Don’t Judge A Coconut Milk By Its ‘Title’

29 Jul

Part of the reason I started this blog was to give myself motivation to cook many of the recipes that I’ve been collecting over the past year or two.  I have a fixation with seeking out healthy recipes but I collect far more than I cook, and so the pile grows…

The other night I tackled a recipe for a spicy vegetable curry that I clipped from the July 2010 issue of Chatelaine magazine.  Instead of purchasing a large bottle of Indian curry paste that would sit unused in my fridge, I decided to whip up my own version based on a little bit of research and the spices I had on hand.  I was pleasantly surprised– despite my makeshift curry paste, the dish turned out quite nicely.  Next time I think I will increase the number of eggplants (Japanese eggplants are one of my favourites– they have an amazing texture) and throw in some tofu for a little extra protein.

As a side note, while shopping for coconut milk I made an interesting discovery.  Despite being almost double the price, light coconut milk has always been my go-to since it’s a healthier alternative to the full-fat version.  But… lo and behold, this is not entirely the case!  Light will almost always be lowest in calories and in fat, but not necessarily by much.  For example, the regular version of brand #1 ($1.49 for a can) contained a whopping 120 calories and 10 grams of fat per serving while the light version of brand #1 ($2.49) contained only 40 calories and 3.5 grams of fat.  Out of curiosity, I looked at the label of brand #2 (which only came in regular) and noticed that it only contained 50 calories and 4 grams of fat in an identical serving size … and was the cheapest one of all at $1.29 per can.

The moral of the story?  You can’t judge a coconut milk (or any food item, for that matter) by its title.  Always read the Nutrition Facts Panel!

Summer Vegetables with Spicy Coconut Curry

Summer Vegetables with Spicy Coconut Curry
(from Chatelaine magazine, July 2010)

1/2 cup red lentils
500 g green beans, trimmed and cut in half
2 tbsp Indian curry paste, preferably biryani (or make your own, recipe below)
200 mL coconut milk
1/8 tsp salt
2 Japanese eggplants
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 onion, sliced
lemon wedges*
1/4 cup chopped cilantro (optional)

  1. Combine lentils with 2.5 cups of water in a medium pot.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat slightly and boil uncovered, stirring frequently, for 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, fill a large pot with water 1 inch deep and bring to a boil.  Add green beans and steam, covered, until tender-crisp, approximately 5 minutes. Drain beans and set aside.
  2. Mix curry paste with 1 tbsp water and add to simmering lentils.  Stir in coconut milk and salt.  Simmer, uncovered, until thickened, 7 to 9 minutes.
  3. While lentils simmer, slice eggplants into quarters lengthwise, then into 2-inch wedges. Heat oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat.  Cook onion until softened, about 3 minutes. Add eggplant, skin-side up.  Cook until tender, about 7 minutes.  Add green beans and toss to combine.
  4. Divide eggplant mixture between 4 bowls and top with lentil mixture.  Garnish with lemon and cilantro.  Can be served with toasted naan or over top rice.

*I didn’t think omitting the lemon would be a big deal, but the lentil mixture really needed a bit of acidity. I didn’t have lemons or lemon juice on hand so I used a few teaspoons of white wine vinegar. It made a big difference!

Makes 4 servings.  Per serving: 250 kcal, 11 g fat, 8 g fibre, 310 mg sodium

__________________________________________________________________________

Homemade Indian Curry Paste  (Makes 2 tbsp)

1/2 tbsp each cumin and coriander
heaping 1/4 tsp each turmeric, ginger, cayenne pepper, paprika
pinch of salt
3 cloves of garlic, grated
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, grated
1/2 tbsp white vinegar

Mix spices in a small bowl.  Add garlic and grated ginger, mix well.  Add vinegar, mix well.

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One Response to “Don’t Judge A Coconut Milk By Its ‘Title’”

  1. Sarah Leo July 30, 2011 at 1:25 pm #

    Sounds delicious! I’m really curious which coconut milk brand is the best one though…I’m going to have to more carefully look at the labels next time I’m in the store.

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