Coconut is one of those nuts that is very versatile in its benefits. There is debate as to what coconut is considered as. A fruit? A nut? To make things more confusing, coconut can be a fruit, a nut, and a seed. Well, technically it’s a fibrous one-seeded drupe. Whether it is coconut water, fresh or dried coconut meat, coconut oil or coconut jute (which is a long, soft, shiny vegetable fiber that can be spun into coarse, strong threads, from the fibers found between the hard, internal shell and the outer coat of a coconut), all of them come from this wonderful fruit/nut.
Fresh and dry coconuts are used extensively in South Indian recipes, both for taste, texture and for the health benefits. This vegan/vegetarian recipe is just the essence of delicious and nutritious, with minimal ingredients and a total cook time of less than 30 minutes. Seasoning ingredients – curry leaf, dry and green chili pepper, chana dal, mustard and cumin seeds, add a dash of flavor and spice. Green beans and carrots take on these flavors easily as they do not have very strong flavors of their own. All you need now, is some salt to taste and cayenne pepper to add the extra zing (if you don’t care for spices too much, you can completely skip cayenne pepper, since the seasoning ingredients already have a kick to them). If you’re looking for some extra flavor for this recipe, you could add Chutney Powder, if you have it handy. It’s my go-to for most sautéed veggies.
I go through a whole fresh coconut about every couple of months. I buy a fresh coconut from my grocery store, crack it to get my drink of fresh coconut water, and then scoop out the coconut meat. The dark outer skin is usually hard (and bitter) so I peel, wash, cut it to small pieces and freeze it. It’s very easy to defrost – just set in a bowl and rinse with warm water. Incidentally, my mom liked this idea so much she started doing the same in India. She always used farm fresh coconuts, which have never been frozen, since she grew up in a time without refrigerators, so kudos to her for embracing new ideas!
If the idea of buying a whole fresh coconut, cracking it and grating it is a cumbersome thought, fear not…modern life’s conveniences are there to help. Walk into an ethnic Indian grocery store, go to the freezer section, and buy freshly grated (and frozen) coconut. Remember to thaw only what you need, since it is not a great idea to refreeze thawed coconut.
Check out all our recipes that use fresh grated coconut – Zesty Carrot-Garbanzo Usli, Snake Gourd Coconut Sauté, Coconut Chutney and Coconut Tomato Chutney. These are absolutely delicious recipes that use fresh organic ingredients to enhance flavor and nutritional value.