thick milk

Coconut milk

Coconut milk is a sweet, milky white cooking base derived from the meat of a mature coconut. The color and rich taste of the milk can be attributed to the high oil content and sugars. In Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia coconut milk is called santan and in the Philippines it is called gata. And in Thailand it is called ga-ti and used in many of the Thai curries. It should not be confused with coconut water (coconut juice), which is the naturally-occurring liquid found inside a coconut.


Two grades of coconut milk exist: thick and thin. Thick coconut milk is prepared by directly squeezing grated coconut meat through cheesecloth. The squeezed coconut meat is then soaked in warm water and squeezed a second or third time for thin coconut milk. Thick milk is used mainly to make desserts and rich, dry sauces. Thin milk is used for soups and general cooking. This distinction is usually not made in western nations since fresh coconut milk is usually not produced, and most consumers buy coconut milk in cans. Manufacturers of canned coconut milk typically combine the thin and thick squeezes, with the addition of water as a filler.

Depending on the brand and age of the milk itself, a thicker, more paste-like consistency floats to the top of the can, and is sometimes separated and used in recipes that require coconut cream rather than coconut milk. Shaking the can prior to opening will even it out to a cream-like thickness. Some brands sold in western countries add thickening agents to prevent the milk from separating inside the can, since the separation tends to be misinterpreted as a sign of spoilage by people who have no experience with coconut milk.

Once opened, cans of coconut milk must be refrigerated, and are usually only good for a few days. Coconut milk should never be left at room temperature, as the milk can sour and spoil easily.

Coconut milk can be made at home by processing grated coconut with hot water or milk, which extracts the oil and aromatic compounds. It should not be confused with the coconut water discussed above, and has a fat content of approximately 17%. When refrigerated and left to set, coconut cream will rise to the top and separate out from the milk.


Coconut milk is a common ingredient in many tropical cuisines, most notably that of Southeast Asia (especially Filipino, Indonesian, Burmese, Cambodia, Malaysian, Singaporean, Sri Lankan, Thai), West African, Caribbean, and Polynesian cuisines. Frozen coconut milk tends to stay fresh longer, which is important in dishes in which the coconut flavor is not competing with curries and other spicy dishes.

Coconut milk is the base of most Thai curries. To make the curry sauce, the coconut milk is first cooked over fairly high heat to break down the milk and cream and allow the oil to separate. The curry paste is then added, as well as any other seasonings, meats, vegetables and garnishes.

Medicinal properties

The monolaurins in the coconut oil have been found to be very powerful antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal agents in Ayurveda. Some people believe that coconut milk can be used as a laxative. It is also used for healing mouth ulcers


In Rennell Island Solomon Islands local home-brew is made by fermenting coconut milk, yeast and sugar in a bin and leaving it hidden in the bush for about a week.

Plant growth usage

In 1943, Johannes "The Moobze" van Overbeek discovered that coconut milk actively encourages plant growth. This was later discovered to be due to a number of factors, but predominantly the existence in the milk of a cytokinin known as zeatin. The addition of 10% coconut milk to the substrate in which wheat is grown has shown substantial improvements in yield.



  • Various sweet dim sum dishes
  • Various sweet soups (tong sui)


Malaysian and Singaporean


Sri Lankan

  • Spicy chicken curry
  • Spicy beef curry
  • Spicy and non-spicy fish curry
  • Potato curry
  • Tomato sambol
  • Green bean curry
  • Coconut milk (Pol kiri) - a dish in itself, usually used for gravy with Pittu
  • Milk gravy (Kiri hodi) - Coconut milk with a dash of saffron and onion, usually used for gravy with String-hoppers

West Indian


  • Haupia (a gelatin-like pudding flavored with coconut milk)
  • Kulolo
  • Lu'au (taro leaves simmered in coconut milk)

Indian (Kerala)

  • Gothampu Payasam (Wheat Payasam)
  • Ada Prathaman
  • Parippu Prathaman
  • Mutton Stew
  • Kerala Curries
  • Molugootal (sometimes used in conjunction with fresh grated coconut to enhance flavour)
  • Paal-Aapam (sweetened coconut milk in the center of the Aapam for taste)

Indian (Goan and Konkani cuisine in Karnataka, and Maharashtra)

  • Almost all dishes have coconut milk and paste as its base (called as "Aapros" in Konkani)
    • Human (fish curry)
    • All vegetable and fish curries
    • Payasa, Mangane, Kheer
    • Coconut Rice

Indian (Northern)


  • Mucapata (Rice, White Beans, and Coconut Milk)
  • Matapa (Cassava Leaves, Peanuts, and Coconut Milk)


  • Adobo sa Gata (Meat sauteed in soy sauce, garlic, and pepper, thickened with coconut milk)
  • Ginata (Various entrees or desserts simmered in coconut milk)
    • Ginataang Bilo Bilo (Rice dumpling dessert)
    • Ginataang Tilapia (White fish in creamy coconut)
  • Gulaman at Sago (Tapioca with coconut milk)
  • Laing (Spicy taro dish seasoned with shrimp, pork, and ginger)
  • Pancit Butong (Coconut noodles)
  • Halo-halo (Shaved ice in coconut milk with sweet beans, ice cream, fruits, condensed milk, and other sundries)


  • Halawa (a snack made of sticky rice, butter, coconut milk, similar to Indian halwa)
  • Kyauk-kyaw (coconut jelly)
  • Mont let saung (tapioca balls, glutinous rice, grated coconut and toasted sesame with jaggery syrup in coconut milk)
  • Ohn-no hkauk-hswe (curried chicken and wheat noodles in a coconut milk broth)
  • Shwegyi mont (unsweet cake of semolina, coconut milk, and poppy seeds)
  • Ngyuenea hakushelat (coconut milk)


  • Cháo cá lóc nước cốt dừa
  • Chè đậu xanh nước cốt dừa
  • Thịt kho nước cốt dừa
  • Chuối rim mật nước cốt dừa
  • Ốc len xào dừa


Drinks using coconut milk as an ingredient include

See also


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