Sep 28, 2009

Prawns INSIDE a coconut--A brief escape to the tropical paradise!

Ever thought of the hard, hairy, brown 'thing', which is a common feature in advertisements to tropical gateways--also called coconut? I mean, yes, I love coconut milk as a part of many of the regular favorites--Thai springs to mind :), flaked coconut in deserts and tit bits. I even love to experiment with coconut powder (evident in many of my posts)-- safe and never sorry. But what I mean by coconut today is not the milk nor the powder, but the fruit itself.
Yes that. You might be amazed that coconut can actually be used--just as it is-- to cook in and with-- at the same time? Notice the word 'in'. You heard right :) no bowls to dirty (okay maybe one), and no major spices as well. The trick is to cook inside the coconut so that the flavors of the coconut gets infused into the food.
This is a delicacy of India--but very very rarely made. And I will bet, it is a regular feature in any countries having a tropical coastline-- I have heard of stories from people visiting Bali, Java, Sumatra, Borneo, Srilanka-- in fact all of tropical Pacific and the Indian ocean, that is suggestive of this dish, or similar variants.
I tried it this weekend. I cannot emphasize on how simple this was!! No dishes to do even. Healthy to the point of being unreal. I mean how tasty can you make something without even cooking it. Just taking out the rawness, is how I would describe it.
Okay that said--lets get this show on the road ..shall we?


Prawn- 1 lb- chopped.
You can use crabmeat as well. But I have not tried it myself. But should be good.

2 husked coconut. Will generally look white on the outside. Do a google search if you are unsure.
If you cannot find an unhusked one, use a regular one. Should work great.

1.5 tbsf  crushed garlic. You can use garlic salt as well.If you did not like garlic you can also use 1 tbsf of ginger paste. Or can used a few basil leaves too. Will be wonderful as a flavor. Or you can use a bit of all of the above. I went with garlic because I adore it so much

1 big onion-- chopped

2 green chili pepper- sliced. Remove the seeds to get the flavor without the heat. Substitute with Jalapeno as well, if you want.

1.5 tbsf good quality brown mustard powder. Dijon mustard will work great too.

3.5 tbsf flaked coconut or coconut powder

2 tbsf olive oil or regular oil.
For extra flavor you may use mustard oil as well. But no pain if you don't have it or know where to get it from.

1/4th tsf of all spice.
If you do not have all spice just substitute with 2-3 cloves.

salt to taste

Now--drum-rolls please :)

Break the coconut. Here is how you can do it with, illustrations. We had so much fun breaking it. Its totally neat! Drain the water. And wait! do not throw it. Just drink it. Nothing is healthier than that. Its fantastically flavorful and full of vitamins and antioxidants. Just think of the great skin people from tropical countries have :)

Now, you have two coconuts halved. 4 pieces with spaces in the middle. The white stuff you will see is the flesh. It is scrapped and dried to give you coconut flakes/powders. This is going to be our cooking vessel! and medium. Heard about this one? :)

Mix the prawn, onion, garlic (or its substitution), mustard, coconut flakes or powders, chili pepper/ jalapeno and salt in a bowl (I told you we would need one). And distribute the mixture so that all of it fits into your four coconut containers. What a fun thing to say! Should be enough space. Heat the oil in a skillet and pop the allspice or cloves. Pour the oil, with the spice, over the prawns stuffed inside the coconut. Divide equally--don't be partial.
Take an Aluminum sheet and wrap the coconut halves carefully and completely. You want to seal in the vapor-- that flavorful vapor which will permeate through the whole mixture. That is the dish--that is the fun part-- that is what is so great about this.
Preheat you oven to 430F for 10 mins. Place the coconuts in a baking tray and bake at 430F for  15-18 minutes.

And, get the coconut out and unwrap the foils--- and breath! That is the first thing you do. Soak in the aroma-- that fresh aroma. This is your breif escape to the tropics. The rest will keep you there for sometime :)

Serve with Jasmine rice. I had it with Rose wine. I was so excited :)

Tell me-- have you had anything as healthy and pretty and exotic as this-- yet as simple as it gets. Except the breaking bit :)

Happy eating and healthy living!


NMOS said...

Wow, that looks and sounds great. I'm going to have to try that one. Thanks!

Anncoo said...

WOW, this looks so delicious :)

The Japanese Redneck said...

Very nice. It does look healthy and exotic. Delicious looking too!


Julie said...

That's one of the more interesting ways I've ever seen to cook something...nice!