A Mean Veggie Moilee

Lush palms, backwaters that snake eternally, and beautiful people – Kerala has got to be one of the most exquisite places I’ve ever been to, and just writing about it now fills me with a deep longing to return.

Growing up in Bombay, I had lots of Malayali friends. I ate like a glutton at their homes, gazed enviously at their long, luxuriant tresses, and listened wistfully when they told me about the time they spent back in their beautiful native land over the summer vacation. But it was only a couple of years ago, on a business trip and after moving to the United States, that I first visited this beautiful, vibrant land.

It took my breath away. It was all I had heard of and so much more. In the city of Cochin I discovered the rich history and throbbing heart of this state, as well as some of the most wonderful food I had eaten in a long time. The appams, the aviyals and the curries were to die for.

Walking around the market in Cochin packed chock-a-block with stores selling everything from books and jewelry to souvenirs and artifacts, I gazed most longingly at the spice stores, their wooden shelves lined with jars and jars of cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.

I returned to the United States with a few precious bagfuls and each time I hold some in my hand, I dream of the time when I will go back for more.

The dish I am about to share with you today, a vegetable moilee, draws a lot of its richness and sweetness from another signature Kerala ingredient, coconut milk. I adapted it from one of my oldest and most favorite cookbooks: Modern Cookery for Teaching and the Trade, by Thangam Philip, one of India’s most legendary cookbook authors and the former principal of the Institute for Hotel Management in Bombay. This book, recommended to me by a friend years and years ago, is a bit like an Indian Joy of Cooking and one I often refer to when I need a recipe I can trust will turn out great.

A Mean Veggie Moilee

1 tbsp canola oil

1 red onion, sliced thin

2 tbsp ginger, grated

2 sprigs curry leaves

2 green chilies, slit

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 13.5 ounce can of coconut milk

3 cups of chopped mixed vegetables (I used carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes and green peas)

2 medium tomatoes, diced

1/2 lemon or 2 tbsp lemon juice

Salt to taste

Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add the onions, curry leaves, chilies, ginger and a pinch of salt and cook on medium-low heat until the onions turn translucent.

Add the turmeric and mixed vegetables except peas and about 2 tbsp of the coconut milk with 1 cup of water. Cover and cook about 10-15 minutes until the veggies are tender.

Add half of the remaining coconut milk, the peas, the lemon juice and tomatoes.

Let the moilee come to a slow boil.

Add the remaining coconut milk and turn off the heat.

Serve hot with rice. I cooked a Tamil rice dish, Puliodarai to go with the moilee. The sweetness of the moilee and the tang of the Puliodarai were perfect together. The moilee, however, would also be great with some plain boiled white rice.

This moilee is my entry to RCI: Cuisine of Kerala, hosted by Jyothsna at Currybazaar. Thanks, Jyothsna, for letting me get in under the wire.

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

8 thoughts on “A Mean Veggie Moilee

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    January 29, 2008 at 9:24am

    wow, this looks also delish. like all your dishes, really. can I have dinner at your house one day? :-)

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    Lavanya Raj

    January 29, 2008 at 12:55pm

    your words are getting so deep into me. you explain things better and nice..keep writing more.

    from the images of dishes..you should be an excellent cook.

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    January 29, 2008 at 3:19pm

    Looks lovely. Sounds very similar to the Kerala stew we make.

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    January 29, 2008 at 7:03pm

    Anke- you are welcome any time :)

    Lavanya – you are very kind. Thanks for visiting my blog.

    TBC- Thanks! I have never had the stew, but I can imagine that coconut milk-with-veggies would be a theme found in other Kerala dishes- Aviyal too comes to mind.

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    January 29, 2008 at 7:07pm

    looks delish!!!! similar to veg stew…love them

  6. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    January 29, 2008 at 7:38pm

    Looks yummy and colorful.Thanks for sharing

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    February 27, 2014 at 7:39am

    I am a south African Indian, and just recently started experimenting with vegetarian lifestyle. My hubby came across your site and were hooked. You explain recipes extremely well and what I love most is that I have most of the ingredients in my kitchen :-) . Omanas potato curry is a big hit already and I’m sure the MobileMe will be too( it’s cooking as I’m writing you)
    Thanks for a lovely blog, regards Fatima

    • Permalink  ⋅ Reply


      February 27, 2014 at 7:11pm

      Hi Fatima, thanks for your kind words about the blog and recipes. I am so thrilled you liked the Omana’s curry– the credit for that recipe actually goes to my friend Sangita. Hope you will enjoy the moilee! Hugs. :)

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