Coconut rice is a favorite at Thai restaurants. I love the stuff. My version uses brown rice instead of the usual white. If you're looking for a flavorful, nutritious side, this just might be the recipe for you. Every single ingredient is good for you. (Except I added a little salt, but that can be omitted, if you prefer.) Brown rice, coconut milk, turmeric, and ginger all have healthy, healing qualities. Unless you're avoiding carbs, with a little portion control this is a guilt-free recipe that is tasty and nutritious.
This rice is good with both Indian and Thai food. We also eat it as a side with grilled chicken or salmon. The rice has a mild flavor that has a hint of sweetness that comes naturally from the coconut milk. There's not a pronounced coconut flavor, though; so even coconut haters (like King-Man) like this rice. It freezes and reheats well, too.
Why brown basmati rice? It's been years since there was any white rice in my kitchen. I initially switched to brown rice for its nutritional benefits, but now I prefer the taste and am especially partial to basmati brown rice.
Coconut Milk is good for you. Although previously believed to be bad for you because of its saturated fat, now it is touted as a super healthy food. That's because it has a kind of saturated fat that quickly turns into energy, instead of being stored as fat like the "bad" saturated fats. Coconut milk is loaded with vitamins and nutrients and can actually boost metabolism and contribute to weight loss. (source)
Although it contains a healthy fat, coconut milk is high in calories. As a compromise in this recipe, I used half full fat coconut milk and half lite coconut milk. That way the rice still has a rich flavor with the health benefits of coconut oil without quite as many calories.
Turmeric sets a new "gold" standard. It gives this rice recipe it's beautiful golden color and is a common ingredient in curries. It also gives American ballpark mustard it's bright yellow color. In addition to it's vibrant color, turmeric is a nutrition powerhouse. (Google "healthiest spices" and turmeric will show up on every list.) It is high in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties. Recent studies suggest it can protect the body against types of lung damage, skin diseases, Alzheimer's disease, heart failure, colitis, stomach ulcers, arthritis and high cholesterol. It also helps treat upset stomach, scabies, diabetes, HIV, and viral infections. (source)
NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION (for 1/2 cup without garnishes): 184 calories, 8.2g fat, 25.7g carbs, 1.7g fiber, .9g sugars, 3.2g protein; Weight Watchers PointsPlus: 5
This recipe is gluten free, vegetarian, and vegan.
Step-by-step photos for making
Golden Coconut Brown Rice
Step 1. Assemble the ingredients.
Step 2: Zest the lemon. I use a handy dandy Microplane.
Step 3. Use a spoon to easily scrape the peel off of the ginger. Then mince it. I used a Microplane for this, too -- it's one of my go-to gizmos that makes so many prep tasks easier.
Step 4. Add the turmeric to some water and whisk it together.
Choose from two cooking methods:
Stove Top or Rice Cooker
Step 5. To prepare the rice for stove-top cooking, add all of the ingredients to a large pan and give it a stir.
Step 6. Cook the rice either on the stove top or in a rice cooker.
Stove Top Method: Bring the pot to a boil, stirring it occasionally. (Because of the coconut milk, this can stick to the bottom of the pot and scorch if it's not stirred periodically.) Lower it to a simmer and cook it uncovered until most of the liquid is gone. Cover it, and cook it on low until the remaining liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender to bite. Remove the bay leaves.
Rice Cooker Method. If you have a rice cooker, this gets even easier. Simply add all of the ingredients to the rice cooker, close the lid, and turn it on. Mine was perfect after it went through the cooking cycle and then softened on the automatic warm setting for an additional half hour.
view on Amazon:
electric rice cooker (An updated version of the older model I have; large enough to make a full batch of this coconut rice)
Not only is this rice flavorful, it's also beautiful--don't you think? That golden color sets it apart from plain ol' white or brown rice. If you are feeding people who are resistant to eating brown rice over white, you can totally fool them with this recipe. With its golden color and rich coconut milk flavor, many would assume that it's made with white rice. That makes this a great introduction to brown rice, if you haven't made the switch yet.
GARNISHES & ADD-INs: I like to top my rice with macadamia nuts and cilantro. These are optional, of course. You can substitute other nuts, too. Cashews are also good with this rice. Parsley can be used instead of cilantro. There are lots of stir-in options too: garbanzo beans, sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, olives, basil (or other herbs)...the list goes on. Use your imagination!
MAKE AHEAD & FREEZING TIPS:
HANDY GADGET TIP: I use a Baggy Rack (pictured below) for filling Ziploc bags with rice. It's such a clever little gadget that's like having an extra pair of hands, and it folds flat for easy storage. Baggy Racks are so handy and inexpensive, that I bought them for stocking stuffer gifts last year--big hit!
BIG OR SMALL BATCH: I like to make a big batch of this rice and freeze it to have on hand for a variety of meals. If you don't have freezer space to do that and prefer to make a smaller batch, I've got you covered. My printable recipe at the end of this post lists ingredients for a big batch that makes 15 cups or a smaller batch that makes 7.5 cups.
Make it a Yummy day!
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