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Coconut Milk

Coconuts are high in fat but equally high in fibre making it difficult to consume too much fat if eaten grated or sliced. Coconuts have been used in India for centuries and in both savoury and sweet dishes as well as in kachumbers or salads. The medium-chain triglycerides in coconut flesh are absorbed directly from the small intestine and used for energy. Coconuts are rich in manganese, which promotes bone health, have a good amount of copper and iron which are necessary for the formation of red blood cells, and selenium and phenolic compounds which may act as an antioxidant. Just watch out with the amount you eat as it is high in fat and so in calories.

Recipe credit: Darshana Muzumdar

Coconut milk can be used as a substitute for dairy milk in most recipes. However, it tends to split if boiled. So, it needs to be heated but not boiled. But, even if it splits it tastes fine and one cannot feel the solids as in split dairy milk.

One coconut usually weighs anywhere from 200gms to 400gms. The following recipe is for a medium sized coconut.


  • 1 coconut
  • 3 cups water


The general rule for the first extract is to just about cover the coconut pieces or the scraped coconut in the blender jar for the blades to move smoothly with water to get the first extract. Or approximately, use 1 cup water for each 1 cup of coconut pieces or grated coconut to get the first thick extract.

Note: 1 coconut (approximately 250-300 gms of grated coconut) plus two cups of water will yield around 500 ml of thick coconut milk. The residue plus one cup water will yield around 300-400 ml thin coconut milk of the second extract.

Soak grated coconut in hot water for 5-10 minutes to get a finer consistency while grinding. Use the same water for grinding.

Coconut milk can be preserved in an airtight container in the fridge for around 2-3 days. However it’s always best to use freshly made coconut milk for the best flavor.


Breaking the coconut:

Remove the top husk on the coconut.

Wash the coconut and keep aside for the water to drain and till the shell is fairly dry. Washing prevents the outside fibers from falling into the coconut water when you break it.

Break it into two with a hammer, coconut breaking sickle, or a strong metal pestle.

Making the coconut milk

Either remove the coconut flesh with a knife or scrape it on the traditional South Indian scraper. If the pieces have been removed with a knife, cut them into thinner slivers or smaller pieces to ensure the blender doesn’t get damaged.

Measure the pieces or grated coconut in cups. Add an equal amount of very hot water, cover and keep aside for 5-10 minutes.

Place 1 cup slivers or grated coconut into the jar of a blender. Add one cup of water. Blend till very fine. Add up to another 3/4 to one cup of water if the mixture doesn’t move smoothly in the jar.

Strain through a fine muslin cloth or nut milk bag placed over a pot. Squeeze out as much milk as possible. Repeat with the rest of the coconut slivers or grated coconut. This is the first thick extract.

Put this away in a steel pot or a glass jar. This can last for up to 3 days if refrigerated, however, it may split more easily if used in curries or any hot drink.

Put the fiber left in the muslin cloth back into the jar again and add 3/4 cup water. Grind to a fine paste again for about two minutes. Add upto a quarter cup more of water if necessary. Strain and keep aside. This is the second thinner extract. Keep this aside separately in a steel pot or glass jar.

Repeat once again. This time use only half cup of water. This will be the third very thin extract.

For the Whole-Food Plant-Based (WFPB) version:

Very often finely ground coconut can be used without straining it. This is especially good in curries and sweet dishes.

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