India // Coconuts in Kerala

Sitting having breakfast I watched a man scale a tree bare foot wearing only a doti and carrying a huge machete. I soon realised when I heard him shout down to those below him that he was cutting down the coconuts. Kerala means "land of the coconuts" in Malayalam, the regions language and with the vast amount of coconuts they grow no name could be more fitting.

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Coconuts (especially oil) has been the latest health craze especially with its many uses from cooking to oil pulling. Well I have to say I think India has beaten us on making sure they use every part of the coconut in one way or another. The coconut palm is a widely versatile tree crop, providing healthy nutritious drinks, oil for edible and non edible uses, fibre and shell for industrial and commercial use plus an alcoholic drink.

Firstly the fresh coconut water here is delicious and rerred hung. Drinking straight from the coconut after a morning yoga session whilst walking along the beach, what could be more idyllic? And the best thing is it will only cost you 30 rupees (30p) rather than £3.99 for a small carton! Not only do you drink the water but you can enjoy some fresh coconut meat for breakfast..... Perfect!!

Drinking coconuts on the backwaters

Drinking coconuts on the backwaters ?

Fresh coconut meat

Fresh coconut meat

The older brown coconuts are then used for coconut milk, adding to veg for a delicious curry. Or another way to cook with it is to add the fresh meat to make a masala paste. I learnt a few recipes from Lilus home cooking class in Fort Cochin. Coconuts can also be turned into an alcoholic drink known to everyone as "Toddy" (palm wine). The water is tapped from the tree and left to ferment with sugar and yeast. Locals drink the Toddy but once it has fermented it becomes a vinegar type liquid whigh is used in cooking, adding to appam batter to make a pancake like dish.

Toddy tapper collecting from the coconut tree

Toddy tapper collecting from the coconut tree

Delicious Avil using fresh coconut. Recipe from Lilus in Fort Cochin

Delicious Avil using fresh coconut. Recipe from Lilus in Fort Cochin

Coconut oil is used in every household here for both cooking and beauty purposes. It's great to cook with as it can withstand high temperatures whilst giving a delicious flavour. And as far as a beauty product goes it has endless uses from conditioner or moisturiser to shaving cream and oil pulling.

Not only are the inner products of the coconut used - the water, milk, meat and oil but the outer husks are dried and used for a number of things. A few things I saw along the way were bird feeders for the garden, shredding the husk to make rope for hand made back water boats, door mats, brushes, charcoal and fire wood.

Coconut palm used to make a shop or fisherman so houses along the beach

Coconut palm used to make a shop or fisherman so houses along the beach

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Coconut bird feeders

There are endless uses of coconuts and I have only managed to name a few but it is great to see a product used in so many different ways. So now you all know where most off your coconut products all come from. All this talk of coconuts I'm off to grab one before catching an overnight train!!

Love and light
Iona x

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