Tuesday, March 22, 2011
It is a well known fact that certain scents trigger specific memories and the smell of coconut oil always takes me back to those Sunday mornings, to the easy rhythm of those days and to my mother's touch and love.
It was only when I got married that I discovered, very much to my chagrin, that coconut oil was a much loved cooking medium in my Tamilian husband's family - and all over South India. Seeing my MIL drizzle coconut oil over a bowl of avial, the only thought I had in my mind was "ewww...wonder whether this bottle has come from the bathroom!" I could barely push 'the food containing hair oil' down my throat that day.
But over a period of time, I fell in love with the taste of coconut oil. It has that 'je ne sais quoi' quality - something that I can't put my finger on, but I do know that there are certain dishes that don't taste quite the same if made without coconut oil.
Much maligned the world over for decades as being heart unfriendly, coconut oil seems to be winning new supporters in recent times as being heart healthy! Just a few days ago, I came across this article extolling the virtues of coconut oil. But in the entire article, this sentence caught my eye - "She also mixes virgin coconut oil in oatmeal for creaminess and flavor, uses it to sauté greens, and has successfully played around with it in brownies and banana bread."
Now, the only way I've used coconut oil is in making some curries and stir - fried veggies . But coconut oil in baking? In brownies and banana bread? My curiosity was piqued.
Somehow, coconut oil in banana bread made some sense to me - both bananas and coconuts being tropical fruits and all that and I decided to experiment with coconut oil the next time I made banana bread.
Mashed bananas: 1 cup (ideally, the bananas should be over-ripe)
Sugar: 3/4 cup
Baking soda: 1- 1/4tsp
Grated coconut - 1/4 cup, optional
Coconut oil: 1/4 cup (you could also use any vegetable oil of your choice)
All purpose flour: 1 cup
Whole wheat pastry flour: 1/2 cup (if you don't have whole wheat flour, just use 1- 1/2 cups of all purpose flour)
Baking powder: 1- 1/2 tsp
Cinnamon powder: 1/2 tsp, optional
Salt: 1/4 tsp
Walnuts: 1/4 cup, chopped
Whisk the flours with the baking powder, cinnamon powder and salt.
Beat the egg and sugar together till fluffy and pale lemony in colour. Then fold in the mashed bananas and the grated coconut. Sprinkle the baking soda over this mixture and fold it in.
Then add the coconut oil in a thin trickle and mix it well into the batter. Finally, fold in the flour in 3 additions and after which mix in the chopped walnuts.
Pre-heat the oven to 180 deg C or 350 deg F. Pour the batter into a greased medium sized loaf pan (I used an oval cake pan as my loaf pan is too large) and bake for about 45 mins or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Once the bread was in the oven and baking, I was overcome with a lot of anxiety. What if the coconut oil ruined the bread?
However, any skepticism I had about using coconut oil in the banana bread was gone with the first whiff of the banana bread as it came out of the oven. It was one very aromatic loaf. Nutty notes from the coconut oil, sweet scent of the ripe bananas and a slight hint of cinnamon. Very aromatic indeed. And the taste - oh the taste! The coconut oil imparts a very delicate flavour to the banana bread - one that lingers on on the palate and almost haunts the taste-buds making you reach out for another slice and another and another. So go ahead and try coconut oil in your bakes, you won't be disappointed!
It is not just about the ingredients or the recipe, good food happens when it is served with love!!