Crispy Turmeric Rice with Coconut & Cilantro


Rice can easily be a neglected afterthought, resulting in a plain and boring side dish with the sole purpose of adding substance to a meal.  Luckily, with a bit of time and care, rice can be a showstopper. Here’s some tips to take your rice from bland to flavorful:

First, the basics:

  1. Start with a good variety. Brown or white basmati is my favorite for texture.

  2. When cooking your rice, add 1/2 teaspoon salt and a scant tablespoon of evoo into the water (for 1 cup dry rice). 

After you have cooked rice (see my post for more details and specifics):

  1. Sauté cooked rice in an aromatic oil to boost flavor. In a saute pan, combine butter/coconut oil/ghee with some fresh turmeric, ginger, and/or garlic. Then add rice and stir to coat thoroughly.

  2. Crisp it up! I’m still playing around with my favorite method to do this (and combining different ones), but generally this involves letting the rice sit in the above oil (covered) without stirring for a while- see my post for details.

  3. Top it with fresh herbs, seeds, or nuts. Here I topped with some cilantro and toasted coconut.

This method of crispy rice is modified from Bon Appetit- you can see here for original instructions. The main things I did here was 1) add more flavor with oil/seasonings and 2) keep the covering of the rice simple (the original method involves a towel- I tried and liked this method, but didn’t think was as necessary)

Crispy Turmeric Rice with Coconut & Cilantro

  • 2 cups cooked rice of your choice (I like basmati- brown or white)

  • 1-2 tablespoons coconut oil, ghee, or butter (any will work- they key is to use something that can handle some high heat and/or brown nicely)

  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated turmeric

  • 1 shallot, diced

  • 1 tablespoon milk (can be regular or nut-based, but should not have any flavor or sweetener)

  • sea salt, to taste

  • handful of fresh cilantro leaves

  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted (see below on how to toast coconut)

HOW TO TOAST COCONUT: Place a medium skillet over low heat. Add coconut flakes (no oil). Occasionally toss until light brown. Watch closely and keep heat low as they can go from lightly toasted to burnt somewhat quickly.

  1. Get a large skillet- the wider the base, the better. More surface area on the base means more rice will be crispy and flavorful, rather than steamed.

  2. Place large skillet over medium heat and add oil. There should be enough oil to generously coat bottom of pan.

  3. Once warm, add in shallot and fresh turmeric. Saute until shallot is lightly browned, about 3 minutes.

  4. Add in rice, 1 tablespoon of water, 1 tablespoon of milk, and sea salt to taste. Stir to combine and then press rice into bottom of pan in as even of a layer as possible. Now’s the time to NOT stir. Cover pan and let sit until rice at bottom has browned, about 5-8 minutes. It’s okay if a little bit gets more charred than other parts.

  5. Once bottom has browned, toss rice all together- either in a serving bowl or in the same skillet. Top with fresh cilantro and coconut.

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