This stew is often found on festive menus, served as a course on its own, or as the vegetable component of an everyday meal. The vegetables traditionally used are potatoes, sweet potatoes, elephant’s foot yams, carrots, peas, and sometimes cherry tomatoes in a sweet-and-sour base of melted onions and tomato, like a Latin American sofrito. Some versions include a banana, but not my mother’s. She stresses that the vegetables should be cut into cubes the size of a child’s fingernail.
The traditional method for making this stew is to fry the vegetables separately, but I prefer to roast them. Use a combination of any root vegetables you like, leave out the Parsi spicing, use olive oil, and take the dish into that vague Mediterranean category. Should you ever find an elephant’s foot yam (Amorphophallus spp.) at an Indian shop, it’s worth a try, especially if you don’t have to buy the whole elephant-foot-size article. (In India, vegetable sellers cut off just as much as you need.) In a Parsi meal, serve lagan nu istu with katles or kavabs; in a non-Parsi meal, with grilled or roasted chicken, along with an assertive green vegetable such as amaranth greens or kale. For a very simple lunch, just lagan nu istu with Chapatis and a little yogurt or Creamy Panir would be perfect. Or eat it with Everyday Dal with rice.
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