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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Shivi Ramoutar

Tropical chowder, sticky peaches and cream: Shivi Ramoutar’s budget recipes with coconut milk

A Trini chowder: Shivi Ramoutar's corn soup, Trinidad-style.
A Trini chowder: Shivi Ramoutar’s Caribbean-style sweetcorn soup. Photograph: Yuki Sugiura/The Guardian. Food styling: Rosie Reynolds. Prop styling: Louie Waller.

Tins of coconut milk are a store-cupboard staple that I always have ready to go. Adding them to a dish immediately gives it a hint of exoticism, so I’m sharing two tropical and rather less common ways in which to use coconut milk to create hassle-free, make-ahead dishes that will appeal to the whole family. Both recipes are versatile, too – the corn soup is perfect for adding seasonal veg to, while the peaches can be swapped for nectarines or other larger stone fruit.

Trini-inspired corn soup (pictured top)

Based on a street food from Trinidad, this one-pot belter with a creamy, bacon undertone is essentially a tropical take on chowder. It packs a punch and you can use it as a canvas in which to add any seasonal veg and leafy greens that needs using up. Increase the cayenne pepper if you want more of a kick, and I’d add some fresh chilli if you like. This is a good dish to freeze (before dropping in the dumplings, obviously), in which case you may need to add a little extra water to loosen it a bit.

Prep 15 min
Cook 50 min
Serves 4

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion
, peeled and roughly chopped
1 medium to large carrot, sliced thinly
100g streaky bacon, chopped into lardons
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 sprigs thyme
1 tsp cayenne pepper
4 mini corn cobs
(if frozen, defrost at room temperature 10 minutes beforehand)
1 x 400ml tin coconut milk
1 vegetable stock cube
, crumbled
200g split lentils

For the dumplings
150g self-raising flour
A large pinch of salt

In a large, lidded pot over a medium heat, heat the oil, then soften the onion and carrot for about 10 minutes. Add the lardons, garlic, thyme and cayenne, stir until the aromas hit you, then add the corn and cook, stirring regularly, for another five minutes.

Add the coconut milk, crumbled stock cube and lentils, along with 700ml boiling water and a generous pinch of seasoning. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, pop the lid on and simmer, stirring now and again, until the lentils are soft – about 25 minutes.

For the dumplings, combine the flour and salt in a bowl, then gradually add water, a tablespoon at a time, whisking to combine, until you have a stiff dough. Let the dough rest for about 10 minutes, then pinch off small pieces of dough, roll and flatten into half-palm sized pieces. Drop into the soup for the last five minutes of cooking, and serve immediately.

Warm sticky peaches with spiced coconut cream

Shivi Ramoutar’s sticky roast peaches with spiced coconut cream.
Shivi Ramoutar’s sticky roast peaches with spiced coconut cream. Photograph: Yuki Sugiura/The Guardian. Food styling: Rosie Reynolds. Prop styling: Louie Waller.

This easy-to-prepare winner exudes elegance that belies its simplicity and adds a tropical twist to the classic combo of peaches and cream. This is a great way to use up overripe fruit that perhaps isn’t as enjoyable in its raw state any more. I prepare the peaches ahead of time and just pop into the oven 25 minutes before I want to serve it. Freeze the unused liquid coconut milk in an ice-cube tray and use to enhance curries, or in smoothies.

Prep 10 min
Cook 30 min
Serves 4

4 ripe peaches, halved and stoned
4 tbsp runny honey
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 gingernut biscuits
, crumbled

For the coconut whipped cream
1 x 400ml tin coconut milk, chilled overnight and unshaken
1 tsp vanilla extract
75g icing sugar

Heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/gas 6. Put the peaches cut side up in a roasting tin, then drizzle over the honey, sprinkle with the cinnamon and add a teensy pinch of salt. Roast for 20-25 minutes, until golden and sticky.

For the whipped coconut cream, take the chilled, unshaken tin of coconut milk and scrape off the heavy thick cream, leaving the liquid behind. Beat the thick coconut cream with the vanilla extract and icing sugar in a mixer, until thick and whipped (be careful not to overwhip, otherwise it will separate).

As soon as the peaches are ready, serve with the whipped coconut cream and crumbled biscuits.

Cook Clever: One Chop, No Waste, All Taste, by Shivi Ramoutar, is published by HarperCollins at £20. To order a copy for £17.60, visit

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