coconut milk pulao

Coconut Milk Pulao

Updated: July 25, 2022, By Swasthi, Comments, Jump to Recipe

Coconut Milk Pulao is a delicious one pot rice dish made with rice, coconut milk, spices, herbs and mixed vegetables. This coconut milk pulao is a popular meal made often in the coastal regions of South India, where coconuts are grown in abundance. It is made for a special meal to serve with a curry of choice. Coconut milk pulao is similar to the regular Pulao but cooked with coconut milk. Needless to say, this is nutty, fragrant and delicious in every bite and coconut milk makes all the difference to the dish.

coconut milk pulao

Coconut Milk Pulao

I share the traditional Andhra style coconut milk pulao recipe in this post along with instructions to make it in a pot, pressure cooker and instant pot.

In South India, locally grown aged regular rice is used to make this dish. However feel free to use any kind of rice that you have. Keeping the rice grains separate, grainy yet fully cooked is very important. So use only aged rice as this kind of rice cooks up perfectly to fluffy grains without turning sticky and mushy.


You will need some basic whole spices like bay leaf, cinnamon, cloves, cardamoms, mace and shahi jeera (or cumin seeds). I love the addition of crushed fennel seeds and black pepper as they elevate the flavors of the coconut milk pulao.

Mixed veggies like carrots, peas, beans and potatoes are used. To save some prep time you can also use frozen mix veggies like sweet corn, carrots, peas and beans. This can also be made with a single veggie of choice instead of mixed vegetables.

As with any other pulao, this one is also flavored with fresh mint leaves. If you want you may add coriander leaves too.

My Mom would always add some cashews to this pulao and sometimes even soya chunks. A lot of times she also skipped all the veggies and used only cashews to make cashew pulao. However you may leave out both nuts and soya chunks.

I use fresh homemade coconut milk, a mix of thick and thin milk which I detailed below in the stepwise instructions. If using canned coconut milk, dilute it with water as mentioned in the recipe notes below.

This coconut milk pulao can be eaten as such or with a bowl of yogurt but it is usually eaten with a curry like Vegetable Kurma, Potato Kurma, Egg Curry, Shorba or Chicken Curry. If you don’t intend to make an elaborate meal, simply make some raita. This Onion raita and Cucumber raita go well.

How to Make Coconut Milk Pulao (Stepwise Photos)


1. Add 1 cup rice to a bowl and rinse it well at least thrice.

2. Drain the water and soak it for 15 mins. Do not over soak the rice. After 15 mins, drain the rice to a colander.

3. Meanwhile rinse all the veggies required and prepare them

  • 1 small onion sliced
  • 1 green chilli slit or chopped (skip for kids)
  • 1 medium carrot (¼ cup diced)
  • 1 medium potato (¼ cup diced)
  • 6 to 7 green beans (¼ cup chopped)
  • ¼ cup green peas (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 to 1 ½ teaspoon ginger garlic paste
  • ¼ cup mint leaves chopped finely (handful pudina leaves)
  • If you want to use cashews, split open 10 whole nuts and set aside.

4. Bring out all the spices required.

  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 green cardamoms
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 inch cinnamon
  • 1 star anise
  • ¾ teaspoon shahi jeera (substitute with cumin seeds)
  • 1 strand mace
  • 1 black cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon crushed fennel seeds (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed black pepper

5. If you want to make fresh coconut milk, add 125 to 150 grams (1 ¼ to 1 ½ cups grated coconut) to a grinder, pour 1 cup water and grind. Strain this, press down with a spoon. Add back the coconut to the grinder and pour another ½ cup water. Grind and repeat the straining.

Measure this and pour more plain water to make it 2 cups coconut milk for pot method. If using IP you will only need 1 ¼ cup and for the Indian Stovetop Cooker with whistle, you will need only 1¾ cup. (I don’t use a cloth to strain.)

Make Coconut Milk Pulao

6. Heat 2 tablespoons ghee in a pot or pressure cooker. When the ghee turns hot, add all the whole spices and let them sizzle.

7. Add onions and fry them until light golden.

8. Stir in cashews.

9. Add ginger garlic and green chilli.

10. Fry until aromatic, add fennel powder and black pepper.

11. Add all the veggies and mint leaves. Stir and fry for 2 to 3 mins.

12. Pour the coconut milk and add ½ teaspoon salt. Stir and taste test for salt. The coconut milk should taste slightly salt.

Note: You will use canned coconut milk and water in 1:1 ratio. If using homemade coconut milk, you will use a mix of first and second extract (thick and thin). 2 cups liquid for pot, 1¾ cups for pressure cooker & 1¼ cups for IP.

13. Bring the coconut milk to a rolling boil on a high heat. Add the drained rice and stir well.

14. Cover and cook on a medium to low heat until all of the coconut milk is absorbed and the rice is cooked to fluffy. In between you may stir once. Avoid stirring often because you don’t want to break the rice.

If cooking in a pressure cooker, cook on a medium heat until you hear 1 whistle. When the pressure drops open the lid.

If using an instant pot, set the timer to 5 mins. Let the pressure release for 3 to 4 mins. Quick release the rest. Gently fluff up the rice. If the top layer is undercooked, remove the steel insert, fluff up and cover with a plate for 10 mins.

14. Fluff up the coconut milk pulao with a fork. Cover and rest for 10 mins.

Serve coconut milk pulao with a curry or raita.

coconut milk pulao

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Recipe Card

coconut milk pulao

Coconut Milk Pulao

5 from 28 votes
Traditional South Indian Coconut milk pulao is a one pot delicious dish of rice, vegetables, spices and herbs cooked with coconut milk. Serve it with any curry, raita or plain yogurt.
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For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card

Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Total Time40 minutes

Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )

  • 1 cup rice (aged rice – basmati or any short rice)
  • 2 cups coconut milk (1 cup canned milk, 1 cup water, refer notes)
  • 2 tablespoons ghee (use oil to make it vegan)
  • 1 small onion sliced
  • 1 green chilli (slit or chopped, skip for kids)
  • ¼ cup carrot (1 medium)
  • ¼ cup potato (1 medium)
  • ¼ cup green beans (6 to 7)
  • ¼ cup green peas (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 to 1 ½ teaspoon ginger garlic paste
  • ¼ cup mint leaves chopped finely (handful pudina leaves)
  • ½ to ¾ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
  • 10 cashewnuts (20 split, optional)


  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 green cardamoms
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 inch cinnamon
  • 1 star anise
  • ¾ teaspoon shahi jeera (substitute with cumin seeds)
  • 1 strand mace
  • 1 black cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon crushed fennel seeds (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed black pepper (optional)


  • Rinse rice well thrice and soak for 15 mins. Drain to a colander and set aside. Do not over soak.
  • While the rice soaks, prepare the veggies and the spices.

How to Make Coconut Milk Pulao

  • Heat ghee in a pot or a pressure cooker.
  • Add all the whole spices. When they begin to sizzle add onions and saute them until deep golden but not burnt.
  • Stir in cashews, fennel seeds and black pepper if using.
  • Add ginger garlic and green chilies. Saute for 30 to 60 seconds until aromatic.
  • Add all the chopped veggies and mint. Fry for 1 to 2 mins until aromatic.
  • Pour coconut milk (mixed with water) and add salt. Stir and taste test to check the salt levels. Add more salt if required. The coconut milk should be slightly salty.
  • Bring the coconut milk to a rolling boil on a high heat.
  • Stir in the drained rice.
  • If cooking in a regular pot, reduce the heat to low or medium and cover. Cook until all of the coconut milk is absorbed & the rice is cooked fully yet not mushy.
  • To cook in a pressure cooker, cover and cook on a medium heat until you hear 1 whistle. Let the pressure drop and open the lid.
  • Fluff up the coconut milk pulao with a fork. Cover and rest for 5 mins before serving with a curry or raita.
  • If using an Instant pot, perform all the above steps on a saute mode. Secure the IP, position the steam release valve to sealing and press the pressure cooker. Set the timer to 5 mins. Let the pressure release for 3 to 4 mins. Release the rest manually.
  • Fluff up with a fork. If the top layer is too dry and looks under cooked, remove the steel insert from the IP. Mix gently with a fork and cover with a plate. Let rest for 5 mins.


  1. Coconut Milk: I use fresh coconut milk extracted from 1 ¼ to 1 ½ cups grated coconut. More details in the stepwise photos. To use canned coconut milk you will dilute with water in 1:1 ratio. 
  2. Liquid: To cook in pot you will need 2 cups liquid (coconut milk + water). To cook in a Indian pressure cooker you will use 1¾ cups liquid. If using a IP use 1¼ cups.
  3. The amount of liquid mentioned works with aged basmati rice only. If using any other kind of rice, make sure you use the same amount of liquid as you would use to cook plain rice. Use any aged rice only and avoid newly harvested rice.
  4. To double or triple the recipe you will double or triple all the ingredients. To make in IP (2x), I release the pressure immediately and invert entire pot of pulao in a tray and spread it with a fork.
  5. If you soak the rice too long, the rice grains will break & the rice turns mushy.

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)

Nutrition Facts
Coconut Milk Pulao
Amount Per Serving
Calories 693 Calories from Fat 261
% Daily Value*
Fat 29g45%
Saturated Fat 23g144%
Trans Fat 0.01g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 3g
Sodium 133mg6%
Potassium 727mg21%
Carbohydrates 97g32%
Fiber 7g29%
Sugar 6g7%
Protein 13g26%
Vitamin A 6216IU124%
Vitamin C 21mg25%
Calcium 118mg12%
Iron 7mg39%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tried this recipe?Mention @SwasthisRecipes or tag #swasthisrecipes!

© Swasthi’s Recipes

Coconut Milk Pulao first published in March 2013. Updated & Republished in July 2022.

Coconut Milk Pulao

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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5 stars
I always follow your recipe and it tastes amazing. You have a beautiful way of presenting dishes.

I love your style of recipies . I follow it always . Thank you so much

5 stars
Tried and it tasted really yummmy .. thank you for great recipes

Can i skip the veggies in this recipe..and do i have to powder the fennel seeds?

I would love to make this recipe in instantpot. Can u suggest the settings and quantity of water to use?

Hi I tried this recipe coconut milk was broken like milk once it came to boil.

5 stars
I am 17 years old and I am very passionate about cooking. I was very much intrigued by your website ma’am and I must say your recipes are amazing. I did coconut pulao with vegetable kurma as a side and I loved the taste of both of them. I am delighted by the fact that you give us pictures of every instruction which makes it easy to follow the recipe. the instructions and the recipes are simple and easy to cook but taste heavenly.
you are amazing.
I just faced one problem with my execution of pulao recipe. I cooked it using a pressure cooker and I closed the lid for 5 mins as you said. I even removed the pulao before it started whistling but when I opened the cooker the underside was burnt. since I removed the pulao quickly enough there was no burnt flavor. but everytime i cook rice the same thing happens. the underside gets burnt and the rice is not as separate as your picture it becomes quite mushy. how can I prevent it? how can I stop burning the underside and make the rice as good as yours?

Same happened with me, I kept flame on medium and low, still the rice got sticky and burnt from bottom !! The taste is very good tough !! Will try cooking it in open next time or cook rice first and the give a tadka with rest of the masala !!

Just love your recipes??

Very good

5 stars
Tried it today and turned out great
Felt new taste unlike my regular pulao

Pulav looks yummy….going to try it today

Realy amazing….

I tried this recipe and it was the 1st time i made pulav n it turned out absolutely amazing… The aroma cause f d coconut milk is so darn gd…

Awesome swathi mam…realt i wodered about your cookings..kep it up..well done

5 stars
Awesome recipes

Have tried the recepie and it really came out very tasty:)

Pulao looks so yummy! Drooling over here!

healthy n yumm pulao:)

Beautiful pulao,who will say no to it..Excellent dish for sunday lunch

i love this cooker version..

simple and aromatic pulao, love to try it…

I love this , Swasthi! Two bowls for me, please!