Friday, August 27, 2010
HOME MADE TENGAI ENNAI - HOME MADE COCONUT OIL
Two months prior to the arrival of a new born baby, our ancestral home always transformed into a mini factory which produced various baby products. Great grand mother, grand mother and mother were buzzing like busy bees, preparing coconut oil and herbal baby bath powder for the baby's massage, kan mai ( kajal, eye liner ) to keep the baby's eyes cool and protect them from infection , legiyam (a tonic made out of 72 select ingredients) and fresh ghee for the new mother. Roots and fruits were collected, sterilized, dried and stored for administering 'urai marundu' to the new born after theoil massage. Old dothies were laundered and cut out and stitched into soft and comfortable nappies. Old cotton sarees were converted into small quilts for swaddling the new baby. Garments worn by the previously born babies which was considered auspicious for a new born's first use, were brought down the attic for repair and wash. Aunts were busy knitting sweaters and booties.
My mother was overwhelmed with a flood of old memories when she visited us to see her Sydney born great grand daughter. She felt immensely sorry for the baby who did not have the opportunity to enjoy the luxury of all the traditional pampering. To satisfy my mother, and out of my own curiosity I decided to make coconut oil at home for the baby's massage as directed by my mother.
HOME MADE COCONUT OIL
Firstly, the selection of coconut is very important for extracting a thick and rich milk, which in turn would yield pure coconut oil. Big and ripe coconuts with thick kernels are favourable. Coconuts with dark coloured shells indicate that they are ripe.
Ripe coconuts - 6
1. Break the coconuts into neat halves and grate them on a clean surface.
1. Using a sharp knife disengage the coconut kernel from the shell and cut into small pieces.
2. Grind the coconut gratings or the pieces using a mixer grinder into a smooth paste, adding little water if required.
3. Pass the ground coconut paste through a sieve which has a fine mesh, and squeeze out the coconut milk by pressing with the back of a ladle. Squeezing with a clean hand will give the best results.
3. Filter the paste using a clean cloth , wringing it to express the coconut milk.
4. After extracting the milk, add a little more water to the coconut gratings to extract as much as milk as possible.
5. Pour the coconut milk into a heavy bottomed vessel and start heating.
6. As the coconut milk boils, the oil will start separating from the milk solids and form into small globules. Keep stirring so that the coconut milk solids do not settle down at the bottom of the vessel and get burnt.
7. After almost an hour the white colour of the milk solids will change into a chocolate brown colour and the pleasant aroma of fresh coconut oil will start filling the air. This is the stage where children like to hover around to taste the flavoursome brown solids which tastes sweet like coconut toffees.
8. Keep cooking for a few more minutes till the milk solids crumble and acquire the colour of dark chocolate which will settle down at the bottom of the vessel. Pure coconut oil will be clearly visible on top of the residue.
9. Decant or filter the honey coloured pure home made coconut oil and store in a dry and clean bottle. If the selected coconuts are ripe enough, 6 of them will yield about 200ml of pure coconut oil.
This oil is very good for a baby's body massage.
Dishes like Avial, Mor Kuzhambu or Koottu taste heavenly when garnished with 1/2 tsp of home made coconut oil.