Lagan Sara Istoo

Parsi style wedding stew

When I was small, I always very intrigued by the word ‘istoo’. What it meant exactly I wasn’t sure as in my Mamaiji’s home there were several different kinds of ‘istoo’ – a chicken ‘istoo’, a vegetable ‘istoo’ or even a whatever-is-leftover ‘istoo’.

It took years for the tubelight to click and for me to realise that what Parsis mean by ‘istoo’ is actually the English word ‘stew’ which ofcourse encompasses a whole range of dishes and explains the several variations of istoo I had as a child.

In my last post I spoke about the #BawiSasu ni Kaju Chicken which is a new feather in my belt thanks to my mother-in-law. My love for the Lagan Sara Istoo is also thanks to her. In my new home the ‘Istoo’ is a khatu-mithu combination of my favourite (and arguably any Parsis’) favourite vegetables – potatoes, sweet potatoes, green peas and carrots. I looked up Katy Dalal’s recipe to see how close my in-laws recipe was to the original istoo made at weddings and it came remarkably close – we were only missing the raisins and dry fruits which are a welcome addition ofcourse.

So without further ado, here’s my version of the Lagan Sara Istoo – ingredients below as always.

Start with peeling the potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, yam and green peas (if you are using fresh ones). Once peeled, chop all of it into small pieces. While I make my istoo with only these vegetables, I know bawas who also add in french beans, double beans and lady fingers so if you would like to add those, go right ahead.

1. Vegetables Peeled

Chopped Vegetables for Lagan Sara Istoo

Next, in a small bowl soak the jaggery and raisins with the vinegar. If you don’t have jaggery at home, you can always just use sugar as well so don’t stress! Now would also be a good time to stone and chop the dates.

Soaking Raisins with Jaggery and vinegar for Lagan Sara Istoo

Finally, before you start finely chop the onions and tomatoes – I prefer doing this in my mixie and making a fine paste out of it since my father-in-law is an onion hater and must never find out that I add onions in everything…

Chopping onions and making the tomatoes a pulp

Once all of this is prepped, apply salt to the vegetables and deep fry them all one after the other – everything except the green peas. You want them to get a lightly golden colour after which you can drain out the oil in a colander. The reason we fry all the vegetables is so that they don’t turn into mush and retain their form when we make the ‘istoo’.

Frying Vegetables for Istoo

Draining out the oil from fried vegetables

Now, in a saucepan add some oil and the ginger-garlic paste. Add in all the spices, the salt and the jaggery. Once the jaggery has melted, add in the onion-tomato paste. Let this all fry for 3 – 5 minutes.

Frying the spices for Lagan Sara istoo

Add in all the fried vegetables along with the green peas, the soaked dates, raisins and the vinegar. Stir back and forth till the vegetables have absorbed all the flavour.

All the vegetables in the pot for the stew

Cover and let it simmer on low heat for 20 minutes. Since the dish doesn’t have any liquid in it, I recommend that you cover the saucepan and add 1/2 cup water on the lid. This will create steam and enable to vegetables to cook faster.

Cooked Istoo

 Top with finely chopped coriander and some more raisins.

To make enough for 6 – 8 people you will need:

3 each of carrots, medium potatoes and sweet potatoes peeled
1 small yam peeled (Suran)
200 gm green peas
1/4 cup vinegar
1/2 cup each of raisins and dates
1/2 cup jaggery
2 large onions
4 tomatoes
1/4 bunch coriander
2 tsp ginger-garlic paste
2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp red chilli powder
2 tsp pepper powder
1/2 tsp cardamom-nutmeg powder
Salt to taste
Oil for frying

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  1. says

    got here from Arzan’s post from FB, always loved parsi culture and being amdavadi, had a few friends too. This looks perfect for us cause we are vegetarians, will explore more of your recipes and try it. I also have blog, would love to extend the invitation to visit me too. Thanks

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