Malayali’s best friend – The Coconut
What can a Malayali do without a Coconut? After all, it is the ‘Kera Vriksha’ of Kerala and some attribute the states name itself to the tree, but probably it is the other way round. Sept 2nd is world coconut day, did you all know that? And Tom Hanks made the nut popular all over again with his movie ‘Castaway’. ‘A coconut a day keeps the guy alive’ was what he proved.
I certainly cannot manage without coconuts. So I have been skirting places like
So what would a Malayali use it for? Chutney, Sambar, Curries and of course the ever famous Avial and Thoran. They all need varying amounts of coconut to be ground with the spices for that very special Kerala taste. Some put a few drops of coconut oil for flavor in the ‘ishtu’ or other curries. Some are more liberal adding large dollops of it. Unlike most reports, Malayali’s do not always apply coconut oil before take a bath (even women). After ‘Parachute’ started selling the oil in those characteristic blue plastic bottles (you can find it even in Amazon.com), it has been no problem getting a small medium or large sized bottle of this light oil in most places.
Coconut milk from
Mats, furniture, ropes, fencing, roofing come from the tree and can be found here and there. Table mats are more common place, especially Pier1 imports, but the full length sleeping mats of Kerala are no longer to be found. In
During our stay in
I used to wonder how the ‘goras’ and latino’s of
Look at the instructions provided by Rachel Rappaport – in her blogsite on the coconut opening method practiced in
And it was while thinking about the ambience of Kerala that I remembered ‘Mammad koya’ the dehusker who would come after all the coconuts were felled from trees and that nice huge pile was left by the contractors for the home use, when we lived in Calicut. He would come with his steel post/spike that was flat and sharp like a spear on top. He would plant the spike on the ground and proceed to take off the husk by striking the fruit on the spear and twisting away. Typically a coconut would be dehusked in about a minute. I would sit near him and watch, chewing on a bit of the sweet and splendid tasting coconut as Koya kept talking about this and that and the vagaries of life. Doing it with a Vettukathi or cleaver would take more effort and time as you would never get the leverage as with the dehusking post. Nowadays there are dehusking machines and of course there are even crazy people who do it with their teeth (saw some on youtube).
I am convinced that the palm oil lobby in Kerala killed the coconut oil industry. It is slowly making a come back, but I hope the coconut trees would not be gone before the business becomes profitable. This well researched article explains the debacle of the coconut industry and the actions of the ‘
Is coconut oil good for health? I know many people will argue vehemently with me (except my brother and mother in law since their very standard of living depends on the price of the coconut) on this, but today it is a weight reducing option and a regime to attack thyroid problems.
A 1995 study proved that it was not a reason for cardiovascular problems - A study was conducted on 64 volunteers and the findings were ...no statistically significant alteration in the serum total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol/total cholesterol ratio and LDL cholesterol/HDL cholesterol ratio of triglycerides from the baseline values... A beneficial effect of adding the coconut kernel to the diet was noted by these researchers. The whole story of how it got the bad image and what the actual tests and results were are provided in the same paper linked above and researched by Dr Mary Enig, an expert of international renown in the field of lipid biochemistry.
Brian Shilhavy concurs – So why has coconut oil gotten such a bad rap in the recent past? The answer is politics and economics. Coconut oil was heavily used in the
Or if you have all the time in the world – read this book Coconut Oil: For Health and Beauty By Cynthia Holzapfel, Laura Holzapfel
A very nice blog by Raji on Coconut tree climbing
Of all the coconut links, here are some funny ones
- It can even be used to rob a bank – see this funny report from
- It is used to fly planes; A Virgin Atlantic jumbo jet flew from
- Some bright guys offer a tour to show dehusking of coconuts amongst other events; the tour is called the Ayurveda tour!!
- It is used to remove tarnish from brasswork!
- Good for getting rid of head lice
- Popular Hawaiian bra
- Coconut vinegar – well I think it is actually old toddy.
Pulpaya photo courtesy Santosh, others from the web - Thanks
AM OFF ON A VACATION TO KERALA - BACK IN A FEW DAYS.....