Today I was watching Dr. OZ who made a startling revelation about coconut oil as being effective in weight loss. Being born and raised in a tropical country, I am aware of the benefits the regular use of coconut oil furnishes to hair and skin, but I always knew coconut to be higher in fat content, hence associating coconut oil with the weight reduction didn't fit the bill. But the claims and subsequent demonstrations related to coconut oil helping in weight loss in Dr. OZ's show brought about a whole new perspective to my thought. According to Dr. OZ, recent medical and science research has clarified that the high content of saturated fat in coconut oil is medium chain fatty acid that is quickly absorbed in the bloodstream and immediately converted into energy with no chance of being stored thereby contributing to weight loss.
Now the part of India I hail from, mustard oil is the main source of consumption for cooking food. But there are many places in Southern India where coconut oil is the primary ingredient used in cooking, so much as a packet of banana chips reeking of coconut oil. One of my Mallu colleagues from Kerala declared rightly when he said that he could not live without food cooked in coconut oil. Though in Bengal, coconut oil is used in abundance to nourish hair, the same is not so true for cooking, mainly because of our culinary practice being dominated by the use of mustard oil and white oil.
It's popularly believed that coconut and tamarind pulp is a known combination used in South Indian cuisines. Recently I was invited over dinner by a friend who is originally from the beautiful coastal region of Mangalore. It was a simple home cooked fare that we relished to our heart's content, but the one that won our heart was the Chicken Curry concocted in typical Mangalorean fashion, the mild tartness of tamarind and the whiff of coconut and curry leaves bursting with an awesome flavour.
Ingredients: Cooking time: 1 hr 30 minutes approx
ü 1 1/2 kg chicken (on the bones)
ü 1 1/2 onion (chopped)
ü 1/2 cup thick coconut milk
ü 2 tbsp tamarind pulp
ü 1 tsp turmeric powder
ü 1 tsp kashmiri red mirch
ü Salt to taste
ü 1 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
ü 1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
ü 3 tbsp grated coconut
ü 3 dry red chillies
ü 1 inch ginger (chopped)
ü 4-5 cloves of garlic (chopped)
ü 5-6 green chillies (chopped)
ü 3-4 green cardamoms
ü 4-5 cloves
ü 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
ü 1 inch cinnamon stick
ü White oil for cooking
ü 1 string of curry leaves
ü 1 tsp black mustard seeds
1) Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a wok. Add onion and shallow fry till onion turns translucent. Take onion on to a plate and divide into two equal portions.
2) Using the same oil, roast dry red chillies, chopped green chillies, ginger-garlic, coriander-cumin seeds, grated coconut, cloves, cinnamon and black peppercorns for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat. Add half of the shallow fried onions, kashmiri red mirch, tamarind pulp, 1/4 cup of coconut milk and a sprinkling of water into the mixture. Grind them together to a smooth paste.
3) Toss the chicken pieces in turmeric powder and a pinch of salt.
4) Heat oil in a wok. When oil turns hot, add the ingredients for sauté and allow them to sputter. Add the chicken pieces and shallow fry them.
5) Add the remaining half of the shallow fried onions and the ground spice paste into the chicken. Cook covered for 10 minutes. Chicken will release water to get itself cooked.
6) In a small bowl, stir in 1/4 cup of coconut milk, salt and about 2-3 cups of hot water. Pour this into the wok and continue cooking the chicken covered till chicken is tender and oil floats on the surface.
7) Garnish with chopped green chillies. Serve hot with chapati or rice.