Coconut rice is an easy and flavorful rice dish made with fresh grated coconut, tempering spices, curry leaves and rice. It is one of the most basic South Indian foods made for a meal during festivals and occasions. This simple yet delicious coconut rice is flavorful and easy to make. The ingredients like curry leaves, fresh grated coconut, chilies, ginger and hing impart wonderful and unique flavors to the dish.
It is also known as Thengai sadam and kobbari annam in the South Indian regional languages.
It is usually served without any side or accompaniment. However any curry goes really well with this. My mom always made this with a Vegetable kurma or Mix veg curry. Some papads, veg salad & plain yogurt on the side would make a great complete meal.
About coconut rice
There are 2 ways a coconut rice is made in South India. The first one is just made by tempering all the spices and curry leaves. To this coconut and precooked rice are mixed. This method of making is the easiest if you have some precooked rice and fresh grated coconut. I have shared this method in this post.
The other version is a one pot dish where the rice is cooked with spices and coconut milk. You can find that version here – Coconut milk rice.
The recipe shared here is a simple one made with basic ingredients. Sometimes I also like adding a handful of grated carrot or little grated raw mango or a tbsp of lemon juice, mint leaves or coriander leaves.
How to make coconut rice (stepwise photos)
You can skip the preparation section if you have precooked and cooled rice that is grainy. I have shown below how to cook it perfectly to make coconut rice.
1. You can use any kind of rice. Usually in South India ponni or sona masuri is used.
2. Rinse 1 cup rice well a few times and drain the water. Cook the rice in what ever way you like. I usually wash rice thrice and then soak for sometime.
3. Cook rice Method 1: Drain the water and bring 2 cups of water to a rolling boil. Add the drained rice and cook covered on a low flame until fully cooked. Rice must be fully cooked but firm and grainy.
4. Cook rice Method 2: You can also pressure cook in your preferred method. I pressure cook for 2 whistles if using ponni or sona masuri aged rice. If using basmati then you can cook in a pot, then drain off the water. Or pressure cook for 1 whistle with 1¾ cup water.
5. Once fully cooked, fluff it up with a fork and cool completely.
Temper coconut rice
6. Heat 2 tablespoons oil or ghee in a pan. Add the following:
- ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds (optional)
- 1 tablespoon chana dal
- ½ tablespoon urad dal
- 12 to 15 cashews
- 1 broken dried red chilli. Saute until the dals turn golden, then add
- 1 sprig curry leaves
- 2 slit green chilies
- 1 teaspoon chopped ginger. If you prefer to keep the cashews crunchy, fry them first and remove to a plate. Then make the tempering.
7. On a low flame fry until the leaves turn crisp, then pour 2 to 3 tbsps water. The water will evaporate soon and soften the chana dal and urad dal. If you want to soften the dals more, add another 2 to 3 tbsps water. When the water evaporates completely, add 1 pinch of hing. I had some bits of coconut left over, I chopped it and added as well. I fried until it turned aromatic and golden.
8. Add 1 to 1½ cups coconut, ½ teaspoon salt and cooled rice. If using frozen coconut, fry the coconut first for a while until hot. Then add rice and salt. Since I used fresh coconut, I prefer not to fry the coconut as the heat in the pan is good enough to partially warm it up.
9. Switch off the stove immediately and mix everything well. Taste test and add more salt.
Serve coconut rice with a simple curry or yogurt and a veg salad.
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- 1 cup uncooked rice (any kind, or 3 to 4 cups cooked rice)
- 1 to 1½ cup coconut grated (fresh or frozen) (adjust to taste)
- ½ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
- 1 to 2 green chili (slit or chopped)
- 1 dried red chili (broken to 2 pieces) (optional)
- 2 tablespoons oil or ghee
- ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds (optional)
- 1 pinch hing (asafoetida)
- 1 tablespoon chana dal (bengal gram)
- ½ tablespoon urad dal (skinned split black lentils)
- 1 teaspoon ginger (fine chopped)
- 12 to 15 cashewnuts or peanuts
- Wash rice at least thrice and drain the water. If using basmati rice, soak it for 20 to 30 mins.
- To cook rice in pot, bring 2 cups water to a rolling boil and add the rice. Cook covered on a low heat until fully done but not mushy.
- To pressure cook basmat rice, pour 1¾ cups water & pressure cook for 1 whistle. To pressure cook normal rice, pour 2 cups & pressure cook for 2 whistles. The rice must be grainy and not mushy. When the pressure releases, open the lid.
- Fluff up the cooked rice with a fork and cool completely.
- Slit the green chilies, fine chop ginger, and grate the coconut. If using frozen coconut, break up the lumps and loosen the coconut.
Making coconut rice
- Pour 2 tablespoons ghee or oil to a pan and heat it.
- Fry cashews or peanuts until golden. Remove to a plate and set aside.
- Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, red chilli, chana dal and urad dal. Saute them and fry until the dals turn golden and aromatic.
- Then add ginger, slit green chilli & curry leaves. Saute for 30 to 60 seconds until the curry leaves turn crisp. Add hing.
- Optional – Quickly pour 2 to 3 tablespoons water to the pan. This will soften the dals and bring out the flavors of the ginger and curry leaves. If you want your dal to be very soft, then you can add little more water. Cook until all of the water evaporates.
- Then add fresh coconut and sprinkle salt on it. Then add rice. Off the heat. If using frozen coconut, then saute the coconut a bit until it becomes hot. Then add the rice.
- Mix well and taste test. Add more salt if needed. Serve coconut rice with a simple curry or plain yogurt.
- Avoid using mushy rice.
- You can adjust the amount of coconut to your liking
- Add some lemon juice if you like.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
© Swasthi’s Recipes