Indian Jamaican Stew (baby-friendly!)


Warning: Your house will smell incredible when making this dish.

I came across this recipe years ago when I was searching for vegan meals that didn’t suck, and even though we now eat meat it’s been a fall and winter staple ever since. Although it takes about 45 minutes to cook, the prep time is short–especially if you buy the butternut squash peeled and cubed–and clean up is quick. Leftovers taste even better as the flavors have time to meld. It’s definitely a winner in my book. It also happens to be vegan and gluten-free, so is a fabulous dish to put together for mixed diner company.  

To make future Tracy’s life easier, I like to fill up two or three small bell jars with the stew and freeze them. That way, Faye has a healthy meal when I don’t have any time or groceries in the house.

Indian Jamaican Stew

adapted from The Indian Vegetarian Gourmet

Time: 20 minutes to prep; 45 minutes to cook 

Makes 6 very generous bowls and 2 baby bowls


  • 3 ½ cups water
  • 3 cups rice
  • some salt


  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2” piece of ginger minced
  • 1 cup water
  • 29 oz can garbanzo beans
  • 28 oz kidney beans
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 2 lbs pre-peeled butternut squash cut into 2” or larger chunks
  • 2 tsps salt
  • 35 oz can peeled plum tomatoes
  • 14 oz can full fat coconut milk

First things first, measure out your rice into a medium or large mixing bowl and rinse a few times with water. Then, add the appropriate amount of cooking water to the rice and dump the entire thing into your rice steamer. Add salt and start your rice cooker cooking.

Grab your salad spinner. Rip off the end of the cilantro with your hands, rinse under water, and add to the colander of the salad spinner. Once again, rinse the cilantro with water. Fill the salad spinner with water and set the cilantro in the colander in the outer bowl to soak for a while. Set aside.

Get out a large pot and set on the stove. Add the 3 Tbsp of olive oil then put the oil away as you’re done with it. Grab the mixing bowl you used for the rice, give it a quick rinse, and zest your garlic and ginger into it. (Feel free to use a cutting board to mince if you don’t have a zester.)

Turn the heat on your pot to medium high. As soon as it is hot, add the ginger and garlic. Cook for a minute or two until fragrant and add the 1 tsp of red pepper flakes. Cook for one more minute. While that is cooking, open up your cans.

Lower your flame to its lowest setting. Using your mixing bowl, drop in one can of beans, rinse, drain, and add to the pot. Repeat this step with all the beans. Now add the juice of the peeled plum tomatoes to the pot. One by one, hold the tomatoes in your hand over the mixing bowl and cut into large chunks catching the juices as you go (or use a cutting board if you don’t find yourself to be so dexterous). Add the cut tomatoes and their juices to the pot. Add the coconut milk to the mixing bowl and stir until milk is uniform. Add to pot. Stir in salt. Raise heat to medium high. Stir in water and butternut squash.

Drain cilantro and rinse once more. Spin and check bottom of spinner for sand or other debris. If dirty, rinse and spin again. If all clear, transfer cilantro to a cutting board and chop into 1” pieces. Stir into pot.

Once mixture has come to a boil, reduce heat to low. Simmer until squash is cooked and liquid is thickened (about 45-60 minutes) stirring occasionally to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom. (Please do so lightly! The butternut squash is delicate and will break down if harshly mixed.) If mixture isn’t thickening fast enough for your liking, increase heat to medium-low and keep watch while it cooks making sure food doesn’t stick to the bottom.

Serve over rice or don’t. It is super filling and tasty both ways.  

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