Coconut enjoys a very special place in the Assamese household, … no auspicious occasion, from weddings to offerings before the almighty, to goodies prepared during Bihu (the most important cultural festival of Assam), is complete without it’s presence. The fresh coconut is usually used on all these occasions.
However,I am not familiar with coconut milk as an ingredient in cooking…have heard so much about it, and have also tried dishes including the ingredient, but personally, I’ve never used it…this time, I decided to give it a try. Getting coconut milk from a coconut requires some processing, but with the wonders of modern food processing around, I was able to pick a can off the shelves of the local supermarket the other day, and decided to give it a go… It, of course, had to wait for a while to be opened…old habits die hard… also happened to pick up some interesting information on this ingredient-
Coconut milk offers some particular health benefits. It is anti-carcinogenic, anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral. The main saturated fat that it contains, lauric acid, is also found in mother’s milk and has been shown to promote brain development and bone health. Some hope that coconut milk, with its powerful anti-viral properties, can one day be used in the fight against AIDS.(wisegeek)
Wow…that’s quite a lot going for the good old coconut…
A couple of days ago, I was readying peas and cauliflower to make my usual dish. At the nth hour, I decided to give the coconut milk a go and added it to the afore mentioned dish. It came out quite well, though I think I might reduce the amount a little bit in the future…the taste of the coconut milk was a bit overpowering… However, we had it as a side dish along with plain rice, dal and a fresh salad, and savoured with all these accompaniments, the dish did seem to blend in quite well. So here goes…
1 small cauliflower, cut into medium sized florets
1 C green peas
1 potato, chopped
100 ml coconut milk
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp garam masala powder
3 tblsp of cooking oil
a pinch of sugar
salt to taste
For the tempering-
1 whole red chilli
1 bay leaf
1 tsp cumin seeds
2-3 pods of cardamom
1 inch stick of cinnamon
Heat oil in a pan. Add all the ingredients for tempering.
When the seeds begin to splutter and the aroma from the oil begins to emanate, add the potatoes and stir fry for a minute. Add the cauliflower, season with salt and the sugar, and cook covered over low heat, stirring every now and then.
When the vegetables are slightly more than half cooked, add the turmeric and cumin powders, stir for a minute and add the coconut milk. Cover and simmer till the vegetables are completely done.
Add the garam masala powder , stir for a minute and remove from heat.