Coconut Pilau photo
Coconut Pilau
photo by recipe author

Servings: 2-3
Preparation Time: 1 hour

  • 1 cup dried unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked Basmati or long grain rice
  • 1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil
  • 1 2 inch cinnamon stick (Dalchini), broken
  • 3 clove buds (laung)
  • 4 green cardamom (choti elaichi), crushed
  • 1 star anise (Chakra phool/Anasphool)
  • 1 bay leaf (Tej patta)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds (Jeera)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds (Saunf)
  • 1/4 cup onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 green chilies, slit
  • 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 packed mint leaves (Pudina), roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon coconut flakes for garnish *optional
  • 1 tablespoon Golden raisins *optional
  • Fried shallots for garnish *optional

To make coconut milk – Blend warm water and dried coconut in a blender. Extract the milk in a bowl using a strainer or a cheesecloth. Add more water if needed and squeeze to make 3 cups of coconut milk. This milk can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for 3 days. Since there is no preservative or stabilizers added to the milk, the fat may separate on top of the liquid if left to sit. This is normal. Shake well and mix it back.

Stove top method

1. Wash uncooked rice under running water and keep aside.

2. In a deep sided pot, heat coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add whole spices (cinnamon, cloves, cardamoms, star anise, bay leaf, cumin seeds, fennel seeds). Sauté for a minute or till your kitchen wafts with the sweet aroma of the spice infused coconut oil.

3. Add sliced onions and slit green chillies. When the onions turn golden brown and translucent, add the ginger-garlic paste and sauté till the raw smell disappears. Add turmeric powder and salt as per preference.

4. Add uncooked basmati rice and mix gently. The oil should coat the rice grains. Take care not to break the rice grains while mixing the oil and the rice. Stir occasionally to keep the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

5. Pour the freshly prepared coconut milk into the pot. Add mint leaves and bring the coconut milk to a gentle boil.

6. Stir once and cover pot tightly with a lid. Do not lift the lid to retain the steam inside the pot. Let simmer on medium heat for 15-20 minutes or till the liquid has been absorbed by the rice. Cooking time depends on the variety of rice. Check the rice container for instructions.

7. To check doneness, fluff rice with a fork. Each grain should be soft and should not be clumped. Coconut milk has oil in itself which acts as an emulsifier to prevent clumping of the rice.

8. Remove pot from heat, but keep the lid on till you serve. Remove whole spices before serving. Garnish with roasted cashewnuts and golden raisins and serve hot with your favorite curry.

Rice cooker method

1. Follow the above mentioned steps 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. Place all in the rice cooker. Cover and set to cook.

2. Once the rice cooker switches to ‘warm’ mode, let it stand for another 8 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork and keep it unclumped. Garnish and serve hot.

Coconut milk gives mild sweetness and fragrant aroma. Use of extra virgin coconut oil adds natural flavor with health benefits. Freshly made coconut milk and coconut oil is essential for this recipe. Try not to substitute any other oil in place of coconut oil.

Recipe submitted by Cheryl, Columbus, OH

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