Coconut Milk Rice Pilaf with Cilantro Sauce

Coconut Milk Rice Pilaf


  • 1 cup basmati rice, preferably imported
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or coconut oil
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 3 green or white cardamom pods
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 can (13.5 ounces) coconut milk (about 1 3/4 cups)
  • About 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt, or to taste

Cilantro Sauce

  • 1/2 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 1/2 cup packed coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, leaves and tender stems
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons minced jalapeño, to taste


1. Make the pilaf: Place the rice in a bowl and add water to cover. Swirl the water around with a chopstick or the handle of a wooden spoon for about 20 seconds. Strain and discard the water. Set the rice aside.

2. Heat the ghee in a large, deep skillet with a lid until hot. Add the cloves, cardamom, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, and cumin and heat, stirring, for about 30 seconds. Add the rice and stir to coat with the ghee; cook over medium heat until the rice grains begin to turn white, about 1 minute.

3. Pour the coconut milk into a large measuring cup and whisk in enough water to measure 2 cups. Add the coconut milk–water mixture to the rice and bring to a boil. Add the salt and stir once, thoroughly. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until the coconut milk has been absorbed and the rice grains are separate, about 12 minutes. Do not stir. Remove from the heat. Cover and let stand, without stirring, for 10 minutes.

4. Make the Cilantro Sauce: While the rice is cooking, combine the yogurt, cilantro, and jalapeño in a food processor and puree until smooth (there will be tiny flecks of green throughout the yogurt).

5. Spoon the pilaf into a serving dish and drizzle the Cilantro Sauce on top.

Cook time: 
Serves 4

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