Michael Mina shares the secret to light, fluffy coconut rice that's never sticky or clumpy.
Fragrant basmati rice has a floral aroma and firm, even grains. Cooking it in coconut water perfumes it further without weighing it down. Almonds and toasted coconut echo the natural sweetness of the rice and bring a toothsome crunch to the dish. Dried figs, dried mangos and dried sour cherries, which are rehydrated with coconut water, add plump, juicy bursts of sweetness and tartness to the rice. Lime zest brightens the flavor and gives a hint of acidity that balances all the other ingredients.
- Rinse and repeat. Rinse the rice several times in cold running water. This simple step will result in fluffier cooked rice with a more consistent texture.
- Plan ahead. The nuts and coconut can be toasted well in advance – either over low heat on the stove top or in a 325°F oven, stirring often to assure an even color.
- Dice advice. Dried fruit tends to be sticky and difficult to cut, but you can dice them easily if you occasionally wipe the sugars off the knife blade with a warm, wet towel.
- Don’t peek! Once rice comes to a light boil or heavy simmer, immediately cover and turn heat to lowest setting possible. You don’t want to release steam from the pot, so it’s best not to stir or check for doneness. Once rice is cooked and rested, cover loosely and keep warm.
This tool is one we find especially helpful when making this dish.
1. Heavy pot with tightly fitting lid. A heavy pot helps to cook the rice evenly and an airtight lid prevents steam from escaping. If you do not have a lid, you can use tinfoil as a substitute cover.
The list below includes all the equipment you’ll want to make this dish.
- Heavy sauce pot (12-inch wide by 10-inch deep) with lid (or tinfoil)
- Small bowl
- Plastic wrap
- Small pot
- Large bowl
- Baking sheet
- 2 cups basmati rice
- 1/3 cup diced dried mango (1/4-inch dice)
- 1/3 cup diced dried figs
- 1/3 cup dried sour cherries (or unsweetened cranberries), cut in half
- 3 cups plus 1 cup unsweetened coconut water
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
- 1/2 cup flaked unsweetened coconut, toasted
- 1 tablespoon lime zest
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Yield: 4 servings (with leftovers)
Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Rinse the rice under cold running water until the water runs clear. Drain the rinsed rice for at least 10 minutes in a stainer. have the rice sit in the strainer until it is ready to use.
- Place the dried mango, figs and sour cherries (or unsweetened cranberries) in a small bowl.
- Place all four cups of the coconut water in a small pot and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and take one cup of the water to pour over the dried fruit in the bowl. Cover the fruit with plastic wrap and let sit for 20 minutes.
- Add the rice to the pot with the hot coconut water and place the pot over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Bring the mixture to a boil, turn off the heat and cover with a lid or tinfoil.
- Place the covered pot in the oven and cook for 18 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed by the rice. Take the pot out of the oven and leave covered on the stove for 10 minutes.
- Uncover rice, place in a large bowl and add the toasted almonds, toasted coconut and lime zest. Drain the softened fruit carefully to make sure you don’t introduce any more water to the cooked rice and add to the pot. Fluff the rice with a fork and stir to combine with the other ingredients. Adjust the seasoning with salt if needed. You will have enough rice for four with ample leftovers.
Citrus grilled chicken with coconut basmati rice
Simply grilled chicken with lime juice, lime zest and olive oil makes a fine accompaniment to this fluffy, toasty fruit-studded rice.