Monday, April 05, 2010

Tender Coconut Ice Cream

It was the 1980s and while the world around me was dealing with serious matters of oil spills, assassinations, industrial catastrophes, and falling walls, I was sedately making my way through primary and secondary school. The highlight of the school year was the summer break when we took the overnight train to Bombay and visited our grandmother, aunt and uncle for several weeks.

I was unaware of the terminology then, but my aunt and I were devoted foodies, and she spent a great deal of time treating me to all the good eats of that megacity. We would track down the newest bakery in town for its flaky biscuits and try all the "specials" listed on the chalkboard of our local Udipi restaurant, where all the waiters knew us and greeted us with big smiles. We would rifle through our closets for our most posh-looking frocks so we could go to the Taj coffee shop and splurge on pastries.

In the mid-80s, we took a short autorickshaw-ride from my aunt's home to the swanky neighborhood of Juhu to visit a brand new ice cream store called Naturals. The unique selling point of this store was that they would use all-natural fruit pulp to make decadent ice cream; none of the bright pink "strawberry" and bright green "pistachio" flavors here. And that's where I tasted something called Tender Coconut Ice Cream. The subtle and ethereal taste of young silky coconut wrapped in cream. It rocked my little world. Soon, my aunt and I were on such intimate terms with this particular flavor of ice cream that we just called it "TC".  I don't even want to stop and think about how much TC we consumed over the ensuing years; I am sure some of it is sitting on my hips to this day. Today, Naturals is an extremely successful brand with a gazillion stores in Bombay and neighboring cities, but remember, Naturals, we were the ones who loved you first even before you were famous!

Well, I don't have access to Naturals or TC any more where I live. On my last trip to India in June '09, Nandita made me almost weep with joy when she pulled out two flavors of Naturals ice cream from her freezer for dessert after the fantastic meal she made for us. She gave me a choice of tender coconut and mango and I admit that I ignored my good upbringing ("never be greedy") and said I would have both.

The point of telling you all this is so you can imagine my surprise and joy when I spotted a recipe for tender coconut ice cream a few weeks ago. Not just any recipe but one that calls for no cooking and can be made in a couple of minutes. Not just any recipe but one that calls for ingredients that are easily available where I live. Not just any recipe but one that was tried and blogged by that genius of a cook named Meera of Enjoy Indian Food.

Mix contents of 4 cans together and freeze, that's all there is to it.

Tender Coconut Ice Cream (Just Like Naturals)!!!

(adapted from Meera's recipe)

1. You need 1 can each of sweetened condensed milk (low-fat OK), evaporated milk (low-fat OK), coconut milk (reduced fat OK use the real thing) and tender coconut/ young coconut meat in syrup, which is sold by Thai companies in Asian/Thai/international grocery stores.

2. In a bowl, mix together the coconut milk, condensed milk and evaporated milk. Freeze the mixture in an ice cream machine.

3. Drain and discard all the syrup from the can of tender coconut. Chop the coconut meat into small bits. In the last 5 minutes of churning, add chopped tender coconut to the mixture. Freeze, then serve.

I happened to use an ice cream machine because I've borrowed one from my neighbor for a few days. I think it would be fine to just mix the components and freeze them in a bowl, beating it a few times during the freezing process to break up the ice crystals and aerate the mixture.

Even with all the canned ingredients, this ice cream was divine and very very similar to the TC of my memories. If you have access to fresh thick coconut milk, it would be even more incredible. We shared the ice cream with friends and everyone unanimously loved it. Thanks for a keeper recipe, Meera! You made a girl very very happy.

It is a very rich ice cream as you can imagine but this quantity is enough for 10-12 servings in my estimation. A little certainly goes a long way.

By being able to recreate a favorite store-bought treat in my own kitchen with the help of a fellow blogger's recipe, this post is an entry for Blog Bites: the Copcat edition hosted right here on this blog.

*** *** ***

Here's a short video of Dale talking with Tony and getting treats on demand:

Wherever in the world you live, I hope you have a fantastic week; I will be back in 2-3 days with a sweet refreshing beverage.


  1. Wowee Nupur! I can take this sweet torture any more. I might just buy an ice cream maker soon.

  2. I should look out for the tender coconut pulp next time i go to asian shop. Ice cream looks so so smooth.
    Yeah i would also ask for both the flavours. How can one choose between mango and coconut :-)

  3. Natural's coconut icecream is just ambrosia! Yours looks heavenly too! :)

    Am cooking sugar-free and many-other-things-free this month and all these desserts are just killing me! :)

    Thanks for pointing us to this recipe. Will definitely give it a shot as soon as possible! Have a great week!

  4. Oh I remember Naturals! Initially they had just 1 branch, Juhu and that was farfor us.. it was an occasional treat. I was overjoyed when they opened a branch in new bombay! I LOOOOOOVED the TC, sitaphal and Mango flavors! Gimme Naturals over B&R anyday!
    DALE, u are my hero! Nupur, please, please make small videos like this a part of the blog, just like pictures. What a treat to see Dale in action :D
    Wooooof! and a BIG HUG to u Dale!

  5. Such happiness! Same story here with aunt...except in Andheri in 1995 :)

  6. This post is such a teaser for a person with a sweet tooth like me :)

    I'm from Chennai, so did not get a chance to taste the Naturals ice cream, got to look up their store in my next visit to India

    BTW, this recipe reminds me of the Haagen-Dazs Pineapple Coconut flavor, have you tried it, its divine

  7. Not that I am enticing you to move back to Bombay or anything, but I have a naturals right opposite my building. And a Gokul's icecream wala just below the building :)

  8. Yum!
    The only comment I would make is at all costs to avoid "reduced fat" coconut milk. It is typically an inferior product that includes many additives to fake making it look as white and creamy as the regular stuff. I would use the highest quality coconut milk you can find - "Chaokoh" is a good one, as is "Natural Value." Mae Ploy is also excellent, but its containers are larger and probably too big for this recipe.

  9. Nupur you won't believe this, we have Naturals in Blr now! The day a colleague found out she called up the entire Mumbai gang at work and announced the news and the funny part is she is part of the Risk and compliance team;). There was a major information leak that day. We all are above 30 and were squealing just at the news. However I am yet to make my trip to the outlet and I swear I'll do it soon. But then should I now that you have a recipe here:D. But then we will need to benchmark right!;)

  10. just a grt post....i didn't have an ice cream maker...but as u given the direction of without the maker seems would work well...I think a mixer can also help us....thanks for sharing the recipe...

  11. You write so beautifully, Nupur. Your description of 1980s took me straight to my own school days too.

    Thanks for trying the recipe. I feel honored to get a mention here on your lovely blog. Thanks.

  12. We have been wolfing down on the mango icecream made from jugalbandi. This simple and good looking recipe must absolutely be tried.

  13. I always use Whole Foods Organic reduced fat coconut milk. I will check the ingredient list next time. but i was under impression it's pretty good.

  14. OH MY. Is Global Foods still open? Must make coconut ice cream now.

    OH MY. Laughing, laughing, at the impassive Dalu so excited over a treat. Pets!

  15. Hi! I couldn't find the original recipe on the blog where you sourced this recipe from. Can you please post a link to the recipe?
    Thanks, Samantha

  16. How nice to be able to recreate one of your favorite childhood memories right in your own kitchen.

  17. Nupur,
    You and Meera have both inspired me to try out this amazing recipe.
    I loved the video of Dale.. he is adorable.
    Thank you so much for sharing the recipe, the memories of Bombay and the video of Dale.

  18. A beautiful piece, Nupur! Now I really want to try this ice-cream.

  19. Wow..that's their signature icecream!was very sad when the local Naturals closed down!don't own an icecream maker but will find out a way!:)Love Dale as alaways!

  20. Just to make you jealous ... most of the weekends when I visit my mom in Vile Parla we drop by at Naturals which just round the corner ;)

    Dale looks so cool and enthu, I just loved his pleasant barks :)

  21. i recently heard Naturals opened up a branch in Bangalore. Got to try it now. And, please please, post more videos of Dale.

  22. indosungod- I might give in and buy one soon too...but you don't need one to make this particular ice cream.

    Happy Cook- It was smooth, but also had bits of the tender coconut to bite into. I'm glad you agree that mango and coconut both need equal attention!

    SS- Ah, it is difficult to surf the food blogs when you are on a restricted diet!

    Manasi- The sitaphal is wonderful too, I completely agree with you.
    Dale sends his love! I'd love to make more videos of Dale, but problem is, he is never in action excpet when barking for treats from Tony :D the video would be of him taking a nap!

    Jil Jil Ramamani- My story goes well into the 90s too!

    rv- No, haven't tried Haagen-Daaz Pineapple Coconut, will look for it. They had one particular mango flavor which was really good and reminded me of mango ice cream in India.

    Simran- Oh you lucky lucky girl! So what are your favorite flavors of Naturals? Do they have any new and exciting ones?

    Diane- Yes, I agree, as you can see in the picture, both my coconut milk and tender coconut are from Chaokoh.

    Anjali- How fun that they opened a branch in Bangalore! LOL I can see why that would stir up a lot of excitement :)

    Silence Sings- Thanks, yes, I don't think an ice cream maker is necessary, some vigorous stirring during the freezing process should do it.

    Meera- You have an eye for the most fantastic recipes, this one is a keeper!

    Gini- Ooh, now I need to look up the mango ice cream from Jugalbandi!

    Alanna- Or...just stop by my place today; we still have a couple of scoops in the freezer!
    You should see Dale dragging me down the street to see Tony- nearly rips off my arm off :D

    Samantha- There is a link already posted, check the italics right below the recipe title.

    Lydia- I know, I love when I am able to find these great recipes to replicate tastes that I like!

    Michelle- Dale is blushing and says, thanks :D Thank you for stopping by!

    Anh- It is an unusual taste, worth trying!

    Madhuli- You can make this without an ice cream maker. Dale says hello!

    A- I'll try to post videos of Dale but he is rarely this animated!

    Kanchan- Oh you lucky thing! Next time will you eat an extra scoop in my name? :D
    By pleasant barks, you mean ear-splitting barks? People from the nearby coffee shop look alarmed!

  23. wow, nupur, wish i was nearby to get a taste of this. looks really creamy and delicious!

  24. Yum...Naturals ice-cream now you have me craving for some!! I remember having this with my building friends at Shivaji park (in the 80s).
    Loved Dale's video! I must say, he is quite polite to say 'please' to Tony for getting the treat.

  25. The Dale video was priceless! He was actually talking to Tony! I watched it over and over again, it made my day!
    I love anything with coconut - I will certainly give this one a try.

  26. Oh my god, that video of Dale was bright bliss on a dreary workday! How adorable is he? I just want to run right down to St. Louis and give him a big cuddle :)
    I love the sound of coconut ice cream-- and am ashamed to say that although being a Bombayite I never did have the Naturals ice cream. Too late now, unless they come up with a vegan one! :)

  27. Nupur -

    Thanks for sharing a wonderful recipe. Kudos to you and Meera.

    Dale - You are the cutest adorable pet!!

  28. This is just like a rather famous Filipino ice cream called Macapuno, which is from a special waterless young coconut that has an incredily soft flesh. In Alameda, California, they have it at Tucker's Ice Cream on Park Street, and it's pretty great. People come from all over to eat it there.

  29. i loved reading your reminiscing post! and that icecream sounds soo good!

  30. Nupur: One quick question. When you add the tender coconut, do you add it with all the syrup, or do you drain out the liquid? Thanks!

  31. Hi,
    Have been following your blog for quite some time, commenting for the first time though.
    Dale's video is simply fabulous. He is actually talking to Tony! Very very cute. Love you Dale!
    Great ice cream recipe too.
    Can mango ice cream be made the same way, using mango pulp instead of the coconut milk?
    Thanks for sharing,

  32. Oh Nupur your TC reminds me of those North Indian street vendors near my grandparents place. They serve ice-cream in a small cup. Each cup had a scoop of that unknown flavor of ice-cream topped with some tutti-fruity and they were absolutely decadent. Gosh, I wish I can have them now. But still I will never say NO to any ice-cream, so I will enjoy your TC now.

  33. Mallugirl- I wish you were nearby too :) but since you are not, you can make this for yourself in minutes!

    Namita- LOL I don't think he is being polite as much as he is demanding treats in his loudest voice!

    Kamini- Yes, Tony has trained him to talk, and there are times when he strings his barks together into the funniest sound- he did not do that in this video though.
    Thanks so much for asking the question about draining the liquid- I immediately updated the recipe; yes the liquid does need to be drained and discarded.

    Vaishali- Well, come on down and bring your pups with you, we will have a big ol' party!
    Veganizing this recipe...well, I wonder if nut milk and silken tofu would work?? You could certainly add coconut milk and tender coconut to a tried and tested vegan ice cream base to replicate the taste.

    Ashwini- Dale says thanks, he is glad at least one person recognizes him for the gem he is :D

    Gourmet Goddess- Macapuno sounds wonderful!

    Veggie Belly- Thank you!

    Sonia- Thanks for taking the time to comment. Yes, Dale has entire conversations with Tony at the top of his voice :)
    You could try the recipe with mango pulp and see for yourself (I think it would work, but mango pulp is rather watery and the ice cream might have too many ice crystals), or try one of the many tried and tested mango ice cream recipes from other bloggers.

    RV- Oh yes, tutti fruitty was wonderful stuff as a kid! Ice cream lovers will love the taste of this one.

  34. I have had Naturals only ones (in Pune) but the flavor of that fig ice-cream is still in my mouth like it was yesterday! Haven't had their coconut ice-cream though.. wow, a wonderful recipe, Nupur, brought back all the nostalgia,.

  35. The ice cream looks fantastic ! I think Dale is the cutest dog EVER !

  36. Oh My God - Naturals Tender Coconut Icecream !!!Nupur - Thanks for the treat ! Will make it soon.

    Re: Dale's Video...
    Loved the way Dale talks... :) Nice one....

  37. This post is as refreshing as the subject..and full of Naturals nostalgia!

    Tender coconut, nothing short of an elixir in summer time!

  38. Naturals, My fav place. Have you tried the Kaju kishmish over there?
    Altough over thr years their quality has gone down a bit.
    I still remember the traffic jams during the summer.

  39. Hi Nupur,
    I rarely check food blogs any more(it has been more than a year!) but I regulary check yours...not just for the recipes but also for the pleasure of reading your well-written pieces :)

  40. Hi Nupur,

    I liked the tender coconut icecream (had it a decade ago in Bombay) and I really enjoyed the video of Dale, but what I loved the most was the sound of your laughter in the video.

    Love, Shoots :)

  41. I left Mumbai in 1997 for Chennai and then Delhi and have not eaten much ice cream since. There is no other ice cream which seems to stand up to their superior taste.

    I just eat loads of it everytime I go back to Mumbai - and yes TC is my favourite too. The latest flavour I have tasted and liked is guava - yes guava. Amazing.

    The one you have made looks amazing - what fun to be able to make it at home whenever you want!


  42. PJ- Ah, fig ice cream, you reminded me of another one of my favorite flavors!

    Dhana- Nice to see you here, how are you and how are your twins? Dale says thanks and he thinks you're pretty cool too :D

    Leena Goutam- You must try this, it is really good! Yes, Dale talks loud enough that the whole neighborhood can hear.

    musical- I agree, tender coconut has sustained through some exhausting days of summer, and tender coconut ice cream just showcases the flavor further.

    anamika- I have tried the kaju kishmish, and it was wonderful, I love cashews. I guess once they became the huge brand they are, the small-batch quality was a little diminished.

    Nabeela- How nice to see you here; how are you doing? I do miss reading your blog!

    Sutapa- Aww...((( hugs )))

    Miri- Guava sounds like the most interesting flavor, and I don't think I have ever tasted it! I know, I am so excited to be able to make this any time I feel like it.

  43. Hey back to your blog after a while - and there are so many treats waiting - here in Hyd there is a naturals at a decent distance but i dont know if they'll deliver home- so next time i get a craving for good ol' naturals - I'll visit this bokmark - and i knew from your posts that you've hung out in Juhu - so i was pretty sure you'd have tasted and loved Naturals :)
    That lemonade of yours has the touch of traditional panakam as you've used cardamom - with saffron too - i'd love to taste this!

  44. Whenever I go to Mumbai, I make it a point to skip my dinner, go to Naturals and enjoy all my favorite flavors. I will definitely try the recipe this summer.


  45. Those Naturals guys have opened 2 outlets here in Goa too. I tried a couple of their ice-creams but wasn't too impressed. Maybe I tried the wrong flavours! :)

    This flavour is to be tried, I think. Next flavour on my icecream list.

  46. Tender coconut was my favourite from Naturals too! In fact I had this drive going on during one summer vacation where I tried all their flavours in one week :)

  47. Wow. Natural's Tender Coconut is divine. I am sure yours must have turned out great too as the recipe looks good and so does the photo.

    Naturals went on to open many franchisees all over Mumbai since the Juhu one was the lone Naturals many years ago.

    They have added many more flavours. I love the jackfruit and peru(Guava) flavours and these have replaced TC as my fav flavours.

  48. this is perfect1!!!!bookmarked.

  49. Sweet heavens!! I have never had Naturals, but only if I could have this. I do not have an ice cream machine....

  50. Nandita- So are you discovering new favorite eats in Hydi? You were such a gracious and wonderful host when we visited you :)

    thoughtsandpots- Dessert for dinner is just what you need on vacation!

    Aparna- You know, my aunt mentioned that their quality is going down as they are expanding, so maybe it is not the same as when I tried it decades ago. But this one is worth a try!

    bhagyashri- That sounds like a terrific project, what fun!

    Abodh- OOh, jackfruit ice cream sounds very unusual and so does peru. I can't even imagine what those must take like. Naturals does like to expand the flavor horizon, I love that about them.

    s- Thanks!

    Soma- You don't need an ice cream machine, it can be set in a bowl with periodic whipping to break up the ice crystals.

  51. Thanks to this post, I found out that there is a Naturals ice cream outlet in Bangalore. We tried out several varieties including tender coconut icecream! It was incredible that they even served jack fruit ice cream which we all loved!

  52. hi nupur thanks for the recipe where i stay in india we dont have naturals there and TC is my fav. icecream that i always buy 1/2kg tub TC in bangalore i miss it alot so i tried a version of coconut ice cream which is not any near to Naturals urs n meera seems so good can u please mention the quantities as i cant get those cans here . thankyou TC fan

    1. Condensed milk: 14 oz. (1 and 1/3 cups)
      Evaporated milk: 14-1/2 oz. (1 and 2/3 cups)
      Coconut milk: 14 oz. (400 ml or 1 and 3/4 cup)
      And you can add tender coconut pieces if you can find them. About 1/2 cup or so. Good luck!


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