Know These 6 Coconut-Based Products And How To Use Them
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From being the creamy, delicious plant-based alternative for vegans, to enjoying a cooling fresh coconut on a hot day, the modest coconut is a multi-purpose ingredient with many derivatives that are used in a wide number of cooking applications. The nutty-sweet flavours of the coconut products work well to compliment both, savoury and sweet dishes. Culinary and nutritional benefits aside, the popularity of the coconut has risen gradually – making its by-products seem like a vast array to explore. We bring to you a curated list of coconut products and innovative ways to use them.

Coconut Oil

Unrefined coconut oil extracted from raw coconut flesh, is of a runny consistency, has a nutty flavour and aroma – that tastes great in its raw form as well as when used in cooking. Used liberally in South Indian cooking for savoury dishes like stews, stir fries and curries, unrefined coconut oil is also known to be good for the hair and skin. Ideally, using coconut oil for lower heat applications like baking and sautéing and even using in a salad dressing brings out its full flavour and potency.

Coconut Milk

Made by finely grinding coconut flesh with hot water and pressing the pulp through a strainer, fresh coconut milk is derived in two extracts – a thick first extract and a thinner second extract. These days, supermarkets have also begun to offer the option of coconut powders that can be mixed with water, to make coconut milk. If a recipe calls for coconut milk, it can be used in a number of ways where it forms the gravy-base for stews or curries, added to soups, braising vegetables or meat and even for sweet dishes where it can be used to make sauces, glazes, jams and more.

Coconut Water

The clear fluid inside coconut makes for a refreshing beverage on its own, but also makes for a great ingredient to use in cocktails, mocktails and beverages. The naturally sweet water pairs well with vodka or gin, giving the drink a much-needed tropical touch. Fresh coconut water can also be pureed with berries or seasonal fruit to make popsicles and sorbets that are sugar-free and the perfect healthy snack.

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The Versatility Of Coconut In South Indian Cooking

Coconut Flakes

Also known more commonly as desiccated coconut, coconut flakes are used plentifully in Indian sweet preparations like barfi and laddoo. Available in both, sweetened and unsweetened forms, desiccated coconut is the ideal ingredient to pick for a gluten-free breading on vegetables, fish or meat – when combined with rice flour. This dehydrated version of coconut not only adds texture, but also a mild nutty flavour that also works well as toppings for smoothie bowls, milkshakes and to use in cakes or pies.

Coconut Flour

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Made by finely grinding coconut flesh, coconut flour has a soft, fine texture that is rich in fibre and also gluten-free. Used most commonly for coating vegetables, meats and seafood before it is baked or deep-fried, coconut flour can also be used in doughs, batters or as a thickening agent – similar to regular flour or grain-based flours. Coconut flour can also be used for baking tea cakes, muffins and used as a filling in pies and pastries.

Coconut Sugar

Unlike other coconut-derived products that utilise the pulp or water, coconut sugar is extracted from the sap of the flower buds of the coconut palm. Although it does not have a pronounced coconut flavour, coconut sugar has a deep caramel and molasses-like taste. Known to be a healthy replacement for white sugar, coconut sugar produces drier results and hence, makes it perfect for chewy cookies, muffins, tea cakes and pie crusts.