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coconut milk substituted with regular milk

when making chicken curry and the recipe calls for coconut milk, can I substitute regular milk?
I'm not concerned with being "authentic"

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  1. No. The flavor will be way off. I think it would be quite nasty, frankly.

    1. You would be better off picking a curry that is not based on coconut.

      1. no, not cow milk. Almond milk makes a decent curry but it lacks the richness and mouthfeel of coconut milk.
        why don't you want to us coconut milk?

        3 Replies
        1. re: magiesmom

          I was wondering if it would make a difference since coconut milk didn't have much taste to it on my first experience. My dish turne out great.
          Also, we don't all live in cities close to grocery stores.

          1. re: sylvan

            I live in a town of 900 people, so not a city, and not very near a city, but we are blessed to have a general store that has al kinds of wonderful things.

        2. It depends on if you're making an Indian curry or a Southest Asian curry. A lot of Indian curries are made with dairy, like yogurt. The flavor profile will be different than with coconut milk, so you can't do an outright substitution, but you can look up recipes for yogurt based Indian curries if you need help making adjustments.

          1 Reply
          1. re: AsperGirl

            sounds very tastey, I'll look up some recipes with yogurt based Indian curries

          2. Yipes...no, don't do it. I agree that the almond milk might be a passable alternate. It just probably won't taste as good.

            I'd be curious also to know what the problem is with coconut...certainly not availability since you can pretty much find it in any supermarket these days.

            1 Reply
            1. re: The Professor

              no prob with coconut milk here, The Professor. But if I forget it on my list when I'm at the grocery store 55 miles away, I was wondering if I could use regular milk, that's all

            2. Cow milk is emulsified proteins and butter fats. Coconut milk is emulsified palm oil. Totally different in taste, cooking properties, and final presentation.

              3 Replies
                1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                  Palm oil does not come from Coconut Palm(Cocos nucifera) it comes from the Oil Palm(Elaeis guineensis)

                  1. re: chefj

                    Yeah I was a bit befuddled by that statement as well. Coconut does contain a type of oil called palmitic oil but even that is only about 10% of the oil content.

                2. Thanks for all your responses. I'm new to cooking with coconut milk and curry powder and I was just asking for my own knowledge . Also, I live waaaay out in the desert and if I forget to get some ingredients, it's not like I can hop in the car and drive to the neighborhood grocery store.
                  Thanks, again

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: sylvan

                    you may want to try heavy cream instead of just milk. it will give a richer mouthfeel, but if your coconut milk didn't have much flavor? i'm wondering what you bought? are you sure it was coconut milk?

                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                      yes, it said coconut milk on the can

                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                        I was hoping people would say you COULD do this because the coconut milk is so fatty and caloric.

                            1. re: magiesmom

                              Exactly. And apparently, coconut oil is actually good for you too, regarded these days as one of the healthier fats you can consume.

                            2. re: Bliss149

                              "I was hoping people would say you COULD do this because the coconut milk is so fatty and caloric."

                              Your point being? :)

                              But seriously...how often do you have a curry? And think about it, you're not ingesting the whole can of cocnut milk; just a portion. Coconut milk is not bad for you. Everything in moderation.

                              1. re: Bliss149

                                "I was hoping people would say you COULD do this because the coconut milk is so fatty and caloric."


                                i'm not understanding your comment? i am not fat-phobic. as it says over the walk-in door of the french laundry: "fat is flavor."

                                1. re: Bliss149

                                  And here I've been hoping people would say this because I am deathly allergic to coconut! Everyone always says "HOW DARE YOU TAKE THE COCONUT OUT! BLASPHEMY!" and I'm all...."Open that can of coconut in the same house as me and I'm gunna have to go get my epi-pen."

                            3. If you happen to have desiccated coconut at home you can make coconut milk yourself. This website http://www.coconut-connections.com/co... explains how.

                              1. I definitely would not substitute milk for coconut milk in a curry recipe. Plain water would be preferable, although nowhere near as flavorful.

                                If the coconut milk you purchased didn't have much taste, I'm a little concerned. Proper coconut milk (even from a can) should have a definite scent/flavor of coconut and be quite rich. Do you recall the brand?

                                1. I had a Malay friend from Singapore who told me in Malay cooking for weight loss or restricted-diet purposes, people sub cow milk for coconut milk in their curries regularly to be healthier. I asked about this on CH once, too because I was surprised about it, and I recall that one person who I think was also of South East Asian origin responded and said that she/her mom did the same thing. I searched CH and tried to search through Google but I cannot find that thread. However, I just want to let you know that it works and it is done by some people. It may not taste the same, but when cooking light sometimes one has to make compromises.

                                  Edit: found thread from 2008

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: luckyfatima

                                    I suppose it's possible. I'm from Malaysia, but I cannot imagine using cow's milk for coconut milk. I'd be surprised if it's a common substitution, given that dairy products aren't as widely consumed over there as they are in the U.S.

                                    Obviously not everyone will agree, but I'm inclined to think taste-wise, it's just not a good compromise to make. The point of using coconut milk in the first place is the richness, the incredible fragrance and slight sweetness it adds to a curry. Substituting it for something else would be like using margarine instead of butter when baking brioche.

                                  2. honestly though a lot of people here frown on it, I see nothing wrong, I know plenty of Vietnamese cooks that use whole cows milk for their curries in place of coconut milk., and some who use heavy cream (heavy cream is a great substitute just don't use too much, it gives a nice richness) also some Indian curries are yogurt based so look into those too. Try it for yourself and if it tastes good to you and your family that's all that matters. It won't ruin your dish that's for sure.

                                    1. Hmmm...interesting no one in my household tried that before but i think the taste would be odd. Anyhow, it wouldn't hurt if you try. Let us know how it goes. :)

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: clarkcapers7234

                                        I used milk for a Jamaican curry and couldn't taste the milk, because since milk has a pretty mild taste, it got taken over by the curry powder, spices, garlic, ginger, but still gave the sauce a little bit of richness, and color. However I do love coconut milk and missed it's richness (it can be very rich) and the hint of coconut. I only used it because I was too lazy to go to the store, but yes coconut milk is awesome if you have it on hand & it's my preferred :)

                                        1. re: qbnboy90

                                          This is in response to an old post, but I am really sick and tired of people saying so what if its fattening or full of fat, etc. Everyone in the world doesn't enjoying being overweight, plus the health risks and many of us have a hard time keeping our weight down to normal. Please keep your comments on the food and the solutions, and keep your opinions about weight, why not to eat the fat, etc. Most of us know that, its the reason we ask the questions about trying to find a slimmer way.

                                          And on that subject, for those who want to use milk or heavy cream and yet get the coconut flavor, contrary to the purists who keep yelling " don't use extracts"... it works beautifully. Just a 1/2 tsp in a glass of the milk or cream does it.

                                          1. re: happygoluckyinoregon

                                            Extract in milk doesn't taste anything like coconut milk. Tried it once. Yuck. Sorry.

                                            1. re: C. Hamster

                                              yes, yuck and nothing like coconut milk.

                                              1. re: happygoluckyinoregon

                                                I would recommend making something else rather than use coconut extract mixed in milk.

                                      2. Try Blue Diamond almond coconut milk. It's only 45 calories per cup and tastes like coconut milk. I just tried it for the first time today and it's quite good.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: lynnlato

                                          Yes, its pretty good lynn - another comment is that if you're looking for creamy sauce and a good flavor in your curry, try adding a couple of TBS of chickpea flour to some of the milk and stirring it into the simmering sauce.

                                        2. I made it today without coconut milk and really it's just not as sweet so I added some sugar along with it. I think that it's still good but not as good as the coconut milk flavor.