Most recipes in this site call for thick or thin (and sometimes both) coconut milk. In malayalam, coconut milk is always referred to as onnam paal (literally meaning first milk), rendaam paal (second milk), etc. The lighter coconut milk is used to simmer ingredients in and the first milk is added in the end just before turning off the heat – it should never be boiled.
Amma being the ever-resourceful person she is, also extracts moonnam paal (or third coconut milk) by just mixing the squeezed coconut shreds with some warm water in the end, without blending. This gives a very thin coconut milk but her view is that it’s still better to use this than cooking the base ingredients in water. True that!
|Homemade Coconut Milk in increasing order of thickness, top to bottom|
HOMEMADE COCONUT MILK RECIPE
Preparation time: 20 minutes
4 cups of packed fresh grated (shredded) coconut
6-8 cups of warm water
How to Make Coconut Milk:
1. You will need to blend the coconut in batches for best results. First, blend a small batch of coconut so that the shreds become smaller.
2. Add about 1 cup warm water to this and blend well.
3. Transfer this to a wide bowl and repeat with the rest of the coconut.
4. Gently mix the coconut + water mixture with your fingertips, take a handful and squeeze well.
5. Add the coconut shreds back into the mixer or blender. Repeat until you have around 1.5 cups thick coconut milk.
6. Add more warm water to the coconut shreds and blend again.
7. Take a handful of the blended coconut + water mixture and pass the milk through a sieve, pressing down into the sieve as you go. We need to be more thorogh while extracting the 2nd milk.
8. Pass all the coconut through the sieve like this, extracting the milk as you go. Add the remaining coconut shreds to another bowl. Now, our 2nd round of coconut milk is ready.
9. Generally, you can discard the shreds now but amma mixes some water with this and swirls it around, passing it through a sieve in the end to extract the 3rd round of coconut milk.
As mentioned, the thinner coconut milk is used to boil and simmer your vegetables, ada, etc in and the thick milk is added in the end to the hot gravy or payasam. Never boil thick coconut milk.