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Take Your Curry from Blah to Yes! Here’s Why You Need Coconut Milk

Take Your Curry from Blah to Yes! Here’s Why You Need Coconut Milk

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Curry is a popular Asian dish bursting with umami goodness. But guess what can make it extra flavorful and have you coming back for seconds? Coconut milk!

Coconut milk is the secret to creamy, mouthwatering curry. You can buy it canned, creamed, or even in a plastic container.

So, here’s why you should use coconut milk in curry and how to use it.

What Is Coconut Milk?

Coconut milk is a thick, creamy extract from the white flesh of mature coconuts. Traditionally, you can get it by grating coconut meat, mixing it with plain or coconut water, and straining the cream through a cheesecloth or a fine sieve.

You can squeeze the coconut pulp a second time for a thinner milk. Remember that the thicker the coconut milk, the more fat it contains.

Freshly squeezed coconut milk has unmatched flavor but takes time and work. Luckily, you can grab it ready-to-use in cans, cartons, or even as powder (desiccated coconut milk).

Canned coconut milk is creamy enough to substitute for dairy milk. It’s perfect for cooking and adding velvety texture to dishes like curries, soups, and sauces.

The boxed or bottled kind is more for sipping or pouring over your morning cereal. When making curry, it’s best to stick to canned coconut milk.

Why Is it Used in Curry?

Chicken Curry

When creating that perfect curry, water alone can’t compete with the wonders of coconut milk.

Authentic curry just doesn’t taste the same without it. You’ll find this ingredient in pretty much every traditional curry recipe for a reason—it enhances the flavors and textures in a way that’s hard to replicate.

Coconut milk adds a delightful creaminess and a subtle nutty sweetness to curry. It helps mellow any fiery heat from the chili peppers or curry paste.

Plus, the coconut milk’s fat distributes the bold, spicy taste evenly throughout the dish, making each bite a flavor explosion!

What Are the Benefits of Coconut Milk in Curry?

Can Of Coconut Milk

Coconut milk isn’t just a tasty addition to curry; it’s packed with nutrients, too!

First, it’s loaded with essential vitamins and minerals like iron, calcium, and magnesium. It has phenolic compounds that provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action, keeping you healthy inside and out.

Coconut milk also contains lauric acid, an antiseptic compound that can fight infections and enhance the effects of antibiotics. Besides, coconut milk is gut-friendly, thanks to its zinc content that supports cell renewal in the intestinal walls.

Additionally, coconut milk helps with weight loss and prevents heart disease. Research suggests that it contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), a dietary fat that can make you feel full for longer.

So, next time you’re enjoying a bowl of coconut milk curry, know you’re also treating your body to some fantastic benefits!

Tips When Using Coconut Milk in Curry

Consider these tips when cooking coconut milk curry:

  • Coconut milk is already sweet, so avoid anything with added sweeteners. Use the unsweetened version to avoid altering the taste of your curry.
  • Choose coconut milk with at least 40% coconut extract for a rich, creamy curry.
  • Check the fat and calorie content on the label to determine the richness of coconut milk. Higher fat and calorie levels mean creamier coconut milk.
  • Shake the can of coconut milk before using to mix the cream and water evenly.
  • Ensure coconut milk is at room temperature before adding it to your curry.
  • Do not confuse canned coconut milk for coconut cream or sweetened condensed coconut milk, which contains milk and sugar.
  • Stir your curry constantly to prevent the coconut milk from separating or curdling.
  • Add water or broth if you find the coconut milk taste overpowering.
  • Look for coconut milk brands with minimal ingredients. Steer clear of those with added stabilizers or thickeners.
  • Freeze leftover coconut milk in plastic freezer bags or any airtight container.

How to Use Coconut Milk in Curry

Brown Sugar

Now that you’re all caught up in the wonders of coconut milk, it’s time to whip up coconut curry on your own.

  1. Gather your ingredients: coconut or olive oil, yellow onion, boneless skinless chicken, garlic, ginger, coriander, coconut milk, shredded carrots, curry powder or paste, salt, pepper, spinach, lime juice, brown sugar, and cilantro.
  2. Heat oil in a pan or skillet. Add diced onions and cook until translucent. Add your chicken cut into cubes and cook until evenly browned on all sides.
  3. Toss in the garlic, ginger, and coriander and stir well. Add coconut milk, carrots, and curry paste, then season with salt and pepper.
  4. Reduce the heat and let the mixture simmer—the soup base should start to thicken.
  5. Add lime juice, spinach, brown sugar, and any extra spices you think will give your dish that zing.
  6. Enjoy your coconut curry with rice, topped with cilantro and lime wedges.

You can store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week, or freeze for longer storage.

If you’re in a pinch, here’s a quick recipe with just five ingredients and comes together in minutes. You’ll need one can of coconut milk, veggies of choice, chickpeas, 2 tablespoons of red curry paste, and cornstarch.

  1. Sauté broccoli in hot coconut oil.
  2. Add coconut milk and red curry paste, whisking until combined.
  3. Stir in chickpeas and bring the mixture to a boil.
  4. Add cornstarch to thicken the sauce, then simmer until creamy enough for your liking.
  5. Serve your quick coconut curry with rice or enjoy it on its own!

Frequently Asked Questions

Do You Really Need Coconut Milk for Curry?

Yes, coconut milk is a must-have ingredient if you’re after a full-flavored curry experience. But if you want a milder taste with a bit more heat and zero creaminess, use water instead.

What Coconut Milk Do You Use in Curry?

The fat in coconut milk gives it that creamy texture and rich flavor. So, when aiming for a lusciously creamy dish, it’s best to use full-fat coconut milk.

For a healthier version, go for a lighter coconut milk brand with low-fat content.

Will Coconut Milk Make Curry Thicker?

Yes, coconut milk can thicken up your curry. Its natural creaminess adds body and texture to the sauce, making it richer and more satisfying. It’ll thicken even more the longer it simmers.

When to Add Coconut Milk to Curry

You should pour coconut milk after your meat has browned on the sides and the spices are fully incorporated. Crank up the heat until it’s bubbling, then dial it down to medium and let it simmer for 10–15 minutes.

Keep an eye on it—you want it to just start thickening. I usually go for 10 minutes, but if you want an extra thick sauce, leave it a bit longer on the stove.

How Do You Add Coconut Milk to Curry Without Curdling?

Avoid adding cold coconut milk to your curry. Instead, slowly pour room-temperature coconut milk while stirring continuously.

After adding the coconut milk, keep the lid off, and don’t boil the curry vigorously.

Final Thoughts

There are many delicious and healthy reasons to use coconut milk in curry. Coconut milk provides a rich, subtly sweet soup base to your curry, elevating it to a whole level of yumminess!

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