Two New Yorkers spend six months 18 months!?! in Bangalore and other places in India.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Not Cuckoo for Coconuts

God I hate coconuts. Well, they're fine from a distance, on trees, but I've never been able to open them and get at the flesh or the milk inside. The one time I did, the coconut milk seeped out on the floor. That was where the coconut was after I hurled it down in a messy but effective attempt to open it.

Today, the problem was getting dried ("desiccated") coconut. I was cooking a recipe in a British cookbook, so that was my first mistake -- too many convenience products were used, and it assumed I had a blender.

Dried coconut may exist in India, but at my stores you deal with a copra, the entire dried-out interior of a coconut. It's not ripped into tiny pieces or anything, and it still has a brown coating. It's like a little shrunken head, except it's a coconut.

To try to use it, I first hacked off the coating and then sliced off pieces of the leathery white coconut inside. Then I tried to cut it into smaller pieces, but it didn't work out well at all. I didn't cut myself with my dull knife, that's about the best I can say about it.

To do this job properly, I believe that Indians either use fancy mixer-grinders or maybe grate the whole thing with a stone. Or maybe they do something else. Please let me know what I did wrong if you know.

I just know I'm not going for any recipes calling for dried or whole coconut until I'm back in New York City. Coconuts, you've won this time.


Anonymous said...

skip the knife -- most indians use a coconut grater. it has a round, serrated blade that you use to grate the coconut by hand. very easy and low tech. you should definitely invest in one because you're missing out on real south indian food if you leave out the coconut!

Tripp Hall said...

Does it look a little like a vegetable peeler? I have something like that in the kitchen, but it's kind of cheap looking -- like it will break. I think I'll have to go get a better one.

And I agree about the importance of coconuts in the food here -- pretty critical.

Anonymous said...

Coconut grater pics

Tripp Hall said...

Aha! I've seen those things, but somehow never asked what they were for. I'm totally getting one when I have a chance.