The coconut you want depends on whether you need the milk or the flesh: a younger coconut contains more liquid, less solid. The way to test it is to give the coconut a shake. There is no particular picking season because coconut palms are common throughout the tropical world.

Dealing with a fresh coconut is nothing like as daunting as it looks, but because coconut is so important in Southern Indian and Thai recipes a number of convenient forms that keep well have been developed.

Coconut – creamed. This comes in block form and can be used to enrich curries and sauces. All you do here is grate it, then, using a whisk, blend it with boiling water to a creamy liquid.

Coconut - powder. A great storecupboard stand-by, this is particularly good in Thai fishcakes. If can be tricky to get hold of, but Maggi coconut milk powder is sold in some supermarkets and independent stores, it is also available online from Country Products here

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