Coconut Rice Recipe

Updated: August 7, 2022, By Swasthi

Coconut Rice is an easy and flavorful Asian 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.

coconut rice

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.

I mostly make this for the kids lunch box and pack with sliced carrots and cucumbers. Kurma curries like potato kurma, paneer kurma, soya chunks kurma also go well with this.

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.

More Coconut Recipes
Coconut milk rice
8 Coconut chutney recipes
Easy Coconut ladoo
Coconut burfi

Photo Guide

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.

Rice in a pot for cooking

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.

rinsing rice to cook

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.

cooking basmati rice to make coconut rice

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.

pressure cooking rice

5. Once fully cooked, fluff it up with a fork and cool completely.

Cooling cooked basmati rice

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.
tempering spices in oil

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.

tempering with crisp fried curry leaves in a pan

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.

adding coconut to the pan

9. Switch off the stove immediately and mix everything well. Taste test and add more salt.

mixing rice with tempering

Serve coconut rice with a simple curry or yogurt and a veg salad.

coconut rice tengai sadam

More Rice recipes
Lemon rice
Ven pongal
Curd rice
Ghee rice
Peanut rice

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Recipe Card

coconut rice tengai sadam

Coconut Rice Recipe (Thengai Sadam)

5 from 121 votes
This South Indian coconut rice is super quick to make if you have some precooked rice, tempering spices & grated fresh coconut. Serve it with any curry or plain yogurt.
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For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card

Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time25 minutes

Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )

  • 1 cup uncooked aged rice (any kind, or 3 to 4 cups cooked rice)
  • 2 cups water (1¾ cups – pressure cooker, 1¼ cups IP, read notes)
  • 1 to 1½ cup coconut grated (fresh or frozen or shredded coconut) (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 water to a rolling boil and add the rice. Cook covered on a low heat until fully done but not mushy.
  • To pressure cook basmati rice, pour water & pressure cook for 1 whistle. To pressure cook normal rice, pour more water & 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.

How to make Coconut Rice

  • Pour 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 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 or frozen 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. The amount of water mentioned in the recipe is for aged basmati rice. If using any other kind, simply use the same amount of water as you use to cook plain steamed rice.
  • You can adjust the amount of coconut to your liking
  • Add some lemon juice if you like.

NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)

Nutrition Facts
Coconut Rice Recipe (Thengai Sadam)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 513 Calories from Fat 234
% Daily Value*
Fat 26g40%
Saturated Fat 13g81%
Sodium 451mg20%
Potassium 310mg9%
Carbohydrates 62g21%
Fiber 7g29%
Sugar 4g4%
Protein 9g18%
Vitamin C 3mg4%
Calcium 23mg2%
Iron 3mg17%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tried this recipe?Mention @SwasthisRecipes or tag #swasthisrecipes!

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About Swasthi

I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills. More about me

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Excited to try this recipe. Do I cook the urad or add them uncooked?
Thank you

I love your all recipes
Thank you so much for your help

5 stars
Thanks for this recipe. It indeed came out well. Everybody at home liked it.

5 stars
My lecturer gave us a group assignment on how to prepare coconut rice and I didn’t regret visiting this page because I got all the information needed and I feel like I’m already perfect in preparing coconut rice just by reading the instructions you gave. Thank you so much….

This recipe lacks the details on coconut and one who has never cooked with coconut won’t know what kind to use. Isn’t it supposed to be written as raw coconut meat in place of fresh or frozen coconut? Also what kind of green chilies do you use? Are the mustard seeds brown or black? I would appreciate more details on those before I can try.

5 stars
I made this for a temple event to feed a small crowd. We had some chickpea sundal on the side and every one loved it. Can’t thank you for all the recipes.

5 stars
I just made this coconut rice and it tastes delicious. I used red lentils to temper as I had only that on hand. I also didn’t have curry leaves but it tasted excellent anyway with all the ginger and chili peppers. I cooked the rice in my rice cooker before adding to the tempering. We love this with your eggplant curry. Thank you for the work you do.

5 stars
Yummy.. tried and came out well

5 stars
Hi Swasthi. We’re new to cooking coconut rice. We got turned on to coconut rice at a local restaurant and couldn’t wait to try it on our own. We’ve made your recipe and really like it. I wanted to let you know there might be a glitch in your recipe multiplier. When I hit the x2 button, the ingredients change but the amount of water for cooking the rice stayed the same. We cook lots of rice and are aware of the 2:1 ration but others may not be.
Thanks again for the great recipe….Pam

5 stars
Hai Swasthi, i am A big fan of south Indian food, especially your recipes are a super-duper hit with my family. This coconut rice with your chettinad curry is our favorite

5 stars
Swasthi, in addition to your lovely lemon rice recipe., i cooked the coconut rice this weekend. Best of three I have cooked so far. Not sure why I just did not go to yours in the first place :). Yours is going into the keepers file – as with so many of your recipes. All power to you Swasthi. Warm regards, Sandy

5 stars
I have tried 3 coconut rice recipes. Cooked the 2nd a week ago – then a week later yours. Should have tried yours first but I now have some context. Yours have been the best – now become the coconut rice ‘keeper’. My recipe book keeps filling with your recipes. So thankful.

5 stars
I made this coconut rice tonight for my husband and I and it was a super-duper hit. Definitely an elevated version of the recipe I have been making with coconut milk. Thank you for sharing such a hearty meal.

5 stars
HI there
thank you for all your yummilicious recepies 😀


Hi, can we use decicated coconut . What changes could be done ?

5 stars
I had some fresh coconut and was looking for a recipe to use it. I found this recipe and prepared it last night. It’s so easy and so tasty! My husband loved it. I can’t wait to try some of your other recipes. Thank you!

Thank you so much for sharing your recipe! I am writing for advice about using frozen coconut. I have some that is in small slices, not grated. Do you have any recommendations for how to prepare it before using it in the rice? I was thinking of frying it slightly and then grinding it.

Thanku so nuch, if came out really good first time only…

5 stars
I make this all the time now! Thanks so much for your efforts!

You recipe are soo good . You are indirectly a member of the family to me who is suggesting me the recipe, thankyou me and my family lovin it ❤

5 stars