I am not used to cooking with coconut milk. We have never used much of coconut milk in our cooking at home, and till very recently, I didn’t even know how to make use of it. But then, since I am on a never-ending quest to try cooking with new ingredients, I picked up a box of coconut milk recently, while grocery shopping.
Once home, I suddenly remembered one of my aunts making some kind of dish with rice and coconut milk. She was called up immediately, and her secret recipe was demanded. It turned out that she makes a very simple biryani using only coconut milk, chilly paste, rice, onions, bay leaves, and cinnamon. I wanted to add some vegetables to her recipe, some cardamom, and some ginger and garlic. I hesitatingly tried out my version of my aunt’s recipe which, surprisingly, turned out beautifully. Beginner’s luck, maybe?
My aunt calls this Birinji Rice, as she mainly uses bay leaves for the spice. I prefer calling it Coconut Milk Biryani, aka Thengai Paal Biryani in Tamil, because my version is more like a biryani, with a lot of veggies in it.
The biryani went on to become an instant hit at home, and I am sure it is going to be a regular in our kitchen henceforth.
This is a mildly spiced biryani, which is very easy to make. Once you have the vegetables chopped and ready, it takes only a few minutes to put together. This is a one-pot meal, one that you can serve for lunch or dinner.
Here is how I make it…
Ingredients (serves 2):
1 glass rice
1 glass coconut milk
2 medium-sized onions, chopped length-wise
1 medium-sized carrot, peeled and chopped into batons
10-12 French beans, tops, ends and strings removed and chopped into batons
6-8 large florets of cauliflower
A handful of fresh green peas
1 small capsicum, chopped into large pieces
1 medium-sized potato, peeled and chopped into large pieces
1 small bunch of fresh coriander leaves, chopped finely
Salt, to taste
2 tablespoons oil
2 1-inch pieces of cinnamon
2 bay leaves
A pinch of asafoetida
A 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped into small pieces
5-6 big cloves of garlic, peeled
4 green chillies, with the tops removed, chopped into small pieces
- Wash the rice thoroughly. Place the rice in a colander, and let all the excess water drain away. Keep aside.
- Grind the chopped green chillies, garlic cloves, and chopped ginger to a paste in a mixer, adding very little water. Keep aside.
- Heat the oil in a pressure cooker. Add the asafoetida, cloves, cinnamon, bay leaves, and cardamom. Fry for just a minute.
- Now, add the chopped onions to the pressure cooker. Fry till they turn slightly brown in colour, on a high flame.
- Now, add the ginger-chilly-garlic paste. Fry for a minute.
- Add all the chopped vegetables (carrot, potato, cauliflower, French beans, capsicum) and the green peas. Stirring continuously, cook for a minute or two.
- Add the washed and drained rice. Cook everything for a couple of minutes, stirring continuously.
- Now, add the coconut milk and 1 glass of water. Add salt to taste. Mix well.
- Close the pressure cooker, and let the rice cook on a high flame for 2 whistles.
- When all the steam has escaped, open the pressure cooker. Garnish the rice with the fresh, finely chopped coriander leaves. Serve hot.
- I used Dabur Home-Made coconut milk, because I am usually too pressed for time and didn’t want to make it at home. If you want to, you can make it yourself. Here is a step-by-step guide.
- If you would like a slightly spicier dish, you could add just a dash of red chilli powder along with the salt. Do not add more than a dash of it, as that might cause the biryani to lose its pretty white colour. I use 4 green chillies – if you want, you could use more.
- We like having this biryani by itself, without any accompaniment. You could even serve it with vegetable kurma.
- I use ordinary rice to make this biryani. You could even use Basmati rice.
- Normally I use 3.5 glasses of water to cook 1 glass of rice, for plain white rice. For this biryani, I used 1 glass of coconut milk and 1.5 glasses of water for 1 glass of rice. You could change the rice:water ratio as per your preferences.
Have you ever had biryani with coconut milk? How did you like it?
What do you use coconut milk in, at home? Tell me all about it!