Indian Coconut Rice

5 from 5 votes

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This Indian 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!

Coconut Rice in a bowl next to the fry pan
Featured with this Recipe
  1. What is Coconut Rice?
  2. Indian Coconut Rice Ingredients
  3. What Kind of Rice is Best for Coconut Rice?
  4. Tips for Making Indian Coconut Rice
  5. Frequently Asked Questions
  6. What to serve with Coconut Rice
  7. How to Make Indian Coconut Rice
  8. Indian Coconut Rice Recipe

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.

When it comes to side dishes, it doesn’t get much better than this easy Coconut Rice. It adds flavor and flair to your favorite Indian and Thai cuisine.

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 on a Fork

Indian 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.
  • Coconut Milk – gives the rice a soft rich texture and flavor.
  • 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.

A bowl of coconut rice with a fork

Tips for Making Indian 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!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is coconut rice good for you?

This Indian Coconut Rice is rich in carbs, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals. It has more calories and fat than regular rice but also has more veggies and nutrients.

Why does coconut rice not taste like coconut?

Because it is cooked in coconut milk which gives the rice a great texture and hint of flavor. It is not the same flavor as sweetened coconut used in other dishes.

How do you make it taste more like coconut?

If you are wanting more of a coconut flavor you could add sweetened coconut shavings to the rice.

Read Next: How to Make Jollof Rice

What to serve with Coconut Rice

How to Make Indian Coconut Rice

Coconut Rice in a bowl

Indian Coconut Rice

5 from 5 votes
This Indian 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!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Rice Soaking Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Indian
Servings 8



  • Fry Pan/Skillet



  • 1/4 cup dry roasted cashews
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro chopped


  • Soak rice in the 1 cup of water for at least 30 minutes.
    Soaking Rice in Water
  • 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.
    Cooking Spices in oil
  • 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.
    Adding diced tomatoes to the spices
  • 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.
    Adding Rice to the tomatoes and spices in the fry pan
  • Add the chicken broth, coconut milk, and salt and turn heat up to medium high to bring mixture to a boil. Stir frequently.
    Adding Chicken broth and coconut milk to rice
  • 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.
    Covering Rice to cook in the fry pan
  • Fluff with a fork and serve with cashews and chopped cilantro over the top.
    Fully cooked Coconut Rice in the frypan

Nutrition Information

Calories: 260kcalCarbohydrates: 41gProtein: 4gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 448mgPotassium: 143mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 123IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 28mgIron: 1mg

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About the author

Emily Walker

Emily lives in Meridian, Idaho, with her husband, Beau, a physician assistant, and her three incredible children: a son and two daughters. Travel is one of her favorite ways to experience new cultures and cuisines, and she has a love for all things Disney.

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  1. 5 stars
    We are always looking for different ways to make rice. This flavor is to die for! Thank you for all of the great tips so that the rice turns out perfectly every single time!

  2. 5 stars
    I love coconut rice!! We love it with Hawaiian food or teriyaki chicken/grilled chicken. This recipe has a ton of flavor!

  3. 5 stars
    Yum! Loved the flavor! The hint of coconut with the other spices were delicious together. It’s a great side for so many things!

  4. 5 stars
    YUM! We loved this style of coconut rice. Loved the addition of curry spice and tomato. Thanks for another winning recipe. We’ll definitely make it again for sure!

  5. 5 stars
    Such a unique way to make rice. The soaking time really does make a difference. So much flavor and takes a rice side dish to the next level!