Raleigh, North Carolina chef Cheetie Kumar combines an Indian staple, coconut milk, with a Southern essential, buttermilk, to make this wonderfully rich and tangy sauce. Kumar serves it over her Gingery Carrots with Pistachios but it’s delicious served over any roasted vegetable or drizzled over chicken or seafood, especially if it has a bit of spice. Although this recipe is made with five ingredients and comes together in five minutes, it’s important to choose the right ingredients. Be sure to buy unsweetened canned coconut cream, not coconut milk, cream of coconut, or coconut water. True to its name, coconut cream has a much thicker, creamier texture. It’s solid rather than liquid. It’s also worth seeking out good-quality buttermilk—look for some at your local farmers’ market, if possible. You want the buttermilk to be as thick as possible to help give the sauce body and not water it down too much, and for it to have a nice amount of acidity. A small whisk is the best tool to incorporate the thick coconut cream with the rest of the ingredients to make a smooth sauce. Not sure what to do with the rest of the coconut cream still left in the can? Combine an equal amount of coconut cream and heavy cream in a heavy-duty stand mixer and whip up some delicious coconut whipped cream. Add a bit to a smoothie or milkshake for a light tropical note. Or use it to make an aromatic curry dish with chicken, shrimp, or tofu.

By Cheetie Kumar, Garland


Credit: Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Torie Cox; Prop Styling: Missie Neville Crawford

Recipe Summary test

5 mins
3/4 cups


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Remove 1/4 cup of the solidified cream from top of coconut cream (reserve remaining coconut cream for another use).

  • Whisk together buttermilk, oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and 1/4 cup solidified coconut cream in a medium bowl until smooth.