Coconut Milk Rice (Coconut Milk Pulao)

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Coconut Milk Rice is a flavorful and tasty pulao featuring rice, onions, coconut milk, mixed vegetables, and flavored with aromatic spices and herbs. The dish is easy to make, but has a surprising mélange of flavors that can be savored just as it is or with a robust curry, a salad or any other side of your choice. What’s best is the fact that it’s not just vegetarian, but a vegan-friendly recipe too. Best for those times, when you don’t really want to go intricate on cooking yet want to enjoy a deliciously wholesome meal.

coconut milk pulao, coconut milk rice

More On Coconut Milk Rice

I often opt for pulao and other rice-based dishes since they are quick and easy to prepare. The main difference between this pulao and the others that I have posted is the addition of coconut milk. You can easily call it as the USP of this dish.

Another delicious rice recipe made with coconut milk is this Brinji Rice, which is from the cuisine of Tamil Nadu. Many variants of coconut milk rice preparations are made in the western coastal and southern parts of India. They vary from spiced and savory to sweeter versions.

The aroma, flavor and texture that the addition of coconut milk along with the choicest of spices bring in this pulao is unique. Thus, making it a one-pot rice dish of star quality. You will experience the difference between this and the regular pulao variants once you try it. So, when you want to add a delicate creamy richness and a unique flavor to your food, go for coconut milk.

To strengthen the nutritional quotient of this pulao, I have also added an array of veggies in it. But this is completely your choice and you can avoid adding vegetables. You can also pick and choose which vegetables to be added according to what your palate likes.

You can serve the Coconut Milk Rice with a quick salad, raita or even a robust shorba gravy. This rice based coconut pilaf also pairs really well with a dal fry or dal tadka.

Step-by-Step Guide

How to make Coconut Milk Rice

Prep Work

1. Rinse 1 cup basmati rice or 200 grams basmati rice very well in water, till the water runs clear of the starch. Soak the rice in sufficient water for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, drain all the water and set the soaked rice aside.

soaking basmati rice in a bowl

2. When the rice is soaking, prep the vegetables by chopping them. Slice 1 medium to large onion thinly (1 cup thinly sliced onions). Crush 1 inch ginger, 2 to 3 garlic cloves and 1 green chili (about 1 teaspoon chopped green chillies) in a mortar-pestle.

crushing ginger, garlic cloves, green chili to make paste

Sauté Spices, Aromatics

3. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 2 litre stove-top pressure cooker and add the following whole spices:

  • 3 to 4 cloves
  • 3 to 4 green cardamoms
  • 1 inch cinnamon
  • 1 single strand of mace
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds

Fry the spices on low heat till they splutter and are fragrant.

sautéing spices in a pressure cooker - cloves, green cardamoms, cinnamon, mace, cumin seeds

4. Now add the sliced onions and 5 to 6 curry leaves. If you do not have curry leaves, then add 1 medium sized tej patta (Indian bay leaf) when you fry the whole spices in step 3 above.

adding onions and curry leaves

5. Stir and mix very well.

mixing onions and curry leaves with spices

6. Sauté stirring often on low to medium-low heat till the onions turn light golden or are translucent.

sautéing onion-spice mixture to make coconut milk rice

7. Then add the crushed ginger-garlic-green chili paste. Stir and sauté for about 10 to 12 seconds or till the raw aroma of ginger and garlic goes away.

adding ginger-garlic-green chilie paste

8. Now add 10 to 12 cashews, which have been chopped. At this point you can also add about 1 tablespoon of golden raisins if you like

adding cashews

9. Stir and mix again.

mixing onion, spice mixture

Add Veggies, Rice, Coconut Milk

10. Now add the mixed vegetables. You can add ¾ to 1 cup of any mixed vegetables, either fresh or frozen. I added ½ cup green peas and ⅓ cup chopped french beans.

In the recipe video I have also added carrots and potatoes together with the green peas and french beans.

adding vegetables - green peas, chopped french beans

11. Stir and sauté the vegetables for a minute.

sautéing vegetables

12. Then add the soaked basmati rice.

adding soaked basmati rice to make coconut milk rice

13. Gently mix and stir the basmati rice with the rest of the ingredients.

mixing basmati rice with other ingredients

14. Now pour ¾ cup of thick coconut milk. You can also add 1 cup thick coconut milk. Here I have used canned coconut milk, but you can use first extract of homemade coconut milk.

thick coconut milk on rice to make coconut milk pulao

15. Add 1 to 1.25 cups water. If using 1 cup of coconut milk, then add 0.75 to 1 cup water.

Remember to add the correct amount of liquids depending on the quality and type of rice you are using. For 1 cup of basmati rice, you need to add about 1.75 to 2 cups of the liquids.

water mixed with the rice, coconut milk and other ingredients

Cook Coconut Milk Pulao

16. Stir well. Then season with salt as required. Taste the stock, it should feel slightly salty.

Cover and pressure cook Coconut Milk Rice for 1 to 2 whistles or for 8 to 9 minutes on medium to medium-high heat. I pressure cooked for 2 whistles.

adding salt

17. When the pressure settles down naturally in the cooker, open the lid and gently fluff the rice.

cooked coconut milk rice in the pressure cooker

18. Garnish with some chopped coriander or mint leaves. Serve Coconut Milk Rice with salad, raita, pickle or a shorba gravy.

coconut milk rice served in a green plate with a side of onion salad in a green bowl

Expert Tips

  1. Make sure to rinse the aged basmati rice till the water runs clear of the starch. If you don’t have basmati rice, you can use any variety of non-sticky short-grained or medium-grained rice.
  2. You can add tej patta (Indian bay leaf) in case you don’t have curry leaves.
  3. Adding cashews or raisins while making the pulao is optional. You can skip them if you do not prefer them.
  4. You can skip adding the vegetables in this pulao or add vegetables of your choice – like cauliflower, green peas, carrot, bell pepper, baby corn, sweet corn, broccoli, etc.
  5. The recipe can be made with both canned coconut milk or homemade coconut milk. For homemade coconut milk, use the first extract or the first press of the extracted coconut milk.
  6. Instead of making the coconut milk pulao in a stove-top pressure cooker, you can also make the recipe in the Instant pot by adding water as needed. You can also cook the rice in a pan on the stove-top.

More Indian Rice Recipes To Try!

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coconut milk rice served on a green plate

Coconut Milk Rice (Coconut Milk Pulao)

Coconut Milk Rice is a mild, fragrant pulao made with coconut milk, onions, herbs, spices and mixed vegetables. What’s best is the fact that it’s not just vegetarian, but a vegan-friendly recipe too.
4.91 from 11 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Cuisine South Indian
Course Main Course
Diet Gluten Free, Vegan
Difficulty Level Moderate
Servings 3
Units

Ingredients

  • 1 cup basmati rice – 200 grams
  • 1 cup thinly sliced onions or 1 medium to large onion
  • 1 inch ginger – crushed to a paste in mortar-pestle
  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves – small to medium-sized
  • 1 green chili or 1 teaspoon chopped green chilli
  • ½ cup green peas use about ¾ to 1 cup of any mixed chopped vegetables – fresh or frozen
  • cup chopped french beans
  • 5 to 6 curry leaves or 1 medium sized tej patta (Indian bay leaf)
  • 3 to 4 cloves
  • 3 to 4 green cardamoms
  • 1 inch cinnamon
  • 1 single strand of mace
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ¾ cup Coconut Milk (Thick)
  • 1 to 1.25 cups water or add as required
  • 2 tablespoon oil
  • few chopped coriander leaves (cilantro leaves) or mint leaves for garnish
  • salt as required

Instructions
 

Preparation

  • Rinse basmati rice very well in water till the water runs clear of the starch. Soak the rice in enough water for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, drain the rice and keep aside.
  • When the rice is soaking, prep the vegetables by chopping them. Slice 1 medium to large onion thinly (1 cup thinly sliced onions). Crush 1 inch ginger + 2 to 3 garlic cloves + 1 green chili in a mortar-pestle. Set aside.

Making coconut milk rice

  • Heat oil in a 2 litre pressure cooker and add the whole spices – cloves, green cardamoms, cinnamon, mace strand and cumin seeds. Fry the spices till they splutter and become fragrant on a low heat.
  • Now add the thinly sliced onions and curry leaves. If you do not have curry leaves, then add 1 medium sized tej patta when you fry the whole spices. Stir very well.
  • Sauté till the onions turn light golden or translucent stirring often on a low to medium-low heat.
  • Then add the crushed ginger-garlic-green chili paste. Stir and sauté for 10 to 12 seconds till the raw aroma of ginger and garlic goes away.
  • Now add cashews, which have been chopped. Cashews are optional and you can skip them. Stir again.
  • Now add the mixed vegetables. You can add any mixed vegetables that you like. I added green peas and chopped french beans.
  • Stir and sauté the vegetables for a minute.
  • Then add the soaked basmati rice.
  • Gently mix and stir the basmati rice with the rest of the ingredients.

Cooking coconut milk rice

  • Now pour ¾ cup of thick coconut milk. You can also add 1 cup thick coconut milk.
  • Add 1 to 1.25 cups water. Stir and mix well. If using 1 cup coconut milk, then add 0.75 to 1 cup water.
  • Then season with salt. Taste the stock , it should feel slightly salty.
  • Cover and pressure cook for 1 to 2 whistles or for 8 to 9 minutes on medium to medium-high heat.
  • When the pressure settles down naturally, then only open the lid and gently fluff the rice.
  • Garnish with some chopped coriander or mint leaves. Serve coconut milk rice with salad, raita, pickle or a biryani shorba gravy.

Video

Notes

  • Use aged basmati rice for the best texture and flavor. Any Indian variety of non-sticky short-grained or medium-grained rice also can be used in the recipe. 
  • Feel free to include vegetable of your choice or you can skip them altogether. 
  • Remember to add the correct amount of liquids (both coconut milk and water) depending on the quality and type of rice will be using. In this recipe, for 1 cup of basmati rice, you need to add about 1.75 to 2 cups of the liquids.
  • This recipe can be easily doubled or tripled to make a larger serving. You can also halve the recipe. 

Nutrition Info (Approximate values)

Nutrition Facts
Coconut Milk Rice (Coconut Milk Pulao)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 484 Calories from Fat 198
% Daily Value*
Fat 22g34%
Saturated Fat 12g75%
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 9g
Sodium 458mg20%
Potassium 409mg12%
Carbohydrates 65g22%
Fiber 5g21%
Sugar 5g6%
Protein 8g16%
Vitamin A 346IU7%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 1mg67%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 1mg59%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 21mg105%
Vitamin B6 1mg50%
Vitamin C 52mg63%
Vitamin E 4mg27%
Vitamin K 9µg9%
Calcium 80mg8%
Vitamin B9 (Folate) 239µg60%
Iron 4mg22%
Magnesium 68mg17%
Phosphorus 182mg18%
Zinc 2mg13%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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This coconut milk rice post from the blog archives first published in October 2015 has been republished and updated on 15 February 2022.

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Meet Dassana

Welcome to Dassana's Veg Recipes. I share vegetarian recipes from India & around the World. Having been cooking for decades and with a professional background in cooking & baking, I help you to make your cooking journey easier with my tried and tested recipes showcased with step by step photos & plenty of tips & suggestions.

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25 Comments

  1. Very flavorful pulao with minimum ingredients! Thank you for the recipe! 🙂5 stars

    1. Yes it is a very tasty pulao. Thanks for the feedback and rating. Welcome!

  2. Was a lil sceptical to try out this recipe… But had leftover coconut milk and needed some quick with rice… N wow! What a meal it turned out to be … Thank you for the lovely recipe5 stars