Ethiopian Chef Marcus Samuelsson once said that “Coconut is one of those love-hate ingredients.” Many of us often think of Thai curry when we’ve got a can of coconut milk in the fridge—but the many South East Asian communities in Dubai have taught us that there’s so much more you can do with coconut. We speak with two of our Indian experts of the team, Farida Ahmed (@faridaa) and Noorin Ansari (@noogoopoo), to share how coconut is used as both an ingredient in traditional recipes as well as a modern day substitute for a lactose-free diet.

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Here’s the recipe for Noorin’s coconut yogurt breakfast pot that she mentioned on the show.

Noorin’s Coconut Yogurt Breakfast Pot

Prep time: 5 mins

Cooking time: 0 mins

Serves: 1

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup plain coconut yogurt (go for Greek yogurt if no intolerances)
  • ½ tsp of flaxseeds freshly crushed
  • ½ cup of any nuts of choice: roughly chopped almonds, pecan nuts, walnuts, or macadamia nuts (these are a healthier option compared to higher cholesterol nuts like cashews or pistachios)
  • 1 tbsp of nut butter in case you don’t prefer nuts
  • ½ cup fresh seasonal fruits or berries like blue berries or raspberries (both if you prefer)
  • 1 tbsp fruit compote made from fruits or berries (optional if you don’t have seasonal berries available)
  • 1 tsp date molasses or honey
  • Pinch of Himalayan salt or regular salt (optional)

Preparation:

  • Lightly beat yogurt in the bowl
  • Top with all the desired toppings: start with fruit or compote, sprinkle a pinch of salt on the fruit. Then add the nuts, drizzle the date molasses on top, garnish with crushed flaxseeds and devour.

 


 Not a fan of audio? Here’s the show transcript for you to read!

Arva: This show is brought to you by Dubai’s most gluttonous food tour company, Frying Pan Adventures, and you’re listening to ‘Deep Fried.’

Hey there! I’m your host Arva Ahmed and thanks for joining me on the show that’s inspired by flavors of the East. This podcast serves up the foods and stories that our team at Frying Pan Adventures loves sharing on our walking for tours through Old Dubai.

So talking about the flavors of the East this time, we’re going to be talking about all things coconut.

Now, to be honest, I have had a pretty mixed relationship with coconut. It’s like the Ethiopian chef Marcus Samuelsson said “Coconut is one of those love-hate ingredients.” And for the most part, I grew up not particularly head-over-heels in love with sweet coconut treats, sorry to all the Bounty fans out there.

But over time, it’s a distinct, sweet, nutty flavor that I’ve come to appreciate in some dishes. There’s almost always a can of coconut milk in my pantry and sometimes you’ll even find a tub of desiccated coconut in my fridge. But other than the same two or three dishes, like a Thai curry or stir-fried coconut beans, I don’t really feel like the coconut and I have truly connected in my kitchen.

So I’m going to correct that today with two fantastic cooks and food tour guides on our team who are both from one of those parts of the world that uses coconut extensively: South India.

So first up with three decades in Dubai and counting, this double agent leads two lives, one as a sustainable car wash, entrepreneurial, and the other as a host of our food tours in Dubai.

Hey Noorin, great to have you back!

Noorin: Thanks for having me Arva.

Arva:  And next up our general manager, food tour guide, survivor of crazy amounts of spice and the undisputed master of food trivia: hey Farida, Thanks for joining!

Farida: Hi, Arva, it’s great to be back.

Arva: Great to have both you ladies on the show

And because I got called out on the last episode for bios that didn’t really feel relevant given what our new lives are looking like during COVID I’m just going to add that, if I’m right and you guys can correct me, both of you ladies right now using the extra time that you’ve got to cook up a storm as are many people. So cooking up a storm in your kitchens, experimenting with new recipes but, you’re also both playing a pretty pivotal role in our COVID community programs.

So it’s a program where we’re sending out meals from small local restaurants in Dubai to neighbors in need, thanks to the generous gifts from listeners like yourself. And you can learn all about that program on our website: www.fryingpanadventures.com

Alright, so Farida, let’s start off with you since you are the undisputed master of food trivia, just help us set the stage: who’s first started cooking with coconuts? What sort of coconut-ty facts should we know before we actually open up that can of coconut milk?

Farida: Okay, before I get down to all these interesting factoids, I have to say that for nearly every Indian girl, and Noorin you can correct me if I’m wrong, one of our earliest memories of coconut is Parachute.

Noorin: Yes, so true.

Farida: So does that ring a bell?

Noorin: I can smell it already.

Arva: The blue bottle of Parachute…

Farida: Parachute oil, coconut oil. It was a must.

And they don’t just put a little bit in your head, they’ll slather it on. So you’re smelling of coconut oil for the whole day and the whole week. But that is the significance of coconut in our lives, right from the time that we are children.

But coming back to what you were saying, Arva. So, coconut is one of those things that the history and the origins are debatable. So, if you look at prominent food writers like Harold McGee or even Alan Davidson, they will tell you that coconuts probably did originate in tropical Asia—Melanesia—but there are also certain schools that believe that it already existed in South America.

However, what we do know is, thanks to the Portuguese and even the Spanish to a large extent and the Colombian exchange coconuts began to spread across the rest of, what we like to call, the New World. And this was probably around the end of the 15th century when they began to become prominent.

Now the word coconut, very, very interesting etymology. The word ‘coco’ in Portuguese actually means monkey, or something with a grotesque face, or even a goblin and that’s because the coconut looks like a face with its three eyes at the bottom of the stem. And that is from where the shoot will also germinate.

In Sanskrit, which is the oldest language in India, the word for coconut, I am not able to pronounce it, but that word actually means a tree which gives all that is necessary for living. You can actually use every part of that tree, whether it’s food, whether it’s to make a roof thatching, even utensils. So it’s a very, very useful tree and nut and it is actually the largest and most important of all nuts.

Arva: And I’m glad you kind of brought up this point that it is a nut. So just break down the structural elements of the coconut, because is it a fruit? Is it the pit of a fruit? What exactly are we looking at? What are we cooking with basically?

Farida: Okay, so I’m going to do my best to break it down.

So in the true definition of a nut—it’s not really a true nut. It is basically a drupe, which is a fruit with a hard stone and the part that you’re cooking with is the inner kernel.

So, you have an outside sheath, under that sheath you will have this brownish fibrous layer, then a husk that actually protects the kernel and coconut. And the kernel is what you would actually use in your various culinary applications.

Now, it takes approximately one year on an average for a coconut to ripen. Before the seven-month mark is what you would call the ‘tender’ coconut when you get that sweet coconut water and that soft gelatinous flesh. And then up to a year is when the kernel starts to harden, the water content starts to reduce and that is when you would use it more in it’s dried, hard, chewy form.

Arva: Okay, that makes a lot of sense. What are some of the most traditional recipes with coconut that you’ve seen, Farida?

 Fresh Coconut Milk and Coconut Cream

Farida: So most recipes that I’ve seen would call for either desiccated coconut, which is dried, shredded coconut, or coconut milk.

Before I get into it, let me quickly explain to you what coconut milk is. A lot of people might think that this is a natural by-product of the coconut, but it’s not, you actually have to make coconut milk. And the easiest way to do it is to take that dried out kernel, pour boiling hot water on it, let it sit for some time, pass it through a strainer, then a cheesecloth until the milk comes out.

And you can keep doing that to the pulp but that means coconut milk that would keep coming out would be a lot more diluted, a lot more thinner. Or if you did it at the first press left it aside for a little bit, you would actually have coconut cream separating. These days of course you can get it readymade from the supermarkets.

Arva: Sorry, I’m going to do time out. I heard that for coconut cream. It’s the same preparation technique as coconut milk, except that you use half the amount of water.

Farida: You can actually use the same amount of water. It’s just a question of then letting that solution sit aside for at least an hour until the coconut cream separates out.

Arva: That’s interesting. Okay.

Farida: But I personally have never tried this, so this is theoretical. I’ve always done the lazy thing of going to the supermarket and buying my coconut milk ready-made.

You should also know that in India, we have special implements for cutting the coconut. So, people will actually sit in front of this huge, I don’t want to call it a scythe, but it’s a large knife and you just take the coconut and you break it open by pulling it across that huge blade. Now…

Noorin: It’s like a machete kind of a thing.

Farida: It’s like a machete, I think. Yeah, I want to say machete, it is, it is. I’ve never tried it. Again, it looks quite scary, but it’s very, very effective.

Arva: Farida, do you remember we’d seen something similar like that in Cambodia…

Farida: …in Cambodia and mum tried it. She actually, well, they had the coconut broken open and then they also use it, it doubles up as a way to grate the coconut, as well. So it’s really super-efficient if you know how to work it.

Arva: Yeah, it’s a little bit involved for many of us who are just sort of splashing in coconut, into an occasional recipe here or there but, I think, the people that we had met in Cambodia, or the chefs that we had met in Cambodia definitely advocated the use of that more natural product than the stuff that you typically get in the supermarket aisles.

Farida: Absolutely. And the flavors of course are going to be so different because that’s happening fresh as opposed to something that you’re just buying off the shelf.

But, you know, we don’t have the luxury to always take a machete in our own kitchen and do it and I’m okay with that. I’m quite clumsy so, yeah…

Arva: I think it could be a good stress-buster right now, given the people that are at home. Just, like, sit there and break coconuts. I think right now might be the time.

Farida: I am not going to advocate that because we’re still in the semi-quarantine stage and, you know, accidents happen. The ambulances will have to prioritize.

 Traditional South Indian Dishes with Coconut

Getting back to what I’ve seen coconut used in the most or what I have used it in, as well. We have simple South Indian recipes, like beans poriyal, which, and you can actually make this with cabbage and carrots as well, it’s super simple.

People have this notion that “all Indian food is spicy.” This is a classic dish, which will defeat that stereotype. It’s just beans that have been softened in a tempering of mustard seeds, split black lentils, you can even add in curry leaves—actually, you should add in curry leaves.

If you want, you can put in whole, dried, red chilies, if you don’t want those, leave it out. Make sure the beans are nice and softened and at the end put in some of that desiccated coconut, saute for a bit and you’ve got this lovely, fresh, vibrant, aromatic dish, ready to go.

Arva: Is that the same as a thoran?

Farida: More or less, I want to say that a thoran might be a little bit wetter than a poriyal. A poriyal is more dry.

Sticking to South India, on the spicier side of the spectrum we have this dish that is made in Kerala and it is one of my favorites. To all my fellow Keralites out there, forgive my pronunciation, but it’s called beef ularthiyathu.

And that is just slivers of tender beef that have been cooked in spices, like, you can put garam masala, you can use turmeric, coriander powder, curry leaves—must, must, must—onions, green chilies and then you also add in slivers of coconut and you just saute that up until the gravy is dried out.

And you pair those with appams, which are the rice flour breads that are made in Kerala and also in Sri Lanka. And incidentally appams will usually contain coconut milk as well.

Arva: Yes, they do.

Farida: But if you are doing it the traditional way, if you’re in Kerala, they would actually also use toddy.

Arva: And what is toddy, for folks who may not have heard of that?

Farida: Remember, I said that the Sanskrit word says a tree which gives everything?

Well, this tree also gives you alcohol and it gives you instant alcohol, actually. So when you tap the tree, the sap that comes out, it starts to ferment really quickly and within four hours, actually, you’ve got a very potent brew. But you don’t have to wait that long.

Toddy is basically the liquor that comes from the coconut palm tree. And you can use it to make appams because it will allow for yeast fermentation to take place as well.

Arva: Okay, that’s really helpful. Just going back to the unpronounceable beef dish, I’m not even going to be…

Farida: …beef roast, call it beef roast.

Arva: Beef roast! Yes, exactly! I’ve had a very similar dish, at Calicut Paragon as well as at Aaraamam.

These are two Keralite restaurants in Karama. They are superb, like, fantastic beef dishes. Calicut has some outstanding seafood dishes. I’ve had prawns that are done in that kind of masala and they’re so crispy and you have those little bits of coconut and the curry leaves and it just—wow those, it’s—you can just kind of snack on them.

Farida: I absolutely agree with you Arva and traditionally you’d actually saute the beef and all those spices in coconut oil.

Arva: Ah!

Farida: I know that back in the day, coconut oil was frequently used around the world. Then in the 20th century it earned a bad rep, but now we’re back again and we’re beginning to love using coconut oil.

Arva: Farida, do you know anything about the smoking point of coconut oil? So I just want to understand what kind of applications it makes sense to actually cook in coconut oil.

Farida: You can actually use coconut oil for deep frying as well.

Arva: So pretty high smoking point then?

Farida: It does because in Kerala banana chips are traditionally fried in coconut oil.

Arva: Ah, of course, yes. Didn’t think of that.

Farida: And it’s also quite high in saturated fatty acids, which means it is resistant to turning rancid.

Arva: Brilliant point, but I do think that’s a bit of an acquired taste. I tend to prefer banana chips just in regular oil.

Farida: I will be honest, I will not use coconut oil in everything, but I don’t mind it in certain Keralite dishes or even in banana chips.

And what you need to know is that in tropical climates, coconut oil, when you store it, it will be in its liquid form, but the minute it goes into cooler climates, it will start to solidify. Just remember your Parachute oil again, mum would always have to put it in the microwave, just to make it liquid again.

Noorin: I think that’s the key note to make, in order to understand which is a pure coconut oil, as opposed to the not so pure ones, because the pure ones actually do solidify much quicker than the pure ones.

Farida: Yes and that’s how you know that you’ve got the good stuff and yes, it’s amazing for your hair is what they say in India and that’s why we have it slathered on our scalps.

Arva: …that’s why you have lustrous hair.

Farida: Lustrous hair.

Arva: So let’s move away from India.

Farida, can you give us some other traditional dishes that you’ve seen in other parts of Asia, the parts of the world where coconut is used in its best possible form?

 Simple Asian Recipes with Coconut

Farida: Oh, absolutely, Southeast Asia does this very well, whether it’s Cambodia, whether it’s Thailand, even the Philippines for that matter, but I’m going to share with you two things that I absolutely love.

One is again, a non spicy dish, which is actually very simple to make at home—coconut rice. Simple, Asian style, coconut rice, all you need coconut milk, which you can buy in a supermarket, a little bit of salt, sugar, you put all of that into a nice pot.

Stir it well until the sugar dissolves. Add in your rice. Boil that, say, for another 15 to 20 minutes, until the rice turns fragrant and fluffy and the water has evaporated and you’ve got simple Asian style, coconut rice. No fuss, nothing at all. And, of course, you can always spice it up by adding a few more ingredients if you like, but I find that the basic version is absolutely aromatic.

Arva: That’s such a brilliant idea because whenever I would have leftover coconut milk after making a Thai curry, you always wonder “what do you do with that extra bit?” And yeah, so simple, just throw that into rice.

Okay, that’s a great tip.

Farida: The other one that I love is tom yum soup and I’m sure that…

Noorin: Mmm…

Farida: …yeah, that’s a favorite with a lot of people!

Noorin: …I love tom yum.

Farida:  And that, yeah, that plays, to my spicy side.

And by the way, I’m just going to quickly mention this, one of the best tom yum soups I have had, in Dubai, is at Sticky Rice.

Arva: Yes!

Farida: Again, I have not tried it making this at home. Luckily I’ve got Sticky Rice to go to for it.

You don’t want to mess with perfection, but if you don’t have access to Sticky Rice, tom yum soup is this classic—usually shrimp base—spicy broth that is flavored with wonderful spices like galangal, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass.

You can put in bird’s eye chili or the thai chilies, as you call them, onions and then you’d put in shrimp oil, which is made from the shrimp heads.

Peel your shrimps, as well, add that in. Boil that lovely fragrant mixture and then, at the end you can also add in a splash of coconut milk just to get it to be a little bit more creamy and to offset any spice from the bird’s eye chilies.

Arva: Wow, that sounds delicious. And calls for an immediate trip to Sticky Rice.

Farida: It does.

And in fact, I was doing a little bit of research and I think ‘tom’ means boiling and ‘yum’ means something that is hot and sour.

Arva: So as opposed to, just being, yum?

Farida:  Yeah, as opposed to just being, I suppose, to just being yum.

Arva: Alright, that’s super interesting Farida. Thank you for sharing that.

Noorin, I want to get into some of your recipes because I know you use coconut products for a slightly different reason, other than tradition. And I think that will resonate with a lot of people.

So we’ll get into that, we’ll get into your template for coconut cooking, but let’s first take a quick pause for a proud sponsors: Abela and Co.

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…and we are back to this coconutty episode of Deep Fried.

Noorin, I want to get into your template for cooking with coconuts, but first I think, tell us why you actually use coconut as much as you do in your cooking because I think this would be very relevant for a lot of folks in the present day and age.

 Dairy Alternatives for Lactose Intolerance and Vegan Lifestyle

Noorin: Yeah, well, first of all, please allow me to recuperate from all the salivating I’ve been doing from what Farida has been talking about, but let’s get into what coconut means to me in my family.

It has so much to offer to dairy-free consumers. My husband is severely lactose-intolerant, in fact, since birth actually. So growing up, however, he took his chances with milk and dairy products, because it was so difficult back then to even think of an alternative option here.

Luckily, it was an intolerance and not an allergy. So he skated through his childhood with minor stomach cramps or negligible hives. Trust me though, sometimes it’s way worse with age and considering we’re from the South Indian city of Hyderabad, a lot of our dishes include dairy products. Especially when we have events at home, we have family over at home, everything uses…

Farida: Kheer!

Noorin: Yeah, kheer, biryani, kababs,

Farida: …that’s a staple.

Noorin: …absolutely, sheer khurma during Eid. We use yogurt marinades in everything and milk in desserts, yogurt again, for several dishes in Ramadan, like dahi wada of course and biryani—staple in our house, sometimes.

Luckily, now I am able to replace that with either coconut cream, milk or coconut yogurt—a blessing in disguise—coconut yogurt! I’ve managed to bring the same flavors of the biryani without overpowering it with the coconut-ty flavors that you might get sometimes.

Now, that does get tricky to mask: the sweetness of the coconut milk, sometimes, in the savory dishes. But the best thing to do for that is add extra lime or lemon into your dishes.

Arva: Very smart.

Noorin: So with coconut milk, cream or yogurt, it tends to also make dishes nice and creamy, luscious textures. So that’s an added advantage in dishes like sheer khurma, which is a dessert we make with vermicelli noodles and nuts and lots and lots of ghee.

Ghee, ironically, is not something that can be considered as lactase. So you can definitely have that if you’re lactose intolerant. Butter, on the other hand, you cannot.

Arva: …and just to do add in there, that’s because ghee, this is a very slapdash explanation, but ghee is essentially butter with the milk solids removed.

Noorin: Exactly, so there’s no casein in it.

Arva: It’s clarified butter.

Noorin: Correct.

Farida: Noorin, one thing I love that you mentioned is that you can counteract the sweetness of the coconut milk with lime or lemon. That’s great because it will not even curdle, with regular milk, the minute you add lemon or lime, you have to…

Noorin: So true…

Arva: Oh, I didn’t think of that. Yes.

Noorin:  …even vinegar.

Farida: Yeah, interesting.

Noorin: So we’ve just come out of Ramadan and I’ve had lots and lots of dahi wadas, which is another big staple dish in our house. Dahi wada has the word ‘dahi’ in it, which is yogurt, but I’ve managed to replace that with coconut yogurt. Same taste. You don’t even get the excessive coconut-ty flavor in there.

The same way to make the dahi wadas, you use the same ingredients, except you replace the yogurt. So you whisk your yogurt, the coconut yogurt, and you’ll add salt, some lime in it and then you’ll add some little sugar as well, because there’s some tartness you want to get rid of, add some water. Give it a nice texture.

And then you fry your bhajias with the gram flour, add it to the yogurt base and temper it with curry leaves, with some cumin seeds and I like to add dry red chilies as well. Again, this will not curdle your yogurt at all.

Farida: Yum.

Noorin: Yeah, so you can add the hot temper on the yogurt. It won’t even curdle it as opposed to dahi wadas where you would wait it out till the tempering is cooler and that’s when you will add the tempering on the yogurt.

Arva: That’s great, that means coconut milk, coconut yogurt, much more forgiving products for the experimental chef.

But you were talking about coconut yogurt. Is that something you’re setting at home or do you buy coconut yogurt from the store?

Noorin: So, currently I buy my coconut yogurt. It’s quite expensive, actually compared to your regular yogurt.

Arva: I can imagine.

Noorin: But I do have an instant pot at home, which has the yogurt setting and I am so looking forward to experimenting with this. Seen lots of recipes to make your own yogurt at home using the same cultures from your current coconut yogurt. As soon as I’m done with that, we’re going to do an episode on exactly what happens then.

Arva: Wonderful.

Farida: All the best with that.

Noorin: Farida mentioned, it is quite a laborious effort to make your own coconut milk or cream. I would love to do that, but I too am guilty of using the canned products. They’re my lifesaver. And I always have lots stocked in my pantry, unlike you Arva, I actually end up using all of it.

So, let me talk to you through about how you can replace it in common dishes at home?

When I’m making biryanis, I will replace the yogurt marinade for my meat, with the coconut yogurt or with the coconut milk or cream. Now the cream gives it a nice thicker and lustrous texture as opposed to the milk. So I’ll stick to cream and yogurt instead. Like I mentioned, to give it the tartness, add lemon here.

Arva: So, I have a question. You’re from Hyderabad.

Noorin: Yes.

Arva: You understand biryani,

Noorin: I do.

Arva: You’ve had the real stuff without coconut. How does, you know like, what is your honest opinion of the meat with the coconut? Does the flavor…really omnipresent or can you get away with it?

Noorin:  You will not even know the difference. I have kept both options in front of the family and none, no one knows.

Farida: I can believe this because contrary to popular belief, coconut milk, coconut water, and coconut cream, because they are fresher, don’t have that overpowering coconut flavor that we usually associate. That flavor is more common to the dried or desiccated coconut.

Noorin: That’s true.

Arva: I’m blown away by that though.

Never heard of it being used in biryani. I think that’s super useful for folks who want to make it at home, who want to marinate meat in general, but can’t use dairy and shy away from those yogurt marinades. Wow, never thought that you could do it with coconut yogurt.

That being said, I wonder whether coconut yogurt tenderizes meat in the way that regular yogurt does. I wonder what the properties are? I think that’s interesting to figure out.

Noorin: Well, not as well as your natural yogurt would. So you have to add tenderizing properties like raw papaya paste, or well, if you want to get even more creative, you can even use mashed kiwis for that. So they’re a natural tenderizer for meat.

Arva: Very smart.

Noorin: But if you’re using it in savory dishes yeah, don’t go for the kiwi.

Farida: I would assume that coconut yogurt wouldn’t work much as a tenderizer because it lacks the same acidity as regular milk-based yogurt. Is that right, Noorin?

Noorin: That’s correct. Also, you have the microbiome, you have the bacteria that you need to break down the meat and that is not present in coconut yogurt. They have vegan cultures, don’t work the same way as the cultures in yogurt would.

Farida: It’s kind of an oxymoron, vegan culture on meat.

Noorin: Yeah, absolutely correct.

Arva: Okay Noorin, keep inspiring us. Tell us more.

 Coconut Breakfast Bowl with Coconut Yoghurt

Noorin: Alright so after a nice hard workout, you need something to cool your system down and especially in the summer, my go-to would be yogurt, generally is, but what I replace that with for my husband is a dollop of yogurt with toasted sunflower seeds and almonds or any nuts, go crazy with nuts, berries or a homemade compote, drizzle of dhibs or date molasses, a sprinkle of a pinch of Himalayan salt, if you have and you have a delicious, healthy, cooling breakfast for a post-workout meal.

Arva: Wow, that’s so fancy. I love the touch of the Himalayan salt there at the end.

Farida: I know, that takes to the next level, but the other great thing is also coconut water. So rich in electrolytes. So after a workout or during a workout, ditch the energy drinks and just glug coconut water instead.

Arva:  Yeah, I have to say I’m a huge advocate of coconut water. Not because of the fact that it’s been trending around the world for some time now, but that’s actually something that mum has given to us growing up whenever we’ve had a tummy upset, it’s one of those few things that can be really light on the tummy and it can help to replenish electrolytes.

It’s my go-to thing to have, especially during Ramadan if I’m fasting, there’s nothing, I think, more hydrating than fresh coconut water.

Farida: I always recommend that you take that coconut and shove it in the fridge for a bit, so when you do drain out the water from it, it’s going to be nice and chilled.

Arva: Yes, that’s right.

And you know, actually, all this talk about coconut yogurt has me thinking again about Sticky Rice where they make coconut-based, basically, vegan ice cream.

Farida: It’s delicious.

Arva: And Mo Abedin from Sticky Rice, spoke to us about that on our Ramadan foods episode. So have…I don’t know if either of you have tried this?

Farida: Yes, yes and yes.

Arva:  It’s served, I think, with mangoes and sticky rice

Farida: Yes, and it is incredible. They also do a sticky rice and mango dessert and that sticky rice is infused with the coconut milk and it is a beautiful, beautiful dessert.

Arva: And Farida, this comes from you. You don’t even like mangoes and sticky rice from what I remember?

Farida: No, I don’t, but they do it so well, I guess I just never had a mother making it for me before.

Noorin: I have one last coconut ingredient to talk about and I feel like we should consider this in the future, if possible.

 Coconut Aminos: Gluten-free Alternative to Soy Sauce

So replace your soy sauce with coconut aminos. Now, this is a very new ingredient that people have been speaking about and I’ve tried it. It’s a low sodium soy sauce alternative. It’s gluten-free. Non-GMO, so genetically modified organism and vegan.

With several health concerns that we have these days, in terms of women going through polycystic ovary syndrome or gut issues, such as Hashimoto’s or irritable bowel syndrome, you want, nay, you need to, stay away from soy—milk, cheese and the sauce included.

So coconut aminos are a great flavor enhancer and gives you that soya sauce kick in your food without having to use the soya sauce.

Farida: That’s amazing, and where can people get their hands on this Noorin? This is the first I’m hearing of it.

Arva: Yeah, me too…

Noorin: So, you get it in any of your bigger stores, so in Lulu, Choithrams, in Carrefour, it’s available on Instashop as well.

Arva: So is there a certain brand that you’re going with?

Noorin:  Alright, so the brand you want is Coconut Secret.

Farida: Coconut Secret.

Noorin: It’s called Coconut Secret. So they come in Coconut Secret Teriyaki sauce, or just the original Coconut Aminos. They come with flavors.

Farida: And you just splash it into your stir fry or whatever dish, the way you would use the soya sauce?

Noorin: Yes.

Arva: Okay, wow. And it has the same umami flavor?

Noorin: Very close. Now, obviously soya sauce, excessively salty, it has that kick. It has a fermented kick but this too has it, is not that excessive.

Arva: That’s just a… this is a whole new world that you’ve opened.

Farida: We need to try this Arva, we need to try this.

Arva: Absolutely.

Wow, Noorin, I think that’s definitely a new finding for a lot of people. So thank you for sharing that. I feel like you need to write a book on coconut.

Farida:  I can hear the cogs in Arva’s brain turning right now. I can hear them.

Arva: Yeah. I didn’t—never knew that that was even around. So this is really great because I think over the last couple of years coconut has become, and I hate using this word—but it really—people do advocate it as a superfood, you know?

And of course, it is a very critical part of the vegan trend, but I’ve not been particularly impressed with the fact that it’s just sometimes snuck into certain desserts where the flavor is overpowering. I’ve never been a fan of that, but I think Noorin, the kinds of ideas that you’ve given today are quite subtle.

They seem to really work well with the different ingredients in those dishes and, yeah, I think for people who have not experimented with cooking with coconut as much before, looking for a dairy-free alternative, I think you’ve just given some brilliant ideas. So thank you for that.

Farida: Arva, I’m just gonna quickly add something here as well. I’ve had a few coconut-based vegan desserts. I had a vegan coconut-based brownie and I will admit I really did not enjoy it that much.

But the one thing I do enjoy coconut in is simple butter cookies. So if you want to enhance your cookies, just add in a little bit of dried coconut or desiccated coconut and as dessert, beautiful.

Arva: Wow. Ladies, this was so enlightening. Thank you so much.

I feel like a can of coconut milk or a tub of desiccated coconut will never go to waste again. It will never feel lonely in my fridge ever again. If folks want to hit you guys up for more coconut-ty ideas, can you tell us where they can find you on Instagram, Noorin?

Noorin: My Instagram handle is @noogoopoo

Arva: An unmistakable handle, and Farida?

Farida: You can find me on Instagram @faridaa

Arva: Fantastic.

And to all of you tuning in, you can find the recipe of Noorin’s energizing breakfast pot of coconut yogurt with all the fix-ins that she described on our blog at www.fryingpanadventures.com/blog

And if you enjoy the show, please rate, review and share it and connect with us over social at Frying Pan Adventures on Instagram and Facebook and Frying Pan Tours on Twitter.

And as always, I’m going to leave you with a quote for all the people out there who are aspiring like myself to put coconut to good use. And this comes from a lady who needs no introduction, Julia Child, herself. And she says:

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking, you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”