This coconut basmati rice is more than just a simple side dish! It is aromatic, fluffy, creamy, delicious, and very easy to make!
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We love simple and healthy rice recipes like this. From our Nigerian chicken jollof rice, to our Instant Pot basmati rice and Kenyan pilau. If you are a fan of easy sides, then you will love this easy recipe.
reasons why this recipe works
- healthy and versatile side dish.
- it's quick and easy to whip up, even on the busiest of days.
- aromatic and flavorful: infused with ingredients like ginger and bay leaves, this coconut basmati rice is fluffy, aromatic and flavorful.
ingredients you will need
This is a summary of the ingredients you will need to make this recipe, along with possible substitutions. Detailed measurements and step-by-step instructions have been provided in the recipe card below.
- ghee, coconut oil, or cooking oil: this is your base for sautéing and infusing flavor into the rice.
- aromatics: cinnamon sticks, and optional cardamom pods, and cumin seeds.
- onion and ginger- use fresh ginger for the best flavour.
- basmati rice: ensure you are using a good quality, aged basmati rice.
- salt to season the rice.
- some bay leaves.
- liquids: a combination of water (not pictured) and full-fat coconut milk to cook and infuse the rice with creamy richness.
- fresh coriander (cilantro): to garnish, but this is optional.
how to make coconut basmati rice
- Start by heating your choice of cooking oil in a deep pot. Next, add your finely chopped onion. Sauté until the onion turns translucent and fragrant.
- Toss in the cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, and cumin seeds, letting them toast until they're beautifully aromatic. Add the ginger, then stir to combine.
- As next, add the basmati rice, season with salt, and top with the bay leaves.
- Now, pour in the water and creamy full-fat coconut milk. Give everything a gentle mix. Seal the pot with a lid, turn down the heat, and let it all simmer.
- Just before the rice is done, I like to reduce the heat to a low and cook until all the liquid evaporates and the rice is tender.
- Once cooked, you want to plate it, and if desired, sprinkle with freshly chopped coriander (cilantro) for garnish before serving.
what to serve it with
Some of my favorite ways of serving this rice include:-
- Grilled proteins: This creamy basmati rice with coconut milk pairs wonderfully with grilled meats such as our grilled beef kabobs, baked curry chicken drumsticks, pan-fried chicken hearts, shrimp, or vegetarian tofu.
- Sauces: Try our pili pili sauce, or homemade nandos peri peri sauce.
- Curries: Butterbean curry, or your favorite Indian or Thai curry.
- Enjoy it with vibrant stir-fried vegetables!
- For a burst of flavor, offer some spicy Indian pickle or sweet-tart chutney on the side.
refrigeration and freezing
And the best part is that you can make this recipe ahead, for consumption later. Simply follow the these instructions:-
- refrigeration: cool the rice to room temperature before refrigerating, store in airtight containers, and consume within 3-5 days.
- freezing: after cooling, portion rice into freezer-safe bags or containers, pressing out excess air. Label with date and store for up to 2 months.
- reheating: defrost the basmati rice in the refrigerator if frozen, then reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop, adding a touch of water or coconut milk if needed for moisture.
- using a mesh colander, thoroughly wash the rice to get rid of excess starch before cooking it.
- I use the cardamom pods and cumin to infuse flavors into the rice. But these are optional. You can also use sliced green chilies, or aromatics like curry leaves, fennel seeds, mace, cloves, curry leaves and cilantro (coriander).
- use good quality basmati rice (see the segment below on the best type of basmati rice to use).
- for a more flavorful rice, temper the spices in cooking oil or ghee, then pour this over the rice.
- for maximum creaminess, use full-fat coconut milk (instead of light coconut milk).
- for an extra burst of color, combine two tablespoons of boiling water with a pinch or two of turmeric and pour this on top of the rice before serving.
frequently asked questions
Water-to-rice Ratio: ensure you're using the right amount of coconut milk and water as too much liquid can make the rice soggy.
Overcooking: you probably over-cooked the rice. Cooking the rice for too long can break down the grains further, leading to a mushy texture.
Rice type: not all rice varieties cook the same, so make sure to use good quality rice. Aged basmati, for instance, requires less water than some other types.
Stirring frequently: excessive stirring can break the rice grains and release more starch, causing stickiness.
Insufficient rinsing: failing to rinse rice well before cooking might leave excess starch on the surface, contributing to a mushy outcome.
Aged basmati: As basmati rice ages, it undergoes natural oxidation, which can intensify its aroma and flavor. Aged rice grains also have a reduced moisture content, making them less sticky when cooked. Additionally, the aging process can reduce the surface starch of the rice grains, which again contributes to less mushiness and a more fluffy rice.
Long-grain varieties: These hold their shape better and tend not to clump together, making them ideal for the creamy consistency of coconut rice.
High-quality brands: brands like Tilda, Royal, Indian gate or Daawat (not sponsored) have a reputation for producing superior basmati rice that cooks uniformly.
White Basmati: while brown basmati is healthier, white basmati rice provides a lighter, fluffier texture ideal for coconut rice.
Purity: ensure the rice is free from contaminants and hasn't been blended with other, lower-quality grains.
more world cuisine recipes
Looking to further explore other recipes from around the world? Dive into our diverse collection of world cuisine recipes!
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Coconut Basmati Rice
- 2 tablespoon coconut oil (ghee, or your favorite cooking oil)
- 2-3 cinnamon sticks
- 3-4 teaspoon cardamom pods (elaichi) (optional - see notes)
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera) (optional - see notes)
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon ginger minced
- 2 cups aged basmati rice - properly cleaned to get rid of excess starch (use good quality rice such as Tilda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 1½ cups water
- 1½ cups full-fat coconut milk (approximately 14oz or 400ml)
- a handful of chopped coriander (cilantro) (optional - to garnish)
- Heat coconut oil or ghee in a medium-sized but deep pot.
- Add the onion, then mix to combine. Saute for 1-2 minutes, or until fragrant and translucent.
- Next add the cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, and cumin seeds and fry for about a minute, so they release their aroma.
- Add ginger, stir, and saute briefly for approximately 30 seconds.
- Next, add the basmati rice, salt, bay leaves, water, and coconut milk, then carefully stir to combine.
- Cover, reduce the heat to a medium-low, and simmer until much of the liquid has evaporated.
- Next, about five minutes before the end of the cooking time, reduce the heat further to a low and cook until all the liquid has evaporated, and the rice is fluffy and tender.
- Once cooked, transfer the basmati rice onto plates, garnish with chopped coriander (cilantro), then serve.
- We use the cardamom pods and cumin to infuse flavors into the rice, but these are optional. You can also use sliced green chilies, or aromatics like fennel seeds, mace, cloves, curry leaves and cilantro (coriander) to infuse flavor.
- I sometimes like to gently fluff the rice with a fork to help further separate the grains, before serving. This is however not necessary if you are using good-quality basmati rice.