Savory Coconut Rice

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Do you like curry? I love curry of all sorts, served of course with a side of long grain basmati rice. Usually we pay more attention to the curry than we do the rice. But the rice can be a star all on its own.

Lately I’ve been experimenting with coconut rice, not the sweet dessert rice that accompanies mango slices, but the savory type, more like a pilaf, cooked with grated coconut and aromatic spices like cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon. If you like coconut (hello dad!) this one is for you.

Coconut Rice

I’ve made several versions of this recipe, with clarified butter, with plain butter, with coconut oil. My favorite is clarified butter but the coconut oil version is really good too! I keep eating it and coming up with excuses to make more.

This recipe is loosely adapted from a recipe in a cookbook from the 60s, called A Taste of India, by Mary Atwood.

Savory Coconut Rice Recipe

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  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6.

You can use either coconut oil or clarified butter for this recipe. Clarified butter will add a wonderful buttery flavor to the rice if you use it and is more traditional for this Indian style rice. Use coconut oil for vegan option.

To make clarified butter, take 4 Tbsp of unsalted butter and melt in a saucepan on medium low heat. Skim the foam. Strain through cheesecloth into a bowl, straining out the solids. (If pressed for time, you can skip the straining step for this recipe, and just skim the foam.)

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp coconut oil (for vegan option) or clarified butter
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (1 teaspoon)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 cups basmati long grain rice
  • 1/2 cup grated, unsweetened coconut
  • 2 cups unsweetened coconut water*
  • 1 3/4 cups plain water
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 1 stick cinnamon

* If you don't have access to packaged coconut water, add 1 cup of grated coconut to 4 cups of water, bring to a simmer, cover and remove from heat, let sit for 15 to 20 minutes, then strain. Use in place of the coconut water and plain water for this recipe.

Method

1 Melt coconut oil or clarified butter in a medium sauté pan (that has a cover) on medium low heat. Add the finely chopped onion and cook until golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic, cayenne, and salt, and cook a minute more.

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2 Stir the rice into the onion mixture to coat with the oil or butter and cook for 3 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

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3 Add the grated coconut to the rice onion mixture and stir in the  coconut water and the water. Stir in the cardamom pods, cloves, and cinnamon. Increase heat to bring the rice mixture to a simmer. Lower the heat the low, cover, and simmer gently for 15 minutes.

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4 Remove from heat and let the rice steam in the residual heat, covered, for 10 more minutes. Remove lid and remove cardamom pods, cloves, and cinnamon. Fluff with a fork.

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Showing 4 of 35 Comments

  • Nancy Marsden

    The coconut water was a great addition, instead of the canned coconut milk I have used in the past, which was a bit too greasy. Since I was serving this with a Thai style salmon, I substituted chopped cilantro and green onion instead of the Indian spices. Since I had so many other dishes to cook, I made it easier, cooked it in the rice cooker. Slightly different proportions…for 2 cups white basmati, 2 cups of unsweetened coconut water and just under a cup of plain water. While It was cooking, sautéed the garlic, cilantro and green onions lightly in the butter and stirred the mixture into the fluffed rice at the end. Everyone loved it! Thank you for inspiring me!

  • Yelena

    Is 1 to 1 proprtion of liquid and rice enough? I’m worried it may be undercooked since regular rice is cooked with 1 part rice and 2 parts liquid..

  • Cynthia

    Hi, I followed the directions to a tee. The rice wasn’t even close to cooked or the water absorbed. I put it back on heat for another 15 mins, let it sit, still not cooked, repeated this one more time and I still have a large pot of un cooked rice. ( hard and crunchy). Suggestions as to how to get it cooked with out burning it? Has this happened to anyone else? I hate to throw away the whole thing.

  • Jennifer S.

    I have been very low carb paleo for awhile, so I haven’t cooked rice in a long time. Recently I added back rice and potatoes to my diet. As soon as I saw you post this, I knew I had to try it. I made it yesterday, and it was delicious! I loved the spices in this. I also made your mom’s spanish rice this weekend, and that was great as well! Thank you!

  • Kate

    I just made this, exactly as written (choosing Ghee) but for the substitution of jasmine rice as that was what I had on hand. It is FABULOUS! It’s taking sheer force of will not to eat huge quantities of it straight from the pot. If sanity prevails, I’ll be trying it with your shrimp curry.

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