There are not one, but two events this month featuring coconut as the star ingredient. Healing Foods is being hosted by Saffron Streaks, and Veggie/Fruit a Month returns to its home base at Mharo Rajasthan’s Recipes. I’ll admit I was a bit nervous about this ingredient. While I’ve used coconut milk plenty of times, I haven’t done much cooking with actual coconut. While each event said cooking with any form of coconut–coconut milk included–would count, I felt that was kind of cheating. I was going to use actual coconut. And not for dessert, for a “real food.” So I went with the simplest thing I could think of, which is soup, because soup is pretty hard to mess up. ;)
Coconut Plantain Soup
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 large bell pepper (orange, yellow, or red), chopped
- 1 large plantain, sliced into quarters lengthwise, then into 1/4-inch segments
- 1 cup diced coconut meat or unsweetened coconut flakes/chips
- 1/2 cup masoor dal
- 1 14-ounce can coconut milk
- 4 cups water
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- Heat a medium-sized pot over medium heat. Add the oil. Once melted add the onions. Cook for a few minutes until onions are soft and translucent.
- Add in remaining ingredients. Cover and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to low and allow to simmer, partially covered, for around 45 minutes.
- Taste and adjust for seasoning and serve.
I did indeed buy a whole coconut and dig out the coconut meat. (Well really, I bought the coconut, and Mike dug out the coconut meat.) I’ve seen many recipe writers call for unsweetened coconut flakes, but I have yet to come across them. If you can find them, I imagine they’re a lot easier to work with than chopping up a whole coconut. (That’s just my guess.)
Masoor dal are split red lentils. They cook pretty quickly. Here they’re used as a thickener. If you can’t find them, you can try yellow split peas or even plain brown lentils. Make sure to give the soup a good stir every now and then to help break down the lentils.
As we learned with the fried plantains, plantains are a good potato substitute. They’re a bit sweeter, but they are starchy like potatoes. It stands to reason that the exchange works the other way as well. If you can’t find a plantain, use a medium-large starchy potato, like a russet.