Coconut basmati rice gives a rich, delicious flavor to your everyday rice side dish. It’s SO easy to make with a few ingredients like coconut milk, it’ll become a part of your rotation!
Basmati with coconut milk is a versatile side dish so it goes with not only Indian dishes but also many other global dishes.
If you are tired of plain rice this aromatic rice is ready with a handful of ingredients to treat your taste buds with extra flavor.
What makes it so good?
- It is not mushy, so the grains remain separated
- The rice is fluffy when cooked
- A floral, nutty aroma
- Delicious, almost buttery taste!
Basmati coconut rice is an easy recipe I’m sure you’ll come back to!
Why you will love this recipe
Simple ingredients | No fancy ingredients needed! Big flavor with simple ingredients.
Quick to prepare | Ready in under 30 minutes without a great deal of active time.
Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free | Suitable for all diet types
Note: This recipe covers white basmati rice in coconut milk. Jeera rice and Mint Rice are excellent examples of flavored white basmati rice. Brown basmati rice is cooked a little differently. If you are in a pinch, use a basmati substitute such as Sona Masoori Rice!
Below are key ingredient notes. Full ingredients and directions are in the printable recipe card at the end of the post.
Basmati rice: White basmati rice is used. Using good quality basmati is important. Keep an eye out for long-grain, aged basmati rice.
– Aged basmati rice is better because it produces a lighter and fluffier grain which is key to the best basmati rice.
– I like the India Gate brand best. Find it easily at your local Indian grocery store or online.
Coconut oil: Adds to a rich coconut taste. You can also substitute with ghee or oil.
Coconut milk: Canned full-fat coconut milk is used here. Light coconut milk can also be used.
– For a lighter taste, you could use coconut milk from a carton. But then skip the water and do two cups of a carton of coconut milk.
– Note it is unsweetened coconut milk!
Ginger: I keep frozen blended ginger on hand. That’s what I add to give some depth of flavor.
Green chili: A little bit of heat comes from green chili. I make they are not too spicy.
Cashews: This provides a bit of crunch and texture to the rice.
I like to keep the added flavors to a minimum. So, they complement the coconut rice but don’t over power it!
Depending on what you are serving this basmati rice in coconut milk with, you can change up the ingredients.
While I like to keep the other spices to a minimum, you can definitely add more spices to the oil at the beginning of the recipe. Some examples include:
- Cinnamon sticks
- Cumin seeds
- Bay leaf
- Cardamom pods
Small pieces of fruit add a delicious burst of flavor and contrasting texture:
Pineapple and mango are two great options!
Finely chopped onions can be added to the oil at the beginning of the recipe.
You could also garnish with some spring onion greens.
4. Toasted Coconut
In place of cashews, add some toasted coconut flakes for texture and to avoid nuts if you have an allergy.
5. Other Rice Types
You can make this easy coconut rice with a variety of rice types. Plain white rice,long grain, jasmine, rice or brown rice works. But the cooking time will vary.
A few things are on your prep list:
- Wash the rice: Remove excess starch by washing the dry grains until the water goes from cloudy to clear. I usually wash mine 4-5 times to remove extra starch.
The easiest way to wash basmati rice is to use a mesh colander to rinse until water runs clear.
- Cut the green chili: Wash and slit the chili in half. Cut into ½ inch size pieces. This makes it easy to spot and remove if you want to.
Remove seeds if you don’t want it too spicy.
- Chop cilantro: Wash and chop cilantro leaves for garnish.
The traditional way of adding flavor is to do a tadka or tempering of oil with spices. This tadka (heated oil with spices) is done first in the pot into which your rice grains will be added. Tadkas are a standard part of Indian cooking.
Cashews are fried. Green chilies and ginger are sauteed in coconut oil. This infused the oil with flavor.
Then rinsed basmati rice grains, coconut milk, and water are added to the pot and simmered until it’s cooked.
1.Heat coconut oil in a non-stick pot on medium heat until it melts. Then, add cashews and fry until golden brown. About 3-4 minutes. Remove using a slotted spoon and set aside.
2. Add slit green chilies to heated oil. Turn the gas to between low-medium.
3.After a minute, add crushed ginger to the pan and give it a good mix. Let cook for 1-1½ minutes.
4. Add washed, drained white basmati rice to the pan. Mix well. Toast the rice for about 3 minutes. Mix intermittently.
5. Add coconut milk, water, and salt to the pot. Let the mixture come to a simmer.
6. Once it comes to a simmer, place the cover on the pot and let it cook for about 10 minutes. (If your pot cover does not have a hole for steam to come out, make sure to turn down the gas lower so it doesn’t overflow).
7. After about 10 minutes, check the pot. If you tilt it to the side and you don’t see liquid it will be cooked. See first picture below for what mine looked like.
8. Cover it and let it rest for 10 minutes. This is key to finishing the cooking process. See 2nd picture below (on right to see how it looks after the pot rests covered for 10 minutes.
After the rest period, you will notice the grains have slightly turned up and excess moisture has evaporated.
Fluff rice with a fork. Garnish the rice with the fried cashews and chopped cilantro.
- Wash thoroughly – removing excess starch is important. I wash a minimum of 5 times or until the water runs clear in a colander.
- Coat basmati grains in heated ghee or oil before adding water to the pot (optionally temper the oil/ghee for MORE flavor)
- Look for visual cues that the rice is cooked (see picture below)
If you notice each grain looks separated and slightly turned up in the above picture, that is a sign the rice is fully cooked with separated grains. In Gujarati, you would say “kheeligya.” Meaning the rice “bloomed.”
Coconut milk rice can also be made in an InstantPot or pressure cooker.
Coconut basmati rice can be stored in the fridge for 4-5 days in an airtight container. When reheating, add a tablespoon of water (or a teaspoon if you don’t have much leftover).
This will help ensure the rice doesn’t taste dry after reheating it.
It’s a fave in my family to have this with Chana Masala!
It’s a perfect accompaniment to Indian and Asian dishes. I especially love it with Thai dishes.
Have you tried this coconut basmati rice recipe? If so, I would greatly appreciate it if you could leave a comment and rate it with stars. It would mean a lot to me to hear how it turned out. If you’re on Instagram, please tag me so I can see your creation. Thank you for your support!
Coconut Basmati Rice
- 1 medium pot with a lid I used non-stick
- 1½ tablespoons coconut oil or ghee or other oil
- 10-12 cashews optional for texture, can also use toasted coconut chips
- 1 green chili
- 1 tablespoon ginger (blended) About 1 inch
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup basmati rice aged basmati is always best
- 1 can coconut milk 13.5 fluid oz or 400 ml
- ½ cup water
- 2 sprigs cilantro washed, leaves removed, chopped for garnish
- Prep: Wash basmati rice grains very well to remove starch. Drain and set aside. Wash and chop green chilies and cilantro.
- Heat coconut oil in non-stick pot on medium heat until it melts. Then, add cashews and fry until golden brown. About 3-4 minutes. Remove using a slotted spoon and set aside.
- Add slit green chilies to heated oil. Turn gas to between low-medium.
- After a minute, add crushed ginger to pan and give it a good mix. Let cook 1-1½ minutes.
- Add washed, drained white basmati rice to the pan. Mix well. Toast the rice for about 3 minutes. Mix intermittently.
- Add coconut milk, water, and salt to the pot. Let mixture come to a simmer.
- Once it comes to a simmer, place cover on pot and let it cook about 10 minutes. (If your pot cover does not have a hole for steam to come out, make sure to turn down gas lower so it doesn't overflow).
- After about 10 minutes, check the pot. If you tilt it to the side and you don't see liquid it will be cooked. Cover it and let it rest 10 minutes. This is key to finish the cooking process.
- After the rest period, you will notice the grains have slightly turned out and excess moisture has evaporated. Fluff rice with a fork. Garnish the rice with the fried cashews and chopped cilantro.