This post may contain affiliate links. See our disclosure policy.
This Coconut Rice recipe uses fresh spices and vegetables to brighten the color and taste of the Basmati Rice. It’s the best we’ve ever tasted!
What is Coconut Rice?
This Easy Coconut Rice recipe is not just white rice with flakes of coconut in it. Although, this would probably be delicious if you are a fan of coconut. The coconut flavor comes from coconut milk, which gives the rice some sweetness and a mild coconut flavor. Many Indian and Thai restaurants offer this perfect side dish on the menu. It has a hint of curry, but the fresh spices are really what sets this recipe apart from most coconut rice recipes out there.
Our dear friend, Meena, introduced this incredible dish to us and was so generous to share the recipe. Her home cooked Indian food is better than I’ve ever tasted at a restaurant. Every ingredient is fresh. Meena was raised in India and she brings back freshly ground spices when she travels there. The difference in taste is profound. She has been very generous in sharing her spices and her recipes. Thank you, Meena!
Coconut Rice Ingredients
This coconut rice recipe has so many delicious ingredients, it’s like a surprise in every bite! Of course you can omit ingredients if you want, but try them all just to see how well the flavors blend together! Here’s what you need:
- Basmati rice – read below for more details on what kind of rice to use for this recipe
- A little vegetable oil and some butter.
- One cinnamon stick.
- Four whole cloves – if you have ground cloves, you can use that too.
- 1 bay leaf – you’ll remove the leaf, the cloves and the cinnamon stick once the flavors all come together.
- Minced garlic – more or less than a teaspoon, depending on how much garlic you like.
- Curry powder – gives a rich, deep flavor to the rice.
- A chopped tomato – I love using fresh tomatoes from our garden but you can use a can of diced tomatoes too.
- Jalapeno – this is optional but if you like a little heat, chop some up and include in this recipe!
- Chicken broth – binds all the ingredients together with more flavor than just water.
- For extra protein, you can add chopped chicken or pork into the rice.
What Kind of Rice is Best for Coconut Rice?
There are so many different types of rice to choose from when making this dish. Both basmati and jasmine rice are long grain rice, which means they cook up fluffy and not too sticky. We prefer basmati but you could use jasmine in a pinch. Try to avoid using brown rice or short grain white rice for this recipe. Normally you could cook rice in a rice cooker or pressure cooker, but for this recipe you’ll want to use a large fry pan or pot to be used on the stovetop.
Tips for Making Coconut Rice
- Use good quality Basmati rice.
- Give the rice a good rinse to remove some of the starch.
- Don’t skip the step of soaking the grains for 30 minutes. This shortens the cooking time, which keeps more of the flavor in the rice. The longer you leave the rice to simmer on the stove top, the more flavor it loses.
- Use the freshest spices you can find.
- Use full fat coconut milk. Light coconut milk will alter the flavor and texture of the recipe and make it seem like it has too much liquid.
- This rice is delicious without the cashews and cilantro, but they do add great ratio of flavor, texture and color to the dish.
- You can also add a fresh squeeze of lime juice for extra flavor.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. It’s perfect for meal prep!
What to serve with Coconut Rice
- Chicken Massaman Curry – Chicken and potatoes cooked in a sweet, slightly spicy sauce.
- Coconut Curry Chicken with Peanuts – Sweet and spicy flavors make this a warm, comforting meal any night of the week.
- Grilled Coconut Curry Chicken – Chicken marinate in delicious seasoning and then grilled to perfection.
- Curried Chickpeas – For a tasty vegetarian meal, serve curried chickpeas as the main dish with this rice. Loaded with Indian flavors and very filling.
- Chicken Tikka Masala – Tender chicken in a creamy, tomato-based sauce. It’s so easy to make at home.
How to Make Coconut Rice
- Fry Pan/Skillet
- 2 cups Basmati rice (uncooked)
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon butter
- 1 stick cinnamon cut into a 1 inch piece
- 4 cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 2 teaspoon curry powder
- 1 small tomato chopped
- 1 small jalapeno (optional)
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 14 ounces coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup dry roasted cashews
- 1 tablespoon cilantro chopped
- Soak rice in the 1 cup of water for at least 30 minutes.
- Add oil, butter, cinnamon stick, cloves, and bay leaf to a large fry pan over medium heat. Fry for 2 minutes them add minced garlic and fry until garlic turns golden.
- Turn heat to low and add the cumin and curry powder. Then add the diced tomato (and optional jalapeno) and cook a couple more minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick, cloves, and bay leaf.
- Drain the water from the rice and add the rice to the fry pan and mix well, cook for 2 minutes. Keep stirring to prevent rice from sticking to the pan.
- Add the chicken broth, coconut milk, and salt and turn heat up to medium high to bring mixture to a boil. Stir frequently.
- Boil for 5 minutes, then turn heat to low and cover with a lid. Cook for another 15 minutes covered. Then remove from heat and let set for 5 more minutes.
- Fluff with a fork and serve with cashews and chopped cilantro over the top.