One of nature’s most versatile products, the coconut plant is not only a wonderful ingredient used in many food and drink recipes, but it is also high in iron, magnesium, fibre and protein and plays a prominent role in gluten-free, soy-free and vegan diets.


As a source of antioxidants, eating coconut and drinking its water can boost immunity and fight diseases and, owing to their low-calorie and high fibre content it can help manage blood sugar levels for those suffering from diabetes.

In addition, coconut oil is used by millions of people worldwide for nourishing their hair and healing skin from scars, scabs, and wounds, as well as preventing dull skin. It’s no wonder then that a whole day is given over to celebrating World Coconut Day which takes place every year on September 2.

With all this in mind, here are some fabulous recipes from the chefs at Capsicum Culinary Studio, South Africa’s largest culinary school. The Coconut Ice was  easy peasy–cover in chocolate for further decadence.


Coconut Creamed Spinach



1 tbs oil

1 medium shallot, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

240g spinach leaves

1 cup full-fat coconut milk

2 tsp white wine vinegar

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg (optional)



Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic and cook until soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Gradually add the spinach, stirring until it wilts.

Gradually pour in the coconut milk and vinegar, bring to a simmer and cook until mixture thickens, 4 to 5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and a sprinkle with freshly ground nutmeg. Serve immediately.


Thai Coconut Chicken Soup



1½ cups cooked chicken, shredded

100g mushrooms, sliced

4 cups chicken stock

3 Thai lime leaves, fresh or dried, hand torn

1 small chilli, halved lengthwise

2 cloves garlic, crushed

Thumb size piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into chunks

1 lemongrass stalk, cracked open

400ml coconut milk

2 tablespoons fish sauce

1½ teaspoons sugar

Juice of 4 limes

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

¼ cup chopped fresh coriander leaves for garnish



Pour stock into a large pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add lime leaves, chilli garlic, ginger and lemongrass, then lower the heat to medium-low, cover and gently simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove lid and stir in the chicken, coconut milk, fish sauce, sugar and lime juice. Simmer to heat the chicken through, about 5 minutes. Remove the lemongrass, ginger pieces and lime leaves, Sprinkle with salt and pepper and garnish with the coriander before serving.


Coconut Fish Curry & Rice



250g white fish, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 lime, juiced

1 tsp ground turmeric

3 tbsp vegetable oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 tbsp grated ginger

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp chilli flakes

2 tbsp tomato purée

250g butternut, diced

200ml coconut milk

2 tbsp tamarind paste (optional)

small bunch of coriander, roughly chopped

cooked rice, to serve



Place the fish pieces into a large bowl and add ½ tsp salt and ground black pepper, half the lime juice and half the turmeric. Stir gently to combine. Set aside. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and cook the onion until softened, about 8-10 mins. Add the ginger, garlic, ½ tsp salt, the spices and remaining turmeric, and cook for 2 mins until fragrant. Stir in the tomato purée and cook for a further minute.  Place the butternut squash into a heatproof bowl with a little water, cover and microwave for 3 mins until tender. Tip into the pan with the onion and spices and stir to combine. Add the coconut milk, 180ml water, tamarind paste and simmer over a medium heat for 10-12 mins until thickened and fragrant. Add the marinated fish to the pan and cook for 4-6 mins until cooked through. Remove from the heat, stir in the remaining lime juice, scatter with the fresh coriander and serve immediately over cooked rice.

Coconut Pie



1 pie/tart base

4 large eggs

1 tbs all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon salt

350g sugar

113g unsalted butter melted

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 teaspoon coconut extract

180ml buttermilk

2½ cups flaked coconut



Preheat oven to 180°C. Whisk the eggs, then add in the flour and sugar and beat until smooth. Whisk in the melted butter, both extracts, salt and the buttermilk. Stir in 2 cups of the coconut. Place prepared pie shell on a rimmed baking sheet. Pour filling into pie and carefully place in oven. Cover the edges of the pie crust with strips of aluminium foil then bake for 40-45 minutes. After 25 minutes, remove the foil so the edges will brown. Cool completely before serving.

Coconut Ice



250g sweetened condensed milk

250g icing sugar, sifted, plus extra for dusting

200g desiccated coconut

red edible food colouring



Using a wooden spoon, mix together the condensed milk and icing sugar in a large bowl. It will get very stiff. Work the coconut into the mix until it’s well combined. Split the mix into two and knead a very small amount of food colouring into one half. Dust a board with icing sugar, then shape each half into a smooth rectangle and place one on top of the other. Roll with a rolling pin, re-shaping with your hands every couple of rolls, until you have a rectangle of two-tone coconut ice about 3cm thick. Transfer to a plate and leave uncovered for at least 3 hours or ideally overnight to set. Cut into squares with a sharp knife.

Chef’s note: Will keep for up to a month if stored in an airtight container.