Anglo-Indian Stew

Anglo-Indian Ishtoo (Stew)

This is a bonafide Borthwick family recipe, a stew that was wolfed down with much enthusiasm. Anglo-Indian cooking is a unique and little-known tradition that evolved during the days of the British Raj in India. An era when English ‘sahibs’ had Indian butlers and cooks, the kitchen staff added regional touches to ‘English’ dishes, fortuitously creating one of the earliest fusion cuisines – an English menu elevated to new heights by injecting ingredients used in South Indian, Bengali, Goan and Mughlai cooking. This tradition continued in mixed race Anglo-Indian homes after the departure of the British in 1947.

The recipe is for a ‘brown stew’ – and can be made as a vegetarian dish without meat. Mutton can be substituted for chicken. Vegetables should be cut into medium pieces, cauliflower florets can be generously sized.

(I should also add that my mum-in-law prepared another version – an ‘Anglo-Indian White or Irish Stew’. which does not require the flour to be browned in butter. After the vegetables are cooked, dissolve a spoonful of flour (approx – the amount of flour depends on how thick you want the stew and the quantity of veggies) in a cup of whole milk and add to the boiling stew. Add a dash of butter for taste, and as always, check for salt. This stew tastes more like a creamy veg soup – called ‘white ishtoo’ on account of the addition of milk.)

2 cups cauliflower florets
2 medium carrots, chopped
1 cup french beans
2 potatoes quartered
2 sticks celery
1/2 cup green peas
1 large tomato
1 1/2 lb chopped chicken, with or without bone (optional)
1 soup cube (optional)
3 cloves
2 cardamoms
1″ cinnamon stick
2 tbsp flour
4 tbsp butter
2 cups water
1 can of light coconut milk
salt and pepper to taste

lemon juice
finely chopped cilantro
1 slit green chili
dash of Worcestershire sauce

A New Leaf

A New Leaf

To pair this original stew with another that is equally original, here’s Noel Borthwick’s ‘Dark Secrets Of Three Blind Mice’ performed live at one of my gigs.

Like it? Purchase the CD here

  • Brown flour lightly in butter, be sure not to let it get lumpy
  • Add cloves, cardamoms and cinnamon to the roux and stir briefly
  • Add chicken pieces (if using) and fry for 2-3 minutes
  • Add chopped tomato, vegetables and water, stir and bring to boil
  • Add salt, ground pepper and a soup cube (optional) if you are not adding chicken
  • Cover and cook on a slow fire for approximately 20 minutes, until the vegetables and meat are cooked
  • Stir in coconut milk
  • If the gravy is thin, add a spoonful of flour to some milk, stir well and add to the stew
  • Add lemon juice, cilantro and a whole slit green chilli
  • Serve with white rice and keep the Worcestershire sauce at hand for extra seasoning if needed

4 thoughts on “Ishtoo ~ Anglo-Indian Stew

  1. Chantelle Rodrigues

    My family is South Indian. My grandma made me this often when I lived with her. Oh how I miss her cooking. Best pepper water ever. Thank you so much for this recipe. I am going to give it a go and hopefully feel like she is sitting there with me when I eat it.

    1. Ramona Post author

      Hi Chantelle, that is so lovely – I do hope in some way my mum-in-law’s ‘ishtoo’ conjures up fond memories of your grandmum. I bet she made the BEST pepper water too. The evenings are turning a bit chill here in Boston, and I would love a cup, right now in fact 🙂

      1. Chantelle Rodrigues

        Thank you!!! I cried while eating this as i was so happy.
        Hope you are keeping warm in Boston.
        Grandma’s bday is in a few days. I will visit her site and tell her all about your stew.
        All the best from Perth!!

        1. Ramona Post author

          Yay! So glad they were tears of joy, ha ha! Best wishes and a hug to Grandma from me on her special day!

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