#9 A Coconut Story And a Surprising Bhaji

Let’s talk about coconut! the whole of South Goa is filled with coconut trees, they grow tall and strong and are always full and heavy with coconuts, to a point that sometimes you need to duck if you hear a fall, that might not end well.

Saying that, Coconuts mean life for the local Indian community and i can totally get why.

The tall trees provide shade from the strong sun and they drink the water to stay hydrated.

They eat the flesh of the fresh coconut, dry some them up and grind the coconut which they use this for almost every dish they make, sweets, savory and more.

The locals create their own coconut oil which they use to cook, put on the hair and on the body.

The coconut shell is used for lighting fire to heat water and the coconut leaves provide shelter for the homes.

So how amazing is the coconut? we have 5 trees around our house and this week we had Fondo the coconut tree climber come around to pick the coconuts that are ready to eat, he is 58 years old and is a jungle man, he climbs about 20-30 trees a day! and is very busy with work.

Apparently it’s a special trade and not many people know how to climb the long tall tree, watching him work i understand why, he uses a special rope around his feet and then grasps the tree with his toes climbing gracefully up the tree.

He works very hard!

When Fondo finished picking i got a fresh coconut and drank the water, it was so sweet and fresh, and i tried the coconut flesh with a small spoon that Fondo curved out of the coconut shell.

The next day, Madhuri my neighbor showed me a flower of the coconut that fell off the tree, it would have grown lots of coconuts and that made her sad to know that so many coconuts didn’t make it.

As i go on and on about coconuts i think it’s only fair to share my next recipe, i discovered it when Madhuri’s mother brought me a taste and i thought i had never tasted such an amazing yet simple Bhaji so i had to try it myself.

The recipe uses fresh grated coconut but if you can’t find some use dried coconut, although when living in London i used to buy it from the fridge in the Indian stores so it can be found.

the biggest surprise is the usage of a whole bunch of Dill. Now, i used Dill in the past but more as an extra or a garnish never as a base for a whole veg dish. The coconut in the end really gives the dish it’s final sweetness and taste.

I give you The Surprising Bhaji, when i made the dish i used Palak (Spinach) and i also made it with Pumpkin leaves so really you could try with any green leave veg but dont mix them up!

What you will need

  • 2 x TBSP coconut oil
  • A whole big fresh bunch of Dill or Spinach or Chard
  • 1 x Cup of red lentils soaked in water for 30 minutes
  • 2 x Chopped onions
  • 1 X Green chilli chopped with no seeds (or keep them if you want it extra HOT)
  • 1/2 Cup of water
  • 1/2 Cup of grated coconut
  • 1 x Tsp salt

Let’s Get Started

  • Chop the onions and green chilli into small pieces
  • In a heavy pan place the oil and add the onions and chilli, stir for a few moments until onions turn brown

  • Chop the dill (or any green veg) and add to the pan
  • Add lentils, coconut, water and salt and bring to the boil, then lower the heat

  • Cook covered for about 10 minutes, if needed add a bit more water stir every so often
  • The dish is ready when the lentils are soft

  • Serve warm with rice