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Updated: May 15, 2014 21:24 IST

Caught up with the coconut

Shanthini Rajkumar
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Coconut Panacotta
Special Arrangement
Coconut Panacotta

Make a light summer dessert with the versatile tender coconut

Coimbatore in the olden days was filled with coconut groves. Even today, as one travels down Avanashi Road, one can still see some of them, a silent reminder of the days gone by. The coconut being such an integral part of South Indian cuisine, many homes continue to have the trees in their backyard. As a foodie, I find it amazing how one tree can offer so many different flavours and textures. From the refreshing tender coconut water and the silky tender coconut flesh to the crunchy bite of the mature coconut and sweet creamy coconut milk. All of these tantalise the creative cook.

While I am not a big fan of heavy coconut gravies, fresh coconut is quite delicious. This is one ingredient that definitely helps make food palatable in the midst of summers, whether it is the light coconut rice, a simple coconut chutney or a tender coconut drink.

Recently, having indulged in a yoghurt pannacotta made to perfection by a dear friend, I knew that it was a dish that I wanted to experiment with. Since I had a batch of leftover coconut milk after making aapams for guests, I thought it was the perfect time to make a pannacotta using coconut milk and tender coconut. I did hesitate to mix yoghurt with coconut milk, but you never know until you try. So I did, and fortunately for me, it worked (I had not planned a back-up dessert)!

It was light, cool and the perfect combination of sweet with just a hint of yoghurt. I would love for you to try this recipe, it sets like a dream and is a constant reminder of summers, good times with friends and of course the tall giants swaying gently in the breeze.

Coconut milk pannacotta with tender coconut


2 1/2 tsp powdered gelatin

1 1/2 C + 2 Tbsp coconut milk

1/2 C sugar

zest of 1 lemon

2 C plain full fat yoghurt

1 C tender coconut slivers

1/2 C powdered pistachios mixed with 1 tsp of icing sugar


In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over half a cup of coconut milk and set aside for 10 minutes until well moistened.

Pour the remaining coconut milk into a pan, add lemon zest, sugar and stir over a gentle simmer until the sugar has dissolved.

Remove from heat and add the gelatin mixture and stir well for 3-5 minutes. This is crucial. Pour the mixture into a large bowl and let it cool.

Whisk in the yoghurt until well blended.

Transfer the mixture into small individual bowls, cover with cling film and refrigerate for about eight hours at least.

Top with slivers of tender coconut and powdered pistachios.

Serve outdoors, and enjoy every spoonful as you watch the coconut trees in the distance.

Read more on Shanthini’s website

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