The Comfort in Coconut – A South Indian Delight

Coconut Milk Pulao:

This mildly spiced and aromatic coconut milk rice is a perfect tiffin box recipe that is simple and easy to make in under thirty minutes! Loaded with fresh green peas and ghee-roasted cashews with each bite makes it a delicious meal all by itself.  


  • 3 tablespoons ghee, divided 
  • 1 bay leaf 
  • 1/2” cinnamon stick 
  • 3 cloves 
  • 1 star anise 
  • 2 to 3 green cardamom 
  • 2 tablespoon broken cashews 
  • ½ cup peas 
  • ¾ cup thick coconut milk 
  • ½ cup water 
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper, coarsely crushed 
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger powder 
  • ¼ teaspoon fennel powder 
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint leaves 
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander leaves 
  • Salt as required 

For the Rice 

  • 1 cup basmati rice 
  • 1 cup water 


  1. Rinse and wash the basmati rice until the water runs clear of the starch. Soak the rice in 1 cup of water for about 15 – 20 minutes. Drain and keep the rice aside.  
  1. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon ghee on a heavy bottomed pan on a medium flame. Add the cashews, roast until they turn golden brown. Remove and keep aside. 
  1. In the same pan, add another tablespoon of ghee. Add bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cloves, cardamom and star anise.  
  1. As soon as they sizzle and pop, add peas and sauté for a couple of minutes.  Add the drained basmati rice and mix well.  
  1. Mix 3/4 cup thick coconut milk and 1/2 cup water. Reduce the flame and pour this mixture on the pan, stirring constantly. Mix well. 
  1. Add the remaining amount of ghee and spice powders – black pepper powder, ginger powder, fennel powder, salt, coriander leaves and mint leaves. Stir, check for seasoning and adjust.  
  1. Put the lid on and keep it on low-medium flame for about 15 minutes or until the rice is cooked completely.  
  1. Turn off the flame; let it rest and keep it covered for about 5 minutes. Remove the lid; gently fluff the rice grains with a fork and add the roasted cashews. Mix gently.  
  1. Serve it with any spicy gravy, papad and raita. 


  1. The recipe can be directly made in a pressure cooker. Use a stainless steel pressure cooker and cook for 1 whistle or about 5 minutes on high pressure.  
  1. Addition of vegetables – carrots, beans, cauliflower and potatoes are optional.  
  1. If you squeeze fresh coconut milk, use the first extract. Homemade coconut milk is not as thick as store bought. Adjust the quantity of water accordingly.  


Recipe & Images by Nisha Ramesh 

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