Like most people who adopted a vegan lifestyle later in life, I too had my apprehensions. Being a Palakkad Iyer (a community that uses milk and curd in generous measures) and a lover of a variety of foods that are often made with dairy, I wondered whether I would be able to survive without milk or milk products. It was quite easy turning lacto-vegetarian (eggless vegetarian) which I did three years before I turned vegan because egg was something I had adopted after marriage and it is still a banned item in my maternal home. My parents consume cakes and cookies made with eggs, but not other products, and they do not cook eggs at home.
Another thing that nagged me was whether I would be able to do justice to the three other people in our family (P, Jr.P and Jr.H). They were used to getting desserts, cakes and paneer at home at least twice a week and here I was walking the vegan march It took many failures before I could get the hang of perfect vegan cakes. Eggs in cakes are very forgiving and even if you beat more than the recipe demands or the egg curdles, you still have a cake that can be consumed with relish. Eggless was not difficult. Milk and cream make up for lack of egg. With vegan cakes one has to be careful about ‘how much’ and ‘how long’ the batter needs to be beat. Too much will make it dense, too less will make it crumbly.
Towards the end of last year I warily tried using coconut oil to bake. Coconut oil has more fat than the other oil which helps in giving a good texture, it does not leave a smell and is always available in my kitchen. My daughter however complained that she could smell it and that it has a strong flavour.
I mustered courage and tried using canned coconut milk and coconut cream in baking and found my Mecca but I wasn’t happy using store bought products. I like making things from scratch so it was natural to make these things at home. Ok, It is also because it is P who buys, grates and extracts coconut milk. 😀
Homemade coconut milk and cream are far better than store brought. The pictures are proof. It takes all my will power to stop myself from slurping them up.
When I posted a picture of the coconut butter in facebook, Manish Jain, requested me to post it in the group, “Indian Vegan”. I thought it would be a better idea to just post it here because I want it to be available to others as well. Had it not been for that nudge, I might not have made this a post at all, simply because it did not occur to me that it qualifies to be posted.
Hope you enjoy the benefits of this preparation as much as we do.
Pssst… Try getting someone to do the grating and the pressing.
Recipe: Making Raw Vegan Home made Coconut Cream and Coconut Butter
Time: P says it takes about 30 minutes which includes grating and pressing.
Yield: One medium sized coconut will yield thick coconut cream – 3/4 cup and milk – 2 cups
Coconut that is mature (heavy, meaty coconut) – 1, grated
Tap water – 2 cups
Cheese cloth or soup strainer
Grate the coconut discarding the brown inner layer. The yield will be approximately 4 cups, loosely packed.
For the cream, gather the gratings and crushing with your fingers, like how you knead dough. The milk will start oozing. Now express the thick milk without adding any water, one fistful at a time into other cup. Refrigerate the milk for at least four hours. The product you get will be thick and creamy.
To the residue that is left, add a cup of tap water or warm water, if you like, and repeat the same procedure. The milk so expressed will be thinner. Do not mix it with the milk that was expressed without water. Repeat with another cup of water. The second and third extract can be mixed. Refrigerate for two days so that fat rises to the top and hardens. Two days is needed to harden the fat. This forms the butter. Use up the butter immediately if possible. It will stay good, refrigerated for 2-3 days.
If you add water, the milk will not yield cream. The cream can be used in the same way as milk cream and will yield the same results.
If you do not want cream skip the first step and proceed for the second extract directly but with only one cup of water. The butter will be richer (See the first picture).
The butter (rich one as well the other) is great for baking but is not the same as butter from milk. It will not be good for puff pastries though it works well for cookies and cakes.
I use the second extract in making soups, apart from traditional Indian and Thai dishes. It yields a mild sweetness and aroma to any soup when used in combination with stock.
I will share the recipe for the cold fruit soup I made with this in my next post.
Do not freeze the cream. Use it within 2-3 days.