The coconut tree has been called the ‘tree of life’ because of its multifarious uses- the leaves for matting, weaving, and hatching; the fibrous husks for making rope; the oil for soap, shampoo, and cosmetics; and, of course, the edible part of the coconut for ingredients in countless sweet and savory recipes.
Health benefits of coconut have garnered much attention in recent press. Last year India, one of the top coconut producing countries, experienced a 130% increase in consumption of “tender coconut.” The coconut water found in tender coconut is gaining popularity because its fat free, naturally sweet and electrolyte-rich. In other words, it’s the perfect energy drink. In addition to the elixir-like coconut water-the fleshy, edible part of the coconut, also known as “coconut meat” is much healthier than other fruits. Coconut meat contains less sugar and more protein than popular fruits such as bananas, apples, and oranges. As well, the health benefits of coconut oil include stress relief, weight loss, increased immunity, relief from kidney problems, diabetes, and maintaining cholesterol levels to name a few (I can already hear lines forming at Whole Foods). The coconut, it seems, is quickly achieving, rock star status.
I appreciate all of coconut’s non-food uses and its healthy benefits but I love coconut for one reason, I love to cook with it. From Thai-styled Massaman curry with coconut sauce to a sprinkle on my cupcakes, coconut provides a subtle nutty sweetness that I adore. Below is a recipe that I especially like, popular in the Northern region of India called “Coconut Ladoo.” It’s a simple recipe that’s doesn’t require a lot of time. Translated literally, “Coconut Ladoo” means “balls of coconut.” Combined with condensed milk, and powdered sugar these melt-in-your-mouth treats are truly unique.
Photo courtesy of Philip Shone Photography
3 cups fresh dry coconut (shredded)*
¾ can condensed milk
1 cup powdered sugarHow to make Coconut Laddoo:
Boil ¾ can of condensed milk in a pan.
When it starts boiling, add 2 cups shredded coconut and mix well.
When the milk gets absorbed in coconut, add the powdered sugar.
Stir continuously on medium flame until mixture starts leaving the sides of the pan.
Remove and make small balls (about the size of a table tennis ball).
Roll the balls in the remaining coconut.
Refrigerate Coconut Laddoos for 30 minutes before serving.