Ital stew is a vegetarian dish aligned with the Rastafarian movement, focusing on unprocessed foods and simple, delicate flavors. In the video above I spent the weekend cooking up a local Caribbean vegetarian stew with my friends – it was a fun 2-day project. The first day we collected all of the food items we would need and the second day, we cooked.
Much thanks to my honey, Habin, my dear friend Gail (the great chef), and my friends; Sherman, Yukari, Tyrone, Cana, Joshua, Leosha and Dey-Dey. In addition, thanks to Fontea’s Supermart and our local organic farmer, ‘Bro’.
There are no rules to making ital stew. You can use a variation of different vegetables, herbs and spices from your local farmers market. Some spices we love to use are sea salt (optional), cayenne, tumeric, curry, pimento, allspice, thyme, fresh garlic, ginger, bay leaves and coconut milk.
In a stockpot, warm coconut oil or the olive oil over medium heat, then add the onion. Sauté until translucent and softened, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, allspice and thyme and sauté until aromatic, about 1 minute.
Add the green onions, bay leaves, coconut milk and water. Bring to a simmer, then add the pumpkin and taro and cook for 5 minutes. Reduce heat if it turns into a boil. Add the potatoes and cook for another 3 minutes. Stir in the okra, plantain and carrots and cook for another 5 minutes.
Finally, remove the green onions (and any bay leaves and thyme sprigs), then add the collard greens; simmer until darkened and bright green, about 4 more minutes. At this point, all of the vegetables should be easily pierced with a fork.
Remove from heat and add the lime juice. Add salt and pepper to taste; stir in the cilantro and serve.
To give the stew more spice, add a Scotch bonnet or habanero pepper when adding the coconut milk and water and remove before serving. For more spice, burst the pepper in the stew before removing it.