Where potato meets coconut! I love this potato simmered in spices and coconut cream soup.. Just returned from visiting my childhood bestie and in no mood to cook! Having been spoilt by her amazing cooking I hesitated to step into my kitchen & get something going. Finally I could take it no more & today felt like a delicious potato soup. Here’s my take on my friend Suna’s recipe from the province of Kerala in south western india. Light with no oil and fragrant with coconut, yet hearty with potato, this soup is bound to meet all your needs on another cold winter’s day.
3 cups peeled and cubed red potatoes
3 1/2 cups water
4 tbsp coconut cream(see below for recipe)
1 tsp chopped fresh ginger
2 thai green chilies
½ cup red onion
8 curry leaves
1 tsp coconut oil(optional)
Pots n pans
• Wash, peel and cube potatoes. Set aside.
• Chop onions and ginger. Slit green chilies, set aside.
• In fry pan add onions, ginger, curry leaves and slit green chilies. Cover with ½ cup water & let cook.
• Coconut cream-Run 4 tbsp grated coconut(fresh or dessicated) in food processor about 30 seconds till it turns to coconut cream. Set aside. SOS If you have a can of coconut cream, you can skip this step & simply add quarter cup coconut cream.
• Add cubed potatoes and 3 cups water to pan and let come to another boil. Test potatoes with fork for doneness. They should be cooked, but still hold their shape.
• Add coconut cream to pan and salt to taste. Stir everything. Mash potatoes with back of wooden span to desired consistency. I like to serve this soup on the thicker side with chunks of potatoes that my guests can mash up in their soup bowls. Kids especially love to do this.
• Remove from fire. Pour heated coconut oil over soup if using.
• Garnish with carmelized nuts. I served it with some pull apart parmesan bread. Enjoy!!
The Malayalam speaking Muslims of northern Kerala, in the Malabar region are known as Moplahs. The name comes from the word Mapillai, meaning newlywed groom or son-in-law (both in Tamil and Malayalam). Their ancestry goes back to the Arabs who came to trade with Kerala, seduced by her pepper and spices not to mention coconut and its many byproducts. The trade had been going on for long, well before the birth of Prophet Muhammad and continued with the advent of Islam.
The local chieftains of Kerala welcomed traders from beyond the seas. Monsoons forced many sailors to stay back. Intermarriage with the local people followed. Eventually religious conversion happened.
In Kerala, the first mosque the first church and the first synagogue were built long before foreign invaders stepped into Indian soil for more riches!
The Moplahs continued to speak Malayalam, their mother tongue. They developed a unique cultural identity as they adopted local customs, even adopting the matrilinear joint family system familiar in many parts of Kerala. If you have never visited Kerala, I would highly recommend a visit. Lush, green and stunning, this province where I spent many childhood summers is a must see..
Rice was a staple and the Moplahs used coconut oil in cooking. However they brought their unique variations to food which came to be associated with the Moplah cuisine. Along with wheat chapatis they made a rice version called pathiri (the name is likely derived from Urdu/Hindi word pathli, meaning thin), wafer thin rice crepes cooked over a griddle and garnished with coconut milk. And they served this rice crepe with, you guessed right potato ishtu (as they colloquially referred to the stew). Hope you enjoyed this story as much as you are going to fall in love with this soup.