Coconut is a rich and nutritious source of juice, milk, pulp and oil that has fed people around the world for generations.
Nearly one third of the world’s population depends on coconut to some degree for their food. Among certain cultures, including India, the coconut has had a long and respected history.
There are a number of varieties of dishes made out of cream in India. Coconut rice is a delicious side dish that can be served along with a variety of Thai and Indian dishes such as curries, stir-fried vegetables, as also fish and seafood main courses.
The fruit is also used extensively to prepare sweet dishes in several parts of India.
Coconut pudding and coconut cupcakes make for delicious sweet dishes.
Dried coconut is also used in dishes to add flavour. It could be added in Upma, uthappam and dosas. Nariyal chutney is a popular accompaniment to Idlis and Nariyal ke Ladoo are just not to be missed.
In fact, if you were to check with the coconut lovers, they would share that food - even rice and dal should ideally have a sprinkling of shredded coconut which adds to the aroma and taste of the main dish. Also, grated coconut combined with spices makes for an exciting dip in chutney with snacks.
“There are a number of things one can do with coconut. If you think you don't like to eat your vegetables, you might just change your mind when you discover the simple and healthy vegetables simmered in a simple coconut milk curry.
Just about any veggies will do – try adding spinach to the curry, or to baby corn, for a change. These veggies have a bit of extra sauce, so you can serve them with rice, noodles, or try them with a whole grain such as millet,” says Ravi Sharma, a chef at Dev's restaurant in Noida.
Coconut is also used as main ingredient in most of the dishes of South India. South Indians cook their food in its oil as well. There are a number of health benefits of coconut too.
As you may be aware, the oil helps with hair care, skin care, stress relief, maintaining cholesterol levels, weight loss, increased immunity, proper digestion and metabolism, relief from kidney problems, heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, HIV and cancer, dental care and bone strength.
“The benefits of the oil can be attributed to the presence of lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid, and its properties such as anti-microbial, anti-oxidant, antifungal, anti-bacterial, soothing, etc.
Coconut oil is very effective against a variety of infections due to its anti-fungal, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial properties. It kills viruses that cause influenza, measles, hepatitis, herpes, SARS, etc. It also kills bacteria that cause ulcers, throat infections, urinary tract infections, pneumonia, and gonorrhea,” says Ridhima Kapoor, a dietician.
Coconut water is also a health craze during summer. Described as nature’s energiser, thirst quencher and even life enhancer, coconut water has many health benefits.
Packed with potassium that helps in regulating blood pressure, coconut water also helps replenishing body salts after sweating and is good support material for nutrition.