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Coconut milk (Recipe: egg curry) {vegetarian, gluten-free}


Brother bought a coconut, he bought it for a dime
His sister had another one, she paid it for the lime

She put the lime in the coconut, she drank 'em both up
She put the lime in the coconut, she drank 'em both up
She put the lime in the coconut, she drank 'em both up
Put the lime in the coconut, she called the doctor, woke him up, and said

Doctor, ain't there nothin' I can take, I said
Doctor, to relieve this bellyache, I said...

Oops, don't know the tune? Here goes...

Where I live, neither coconuts nor limes grow on trees (we specialize in pine cones!), but there's always a can of coconut milk in my pantry.

In order to understand where coconut milk comes from, think about the life cycle of a coconut. On the tree, young coconuts are green, often the size and shape of bowling balls. At this stage, the flesh is somewhat soft, and the liquid inside is sweet. When you find ice cold coconuts for sale at street markets in Trinidad or Singapore, you'll be getting one of these green coconuts, with the top sliced off and a straw stuck in to get at the coconut water inside. The flesh (meat) is gelatinous, the consistency of pudding.

When the coconut matures to the "hairy brown rock-hard stage," the meat inside also solidifies, and the coconut water turns bitter.

So, what we know as coconut milk actually is not the liquid found inside the coconut. Coconut milk is made by grating the solidified coconut meat, squeezing it to extract the liquid, and thinning the liquid with water -- which is then called coconut milk. Confusing, I know.

While canned coconut milk is a wonderful ingredient in dishes from India, The Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand, it does present nutritional challenges. Relatively low in carbs, it is unfortunately quite high in saturated fat and calories (450 per cup).

Enjoy coconut milk in moderation. Enjoy Harry Nilsson's coconut song over and over again. And have a happy and fun Thanksgiving. 

Egg curry

How could I resist sharing a recipe that includes both coconut milk and lime?! Slightly adapted from The Great Curries of India, by Camellia Panjabi, this curry comes from the Chettinad region and serves 2-3.


6 large eggs, hardboiled
3 tsp ground coriander
1-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper or paprika
1 tsp fennel seed
1 tsp cumin seed
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 x 1/4 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled
2 large cloves of garlic
2 Tbsp vegetable or canola oil
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seed
2-inch cinnamon stick
8 oz onions, finely chopped
8 oz tomatoes (fresh or canned), finely chopped
Kosher salt
7 oz canned coconut milk
Juice of 1/2 lime


Peel the eggs and halve them lengthwise. Set aside.

In a blender, put the coriander, cayenne or paprika, 1 tsp fennel seed, cumin seed, turmeric, ginger and garlic. Add 2 Tbsp water and blend to a thick paste.

Heat the oil in a deep sauté pan or small Dutch oven. Fry the fenugreek seeds, 1/2 tsp fennel seeds and cinnamon stick for 10 seconds. Add the onion, and sauté until lightly colored. Add the spice paste and continue cooking for 7 minutes; it will darken in color from the coriander, but do not overcook. Add a few drops of water if the onions stick to the pan. Then, add the tomatoes, and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Add 3 cups of water with salt to taste, and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes, to make a smooth gravy. Just before serving, add the coconut milk and bring to the boil. Add the lime juice, taste, and add more salt if necessary. Gently place the hardboiled eggs, yolks facing up, into the sauce. Place in a serving dish, and serve with brown or white basmati or jasmine rice.

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:

Thai tofu and winter squash stew
Punjab five jewels
Pineapple shrimp curry
Prawn fried rice
Coconut flan


DidlogoblogThis just in: Jenna has organized a lunchtime Drop In & Decorate event at her workplace in mid-December; the cookies will be donated to the TIMES Center in Champaign, IL, providing transitional housing and hot meals daily for up to 70 adult men.

Planning a Drop In & Decorate event? Please let me know (lydia AT ninecooks DOT com) so we can share the fun.

To learn more about Drop In & Decorate Cookies for Donation, including how to host your own party, visit www.ninecooks.com; then stop in at A Veggie Venture, 37 Days, Culinary Types, Nikas Culinaria, Homesick Texan, Food Blogga, The Inadvertent Gardener, Jaden's Steamy Kitchen, La Mia Cucina, One Hot Stove, The Cooking Adventures of Chef Paz, French Kitchen in America, Veronica's Test Kitchen, Kelly the Culinarian, shawnkenney.com, Thyme for Cooking: The Blog, Chew on That, Nook & Pantry, Cookthink, Tea & Cookies, Mele Cotte, Cream Puffs in Venice, startcooking.com, Shazam in the Kitchen, The Family Quilt, The Daily Tiffin, Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy, The Budget Bambino and What's for Lunch, Honey?

Thank you, Slashfood and BlogHer. Thank you, Chow.com and Goodyblog and Woman's Day.

"The families were thrilled with extraordinarily beautiful cookies, and your gift helped brighten their lives during a very difficult time." Crossroads Rhode Island Family Center


Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


I will admit I am slightly afraid of hardboiled eggs as a mail dish. Sounds very interesting though.

I have never met an egg curry that I did not love :D
My parents have two coconut trees in their little garden (one in the front yard, one in the back yard), but I admit that I don't mind the convenience of canned coconut milk at all.
Love that song!

It's 6am and I'm sitting here in my bath robe laughing hard and singing "Put the Lime in the Coconut." I'm also dreaming of enjoying this curry with eggs from Stamp Farm in Johnston where they are just hours old when you buy them. YUM. Who needs turkey.

A perfect selection for this day of thanks that may result in more than a few bellyaches. Cracked me up and Matt thought I was just trying to compete with his morning radio selection.

Lydia, I love making egg curry with coconut milk too. As a matter of fact I have that lined up for my next Bollywood Cooking session. My mum prefers to make it without but I think it adds a wonderful flavor! Nice one!

Coconut milk is very much used here, Lydia, specially in the North East of Brazil.
I haven't cooked with it in ages! We use it in both sweet and savory dishes.

Too funny!! I am going to have that song in my head all day! The egg curry sounds really interesting. Happy Thanksgiving, Lydia!

Funny clip! and coconut and limes are so often paried together!

Happy Thanksgiving =)

Thank you...Now I have an ear worm...
He put the lime in the coconut......
Happy Thanksgiving!

Coconut milk is such a wonderful ingredient. I love your egg curry, too. Sound so wonderful with some steamed rice.

Peabody, no need to fear the eggs! It's really the delicious sauce that makes this dish.

Nupur, home-grown coconuts -- what a treat! Do you chill the green ones and drink the coconut water? We used to get those in Trinidad and really enjoyed it.

Cindy, how can you not laugh at the Muppets?! And doesn't Stamp Farm have the best eggs?

Mary, this post got me thinking about Indian food for next Thanksgiving. And the song just keeps playing in my head....

Meeta, I think the coconut milk adds a lovely richness, but I've never tried egg curry without it. Sounds delicious.

Patricia, what kinds of wonderful dishes do you make with coconut milk in Brazil? Please share some links if you've posted.

TW, the song is infectious, no doubt about it. Hope you are enjoying a happy Thanksgiving, too.

Kelly-Jane, thank you. I figured the Muppets were universal.

Katie, me too, can't stop singing....

Anh, I do love coconut milk in stews and curries. Adds such flavor and depth.

Lydia, this post reminds me of the coconuts my father would bring home. He would share the milk with me and it was the sweetest thing on earth. I have not thought about this for years. Thanks for jogging my memory.

Yes I do know the tune, thank you very much. They call them "earworms," you know -- those pesky tunes that burrow in to your brain and live there for days.

I use light coconut milk and can't really tell any difference. Any idea what they do to make it "light?"

WOW!! Congratulations!! Woman's Day!!GREAT!

Luv,luv egg curry. but never made it with coconut milk - I truly think I will like this version better!

Yes, coconut milk truly adds a lovely flavour and there is nothing like squeezing fresh coconut milk from freshly grated coconut. Like you said though , we try to avoid using it too much and substitute fresh milk sometimes. You dont get such a nice flavour but at least its healthier. But every once in a while, its Lovely!!!

Hi Lydia,
Cute song. Coconuts and limes do grow on trees where I grew up. I don't use much coconut milk due to the reasons you mentioned. When I do, unfortunately, I am a coconut milk snob, so I can only use fresh coconut milk.

This recipe sounds wonderfully fragrant.

It's great to see the terrific response for the Drop In & Decorate event.

Mimi, that is yet another lovely memory of your father. Thank you for sharing it here.

Christine, that's a great question, and I'm not sure I found a definitive answer. It seems that "light" coconut milk is just watered down coconut milk, in some cases with flour added to thicken the watered-down product. You can make a reasonable substitute: 1 cup low-fat milk + 1/4 tsp coconut extract = 1 cup light coconut milk.

Pauline, thank you.

Veron, the coconut milk will just give the sauce a bit of richness. Maybe try your original recipe, and substitute a couple of tablespoons of coconut milk to start?

Dharm, I love the idea of using milk, but then adding a drop or two of coconut extract. You don't get the sat fat calories, but you still get the coconut flavor.

Nora, fresh coconut milk of course sounds luxurious to those of us who don't live in coconut-growing climates! And yes, I'm so excited about how the Drop In & Decorate concept is spreading!

I love love egg curry. C

anned coconut milk is so convenient. I remember when I was really young, the only way to get coconut milk was to get to the local grocery store and have the store owner grate /"juice" the coconut right in front of you!

Tigerfish, how wonderful to grow up with fresh grated coconut juice at the local market!

I've never had egg curry, but now I must! All those flavors are right up my alley.

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