The simplicity of Vegetable Moilee, a creamy, colorful South Indian Kerala style stew with coconut milk and veggies, is what makes it so spectacular. Serve with rice for a sumptuous meal. A vegan, soy-free, nut-free and gluten-free recipe.
I don't know about you, but the very thought of colorful vegetables in a creamy stew makes my mouth water.
When I need to satisfy that craving, I cook up either my hearty vegetable stew, which is a one-pot meal, or this dish I adapted from a popular recipe for a fish stew made in the south Indian state of Kerala. A Vegetable Moilee.
I first shared this vegetable stew with you in the fledgling days of this blog. I've made almost no changes to it, because it was quite perfect as it was, but I'm reposting it with updated photos and with a video.
I've been a bit late to jump on the recipe video wagon mainly because I've been strapped for time. But I understand they can be immensely useful for some who learn visually. I was also eager to post longer form videos with commentary, because I like connecting with you and have no taste for those impersonal quickie videos that show a set of hands zipping through ingredients and processes.
But I also recognize that not everyone has the time to watch a five- or 10-minute video with all of the details and commentary, so I'm going to post on this blog, when possible, a shorter, quicker version of the video with subtitles. And I'll post longer videos with commentary on my newly created YouTube channel, which has all of six subscribers right now (please subscribe!). That way you have the option of watching whatever version you want to.
I am very new at this and still learning, so I would welcome all and any feedback. Please be thoughtful and constructive. 🙂
Tips and steps for cooking vegetable moilee
- A moilee (sometimes spelled "molly") is usually made with fish, and you'll find versions of it under the name "Meen Moilee" (meen=fish). But a vegan version can be just as tasty with a rainbow of veggies. Use a mix of veggies for the most texture and flavor.
- You can use frozen vegetables, which would make the moilee an even easier and quicker dish than it already is.
- I used potatoes, sweet potatoes, bell peppers and zucchini in my moilee. Green peas, mushrooms, spinach and winter squashes would all work just as well.
- Use coconut milk that comes out of a can, not a carton, for this dish. In other words, use full fat coconut milk.
- The coconut oil, in this stew as in many Kerala recipes, is not just the cooking medium--it's a flavoring agent. Be sure to use it because it will add amazing flavor.
- Besides the coconut oil there are just a few flavoring agents here--the curry leaves, the green chili peppers, onions and the ginger--but they will give you all you need to wake up your tastebuds. Use them all.
- Cook the veggies with half the coconut milk, so they absorb the flavors, and add the remaining half at the end of cooking. Once you add the coconut milk, just warm it through. That will ensure it does not split and your moilee looks as pretty as it tastes delicious.
- You need some acidity in the moilee, and I add a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice and a tomato for that. You can add two tomatoes. There are no strict rules of thumb here--let your tastebuds decide!
Watch how to make vegetable moilee
What to serve with the vegetable moilee
My favorite way to serve this moilee is with plain white rice. You can use brown rice, but I prefer white because the moilee's own flavors are so delicate, you don't want to pair it with something that has a robust flavor of its own.
You don't really need a vegetable side, but if you must, something like this Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas with Indian Spices would be a perfect complement, and it'd add more healthy protein to your meal.
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 onion (thinly sliced)
- 2-inch knob ginger (julienned or grated)
- 2 sprigs curry leaves
- 2 green chili peppers (like jalapeno or serrano, slit down the middle. Use more or less based on your heat tolerance)
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 2 small sweet potatoes (diced)
- 2 medium potatoes (diced)
- 1 medium zucchini (diced)
- 1 bell pepper (diced)
- 13.5 ounce coconut milk (from a can. Use the full-fat, not light, version)
- 1 to 2 medium tomatoes (diced. Cherry tomatoes are fine too)
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- Salt to taste
- 3 scallions (chopped. You can also use cilantro)
- If using vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes and carrots, precook them. I do this in a microwave by placing them in a microwave-safe bowl with a couple of tablespoons of water and zapping them for five minutes. You do not have to precook quick-cooking veggies like zucchini and bell peppers.
- Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add the onions, curry leaves, chilies, ginger and a pinch of salt and saute on medium-low heat until the onions turn translucent.
- Add the turmeric and the vegetables (except the tomatoes and scallions) and half the coconut milk with 1 cup of water or vegetable stock (use less water or stock for a thicker, creamier stew).
- Cover and cook about five minutes until the veggies are tender but have some texture and bite.
- Stir in the remaining coconut milk. Add the lemon juice and tomatoes. Let the moilee warm through but turn it off before it comes to a full boil. Stir in the scallions or cilantro.