Coconut Milk Rice was made very rarely at home because of the labour involved in scraping the coconut and grinding it in an attukal (traditional stone mortar and pestle) soaking it in hot water and extracting the milk. My mother’s recipe gives details about the first extract of the coconut milk which is thick, and the second and third extracts which are thinner. My mother had a maid those days, and it was she who used to get the coconut milk ready. Later on I tried making it using an electric wet grinder, but it was very time consuming doing it on my own. And then appeared on the supermarket shelves, coconut milk in tetra packs, which is a boon to all those who do not have time at their disposal. However, I turned out to be allergic to Dabur Coconut Milk and the brand Kara is prohibitively expensive. Apart from this, once a pack is opened you have to use the entire contents. Therefore Maggi Coconut Milk powder, which comes in sachets, is very convenient. I reconstitute the quantity I need and store the rest in an airtight container. I use a very small quantity of turmeric powder to give the delicate pale yellow colour.
I find that many Western writers who have tried Indian recipes use way too much turmeric powder and, for that matter, more spices than we do even in India! The quantities I use in my recipes should give you an idea of how much is really required to achieve a balanced flavour.
- 3 C Basmati Rice
- 15 tiny Garlic cloves, peeled
- ⅛ tsp Turmeric powder
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 1 stick Cinnamon (broken into 4 pieces)
- 4 Cloves
- 4 Cardamoms
- 1 ½ C thick Coconut Milk
- 5 C Water, boiling hot
- ¼ C Ghee
- 3 tsp Salt, or to taste
- Wash the basmati rice and drain in a colander.
- Heat the ghee in a heavy, large casserole or cooking pot with a tight-fitting lid.
- Lower heat and fry the garlic. Do not brown, the garlic should be tender.
- Immediately add the cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and bay leaves.
- As soon as the cloves begin to pop add the basmati rice.
- Stir till all the grains are coated with ghee.
- Add the boiling water, coconut milk, turmeric powder and salt and stir.
- Bring to boil, lower the heat, cover and cook till the water is almost absorbed.
- Stir gently, cover it again and cook till all the water is absorbed.
- The rice to water ratio I have used in this recipe is for the Double Deer Basmati Rice. The proportion may vary from brand to brand.
- If you don’t like the garlic, you don’t have to eat it; but without it the taste of the coconut milk rice will be flat.