An ingredient which is loved for its creaminess and distinctive flavour, coconut milk has many spectacular dishes to its credit. Added into Thai curries, Burmese Khow Suey, or Indian cuisine's glistening fish and meat dishes like Mutton Stew, Chingri Malai Curry, Meen Moilee and the like, coconut milk is a power ingredient which can be used in many ways in the kitchen, including for vegan recipes as it is free of lactose.
How to Make Coconut Milk at Home
Since its flavour is subtle and mildly sweet, it makes the perfect base for curries and desserts as it readily blends in with other ingredients and spices. In South India particularly, it is an essential ingredient in the kitchen, and is most often extracted fresh at home. It's a simple process: all you need to do is take a medium-sized mature coconut, grate the flesh, and then blend it in the mixer using one cup of warm water. The strained liquid is what is known as the first extract, which is thick. You can repeat the process using the same grated coconut to strain the second and third extracts respectively, which are thinner in texture and more subtle in flavour. The thick milk is commonly used in making desserts, while the thinner milk is used in soups, curries, etc.
Tips for Cooking with Coconut Milk
A perfect substitute to dairy milk or cream, you can use coconut milk in the same way as dairy cream while making fish or meat-based dishes and decadent desserts to lend in richness. However, the thick coconut milk should not be boiled as it tends to curdle.
Health Benefits of Coconut Milk
Coconut milk is high in oil content - mainly saturated fats, but also comes with essential nutrients like iron, manganese, potassium, etc. which help in building the body's immunity. It is often touted as a healthy milk but experts usually recommend to consume smaller amounts of the full-fat version.
If you have been thinking of bringing home a can of coconut milk to cook with, then we have the perfect recipes for you to try and woo your family. Our list of 10 best coconut milk recipes is a roundup of popular Indian curries, Southeast Asian dishes as well as sinful creamy desserts - something for everyone. Try them and make the most of this vegan milk -
1. Chingri Malai Curry
Recipe by Chef Avijit Ghosh, The Oberoi
A popular Bengali dish, the fresh prawns are cooked in spices and coconut milk, and served with rice for a delicious meal. For the recipe, click here.
2. Khow Suey
Recipe by Chef Ajay Chopra
Explore this Burmese delicacy bursting with authentic flavours. Khow suey is a one-pot meal with noodles and veggies cooked in coconut milk and garnished with peanuts and fried garlic. For the recipe, click here.
3. Lentil Coconut Curry
Recipe by Chef Kunal Kapur
A simple curry made with tur dal, coconut milk and a handful of aromatic spices. Lip-smacking good! For the recipe, click here.
4. Meen Moilee with Steamed Rice
Recipe by Chef Manish Mehrotra
Kerala-style fish cooked in coconut curry, flavored with green chilli, curry leaves and turmeric. Serve hot with steamed rice for a wholesome meal. For the recipe, click here.
5. Korri Gassi
Recipe by Chef Mallikarjun,Taj Manjarun
A delectable Mangalore-style chicken curry cooked in coconut milk and tamarind. For the recipe, click here.
6. Coconut Milk Panna Cotta
Recipe by Chef Joey Mathew
This classic Italian dessert is made from gelatine, heavy cream, vanilla pods and coconut milk. Chill and serve with sliced mangoes. For the recipe, click here.
7. Kerala Mutton Stew
Recipe by Chef Andy
Succulent chunks of mutton simmered in delicate southern flavours of coconut milk, curry leaves, cinnamon etc. For the recipe, click here.
8. Bok Choy, Baby Corn and Leeks in a Coconut Emulsion
Recipe by Chef Vicky Ratnani
Herb infused and steamed leeks, baby corn and bok choy served with a coconut ginger emulsion. It makes for a simple and healthy lunch. For the recipe, click here.
9. Thai Chicken Curry
Recipe by Chef Andy with Suten Sin Koi
This is a classic Thai curry. Cooked in coconut milk and spices, the real essence of the chicken is brought out by the green curry paste. For the recipe, click here.
10. Coconut Custard with Berry Sauce
Recipe by Chef Roopa Gulati
A smooth coconut custard with a beautiful looking jamun sauce - it's hard to resist digging into. The jamun sauce has mild flavors of cardamom and rose water. For the recipe, click here.