Coconut rice

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Nisha Thomas uses up leftover basmati rice to make a creamy and delicious coconut rice recipe. Served with cashews for extra crunch, this wonderful side will go perfectly with a curry, some pickle and poppadoms.

First published in 2015

On the days I make rice, I make a bit extra and end up using it for variety rice, which is what we refer to rice that has been flavoured with various ingredients – lemon rice, tamarind rice, curd rice, tomato rice, coriander rice, to name but a few. These are perfect made with rice that is a day old, and even better cold out of the refrigerator. You get the variety of a new dish and it’s also like a one-pot meal – just pair it with pickle and poppadom and you are sorted.

This coconut rice recipe is an absolute favourite and it makes its way into my kitchen at least twice a month. It’s very light and summery, not spiced too strongly and is lenient on your stomach. So after a day of indulging, this coconut rice can come to your rescue. That said, you can also pair it with a flavourful curry and it would serve as a great main meal at a dinner party.

I have mentioned urad dal in the recipe, which adds a bite to the dish, but this can be omitted if you don’t have any. If you do have mung dal or toor dal, they could be used as well, but the cashew nuts should add enough bite to the rice. Coconut, which is the star ingredient of the dish, can be substituted with desiccated coconut – if you’re using this instead of fresh, only roast it in the pan for 3–4 minutes. Grated coconut is ideal, though – it can be found in the freezer section of Indian grocery stores.





In a large wok, heat together the ghee and vegetable oil. Add the mustard seeds and once they begin to pop, add the dried red chillies and curry leaves. Stir until they become almost crisp
Add the urad dal, cashew nuts and asafoetida and continue stirring, making sure the dal and cashew nuts get nicely roasted and golden brown in colour, but do not burn – if they burn the whole dish will have a smoky flavour
Add the coconut and keep stirring on a medium heat until the wetness from the coconut disappears and it becomes fragrant and lightly toasted – it should turn reddish-brown in colour. This should take 7–8 minutes, you want the mix to be almost dry. Keep an eye on the coconut as it can burn quickly once toasted
Add the rice, breaking down the chunks carefully as you go. Once well-mixed, season with salt and remove from the heat
Transfer into a serving plate and serve hot with pickle and poppadoms
First published in 2015

Nisha is a freelance writer, avid food blogger and wannabe food photographer.

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