Coconut Rice | A Classic Anglo-Indian Recipe

Last updated May 31, 2022

What is infinitely better than white rice and tastes like an edible ray of sunshine? 

Why, a steaming platter of 'Yellow Rice', of course! Also, known as 'Coconut Rice' in Anglo-Indian parlance.

Anglo Indian recipe, Yellow rice, Coconut rice, Colonial cuisine, British Raj

Prepared on Sundays and on special occasions in Anglo-Indian kitchens the world over... but also often  on regular days just for the heck of it...  this fragrant heap of golden goodness never fails to make me happy when skies are grey.

A wonderfully aromatic preparation of long grained basmati rice, gently simmered in coconut milk, delicately perfumed with fragrant whole spices of cinnamon, clove and cardamom and finally, topped off with crispy fried onions is a delight for the senses.

I'm sharing my family's Coconut Rice recipe that will not disappoint, along with my secret to an absolutely fluffy, grain-perfect coconut rice. No more mushy, sticky or lumpy rice. Take a good look at the picture, folks!

What to Eat with Coconut Rice

In Anglo Indian kitchens, Yellow Coconut Milk Rice is almost always served along with a juicy meatball curry simmered in coconut milk and spices. Here's my recipe for Ball Curry, if you'd like to give it a try.

Ball curry, coconut rice, kofta curry, mince meat ball curry with cucumber roses
Ball Curry and Coconut Rice

If you don't want to go through the trouble of making a curry, then coconut rice goes just as well with kebabs or meatballs. Serve along with a salad or yoghurt raita.

Coconut rice and meatballs

 Other options to serve with coconut rice are:

What gives Indian Coconut Milk Rice the Yellow Color?

In this recipe for Anglo Indian coconut rice, turmeric is the special, natural ingredient that colors the rice yellow. No artificial food coloring is used. Turmeric is inexpensive and is found in every Indian cook's kitchen, since this spice is well used in Indian cooking.

Saffron can also be used to make yellow rice. Much more expensive than turmeric, saffron imparts a subtle and very lovely flavor to the rice. See my recipe to make fluffy saffron rice with coconut milk.

Note: When making yellow rice, either use turmeric or saffron. Not both together. If you do, you will be wasting your saffron since the turmeric will overpower the delicate saffron flavor.

Coconut Rice or Yellow Rice Recipe


☐  3-4 tablespoons of cooking oil
☐  6 cloves
☐  2 whole green chilies
☐  1 cardamom pod
☐ 1 inch cinnamon stick 
☐  2 cups basmati rice
☐  1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
☐  Salt
☐  3 small onions- sliced (optional)

Step-by-Step Instructions:


Step 1: Prep rice

Wash and soak basmati rice for 30 minutes.


Step 2:  Prepare garnish (optional)

Fry thinly sliced onions until golden brown and keep aside to sprinkle on rice before serving.

Step 3:  Heat liquid

In a saucepan, combine 3 cups of water, 1 cup thin coconut milk and salt. Heat until almost boiling.

Step 4: Fry spices

Heat oil in a large vessel. Add cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and the green chilies. Fry for 1-2 minutes to release the aroma of the spices and green chili. 

Step 5. Cook rice

  • Drain the soaked rice completely. Gently add the rice to the spices and carefully fry it for a 10-15 seconds. Add 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder to the rice.
  • Note: Don't squeeze the rice when draining. It will break. Handle it gently and move it around minimally.
  • Pour the hot liquid into the rice and allow it to bubble uncovered and on high flame. Don't move or stir the rice.
  • As the liquid content starts to reduce, watch for when little holes start to form in the rice- much like little mini volcanoes puffing out steam.

  • When the rice starts getting holes in it, take a little of the fried onions and the oil the onions were fried in and sprinkle it on the top of the rice. 
  • Then cover the vessel with a fitting lid and reduce the flame to very low. Allow the rice to steam undisturbed for 15 minutes.

Step 6: Fluff rice

After 15 minutes, uncover and check the rice. Using a fork, gently move the rice around to fluff it up. If not completely done, cover and let it steam for another 5 minutes.

When done, uncover, fluff up rice gently and let it rest for about 15 minutes before handling. Serve sprinkled with crispy, fried onions.


If you're wondering what Anglo-Indian cuisine is all about, read more about this this hidden culinary gem on Anglo-Indian Cuisine | The Best of East Meets West

To explore all my other Anglo Indian recipes, click on the"ANGLO INDIAN" below.

Enjoyed your visit?

Contact Me


Email *

Message *