Faster than a gym junkie can hydrate with a young coconut, this super food is as delicious as it is versatile. But the ancient drupe that bore these "it" ingredients ain't no passing fad. It's loved the world over in creamy curries, Hawaiian pies, banana blossom salads and Bosnian bickies. Coconut, we salute you: flesh, flour, milk and all.
18 Sep 2014 - 5:23 PM  UPDATED 29 Nov 2016 - 9:41 AM

1. Cream, get on top

Thicker and richer in flavour than the milk, coconut cream is ideal in curries, dairy-free ice-creams and other indulgent desserts. Gina from Harvest likes to team the cream with chia seeds, seasonal fruit and chopped nuts for a very delicious vegan breakfast pudding. We think she’s onto a winner.

2. A loyal kind of oil

Extracted from the fruit’s dried flesh, coconut oil carries healing properties It’s brilliant in baked goods, like this coconut-banana bread, thanks to the high smoke point and appealing aroma. The oil, which solidifies at room temperature, also makes a mean moisturiser, says our Bakeproof columnist Anneka Manning.

Photo credit: Alan Benson

3. Double your winnings

Known simply as ‘beef fry’, this dry curry from Kerala calls for the meat to be cooked twice. First, marinate and pop in a pressure cooker, then fry with curry leaves and coconut (both the oil and fresh shavings). Via Feast magazine

4. Crescents from the Adriatic Coast

Coconut flour might be new to our lexicon, but the Bosnians are seasoned supporters. Sanda Vuckovic Pagaimo from Little Upside Down Cake remembers eating these buttery biscuits as a child in the ‘80s. We feel a revival coming on.

5. Flash in the pan(cakes)

Bananas, eggs, shredded coconut and berries form the base of these deceptively decadent-looking pancakes from Green Kitchen Stories. Light bulb moment, flour isn’t necessary! Serve yourself a stack this weekend and savour the sweet, natural goodness.

6. One to write home about

Some salads are best as sides, but this Thai classic should be served front and centre. The Feast recipe mixes raw banana blossoms – a South-East Asian specialty – with fresh herbs, spring onions, zesty coconut chicken and a heavenly dressing that ticks sweet, sour, spicy and salty boxes.

7. Gluten-free flour power

Keen to cook with aformentioned coconut flour? Hold your horses. It’s a super thirsty ingredient, so a simple substitution with plain flour just ain’t gonna work. Follow a few baking recipes, like Anneka Manning’s wickedly rich coconut and raspberry brownies, before heading solo.

8. Hawaii two-point-o

A culinary and cultural fusion, this pie combines the traditional coconut milk-based Hawaiian dessert (haupia) with shortcrust pastry and a layer of chocolate custard. The creation is so popular on the American islands that McDonald’s even serves their own (deep-fried) version. Via Feast magazine

9. The juiciest chick around

For a lighter alternative to creamy curries, try Luke Nguyen’s slow-braised chicken with green peppercorns. Simmered in young coconut juice, the fragrant Vietnamese dish is best served with a crisp baguette.


10. Sugar, how’d you get so fly?

With its earthy, caramel flavour, coconut sugar lends itself to baking (example A: coconut-oat biscuits) and brulee-ing. In this tempting tropical number from the food dept., bruleed fruit skewers are paired with gingersnap crumb and coconut cream. Summer, here we come.

Bruleed fruit skewers with gingersnap crumb and coconut cream


Still loco for coconuts? Start with Anneka Manning's column on baking with coconut, then check out the following recipe collections:


Keen for some more sweet reads?