Vegetable moilee

Originally from Goa, the Moilee is an Indian curry made with fish, or any seafood and coconut milk. This simple dish made with vegetables and coconut milk, has been slightly adapted from Thangam Philip’s recipe book, Modern cookery for teaching and the trade.

Coconut oil is ideal for this dish but I used olive oil. I always add a teaspoon of ghee, which I make myself, as it adds that little twist of caramel like undertones. Add more chillies and ginger to stimulate your taste buds, and very often I add a teaspoon of freshly toasted and ground fennel seeds to the sautéed onions before adding the potatoes.

The first time I made this dish I measured everything and have included these weights as a guide. But cooking is about experimenting so just mix and match and maybe just add 2 carrots instead of 3, or broccoli instead of cauliflower, or cumin seed or coriander, less or more oil and so on.

Ingredients – serves 6

  • Onions finely sliced 200 gm
  • Potatoes diced 250 gm
  • Carrots diced 100 gm
  • Cauliflower florets 100 gm
  • Peas fresh or frozen 200 gm
  • 1 tin of tomatoes or 3-4 chopped fresh tomatoes
  • Fresh ginger ½ inch piece
  • Green chillies 4 – 5
  • Lemon or lime 1
  • Coconut milk 1 cup, or coconut milk powder
  • Turmeric ¼ teaspoon
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil 50 ml
  • Ghee – 1 teaspoon


Slice the onions and ginger and slit the green chillies lengthwise. Wash peel and dice the potatoes and carrots, separate the cauliflower into florets and shell the peas if using fresh ones. Prepare the coconut milk by dissolving 1 cup of powdered coconut milk with 2 cups of hot water.

Heat the oil and ghee and sauté the onions, ginger and green chillies until soft and transparent. Add turmeric and potatoes and fry for a few minutes and add 1 cup of the prepared coconut milk with an extra cup of hot water. Cook gently until the potatoes are a quarter done. Add the carrots, cauliflower, peas, tomatoes, the second cup of coconut milk and salt to taste. If it looks too thick then just add more hot water, just experiment until you can mix the ingredients easily. Cook gently until the vegetables are done and add the third cup of coconut milk and simmer. Add the lemon juice, taste, taste and taste and add more salt or lemon juice if needed, remove from fire and finally add the chopped coriander leaves and cover. Great served with rice, chappatis, pitta bread, quinoa or couscous.

The vegetable moilee showing how I slice my onions, ginger and slit green chillies