Uses of Coconut Oil in Cooking
There has always been a quest among those dedicated housewives for the perfect cooking oil, which is healthy, stable, does not go rancid and at the same time, will be light on pocket. People in the coastal areas of Asia, particularly in Southern India and Philippines, have got the answer to this quite early. For centuries, they have been using coconut oil in cooking and have been reaping its benefits. Usage of coconut oil never bothered nor had adverse effects on the people using it.
We have common notion that coconut oil is used only for hair care or skin care and that coconut oil is not cooking oil. However, you will be surprised to know that coconut oil is extensively used in cooking in coastal tropical regions, where coconut is grown in abundance.
It was in the sixties and seventies, when some researches tried to prove that saturated fats were dreaded villains and should be avoided as far as possible. This made some turn their faces away from coconut oil. But, once again the usage of coconut oil is gaining popularity as cooking oil. Let us know why.
Health benefits of coconut oil
Recent researches show that not all saturated fats are bad for health and coconut oil is one of them. Some saturated fats may increase the level of cholesterol in the blood, and even if they do, this cholesterol need not always be the Bad Cholesterol.
Let me explain this in a bit detail. There are two types of cholesterol, namely, High Density Lipoproteins or Good Cholesterol and Low Density Lipoproteins or Bad Cholesterol. While the Bad Cholesterol (LDL) gets deposited in the inner walls of arteries and poses a threat for heart (in extreme cases, it can give heart attacks), the Good Cholesterol (HDL) does just the opposite. It helps lower the level of Bad Cholesterol, provides energy and nutrition to cells and benefits the body in other ways too.
You will be delighted to know that coconut oil has some saturated fatty acids like Capric Acid and Lauric Acid that raise the level of High Density Lipoproteins in the body, lowers Bad Cholesterol, boost immunity and fight ageing. They also increase the rate of metabolism and thus help shed weight. Isn’t it amazing? Oil that helps lose weight!
Please note that our bodies react different to different food items. So for some people, the cholesterol levels may increase on consumption of coconut oil. Therefore, if you are planning to start using coconut oil in order to lose weight, do check your cholesterol levels regularly.
Good to taste and cook: Apart from the health aspect there is another important aspect “Taste”. So there is good news here as well! The sweet, earthly and yet refreshing scent of coconut oil and its fabulous taste makes it an ideal cooking medium. One may use it for shallow or deep frying and enjoy the aroma. In southern India and other coastal regions coconut oil is used for cooking both vegetarian and non vegetarian recipes.
Edible coconut oil: Coconut oil is used across industries and hair and skin care is one of them. It is very important to know that edible coconut oil is different from the oil used for skin and hair and hence it should be bought carefully. Edible coconut oil are available in different types- Refined grade/unrefined grade. One may choose any of these for day to day cooking.
Easy storage and longer shelf life: Coconut oil which is solid at room temperature can be stored easily for a longer duration. This is due to lack of polyunsaturated fats in coconut oil which helps in slower rate of rancidification. Rancidification results into bad taste and makes the oil unsuitable for usage. This process is faster in case of unsaturated oils.
Price effective: Finally, the financial aspect! The regular pure edible grade coconut oil (generally it is refined, bleached and deodorized) is not that costly (at least when compared to olive oil). And since it is very dense and stable, cooking with coconut oil requires less oil. Thus it also saves your money.
Coconut oil recipes
There are some simple recipes that can be cooked using coconut oil. You can also add coconut oil in the preparation of sweets and desserts.
Take the beaten eggs in a bowl and add onion, tomato and other spices. Mix well. Heat a pan and add 1 tbsp coconut oil. Once hot add the egg mixture and cook both the sides till done. Serve hot with toasted bread, salad and ketchup.
Ingredients: 2 medium size clean cut fish of your choice, salt and pepper to taste, 2 tsp lime juice, turmeric powder to taste, coconut oil for shallow frying
Take the cut fish in a bowl and add salt pepper lime juice and turmeric powder. Keep the marinade aside for 20 mins. Later shallow fry fish in coconut oil. One can also coat the fish in egg white/semolina for crispy taste before shallow frying. Serve hot as a snack or side dish. Note: one may add ginger garlic paste and red chilly powder in marinade for spicy taste.
Indian vegetable curry
Heat a pan, add oil, cumin seeds, onion and fry till golden. Add tomato and cook till softened. Add the vegetables and add spices. Add some water to the pan. One can either make dry or semi dry gravy. Cover and cook till vegetables are cooked. Garnish with grated coconut. Serve hot with Indian bread- roti/Puri or rice.
Coconut oil has a strong aroma and taste which one may not have tried earlier, so it may happen that some of the users may not appreciate the taste and flavor of food cooked in coconut oil
Fed up with my lectures? Want to try some coconut oil in cooking instead? Well said! Go ahead and have a nice time munching.
Sources of Information:
Reports of Coconut Development Board of India,
Reports of KERAFED.
Text books of various courses of agriculture.
Various other reports on internet.