes

Masoor Dal

Tofu Tikka Masala

Mango Juice

Baby Eggplant Coconut Curry

Turmeric Coconut Rice

Vegan Red Lentil Curry

Overlay coconut stew in a blue bowl on a brown background

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Nutrition

(Per serving)
  • Energy: 409 kcal / 1710 kJ
  • Fat: 28 g
  • Protein: 7 g
  • Carbs: 37.1 g

Cooking Time

  • Preparation: 10 min
  • Cooking: 30 min
  • Ready in: 40 min
  • For:
  • 2 servings

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. In a saucepan, heat oil over medium heat.
  2. Once the oil is hot, add black peppercorns, bay leaf, cardamom, and cloves.
  3. As they start releasing fragrance, add onions and sauté for about two minutes, or until they turn translucent.
  4. Add minced garlic, ginger, and green chili, and sauté for a minute.
  5. Add diced potatoes and cauliflower florets and mix well.
  6. Pour in water and coconut milk and bring the mixture to a boil.
  7. Once it starts boiling, reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 20 minutes until the vegetables are cooked thoroughly. Serve while hot.
Recipe author's Gravatar image

Ayesha Tharasingh

Hi! It’s Ayesha living and working in the Catskill mountains all the way from Madras, South India, by way of New York City.
I spend my time farming during the summer months and while the snow melts I work on my natural fiber tapestries and other yarn projects.
Some of the things I try not to brag about are my chocolate and small-batch ice cream making skills.
My favorite recipes traveled with me along with my love for Indian cooking and eating!