Chicken Coconut Rice

Curried chicken on a bed of coconut rice

When I was little, I had a very active imagination and instead of practicing my cursive or memorizing times tables, I’d often doze off, letting my day dreams pull me down the rows of faux wood desks and out of the pale green classroom. To this day, my cursive is atrocious and my ability to recite times tables stops in the 2’s. Luckily, my overactive imagination now helps in the kitchen as a source of inspiration.

While making the passionfruit granola this afternoon, the apartment filled with the aromas of a lush tropical garden and I soon found myself being whisked off to a warm steamy jungle with unfamiliar foliage and intoxicating aromas. This dish is the product of my mid afternoon day dream and while it’s not authentic to any place in the real world, it was the national dish in the land of my dreams.

Chicken marinating in spices and yogurt

The chicken is marinated in a spicy yogurt mixture and steams atop a bed of rice that’s been par-boiled in sweet spices. Because they’re fried first, the chicken thighs have a nice brown exterior, and the gentle steam keeps the meat moist and incredibly tender as they cook. In the middle of the aromatic rice, there’s a golden layer of caramelized onions, ginger, chilies and coconut that adds a sweet, spicy, flavour bomb into each bite of rice. The coconut milk lends a creaminess that helps bring the flavours and textures together in a balanced way.

The key to getting the great flavour is to make sure the water you cook the rice in is sufficiently salted and spiced. Caramelizing the onion/ginger/coconut mixture is also crucial for the flavour, so make sure you take the full 20-30 minutes it takes to get them nice and brown.

Layer of caramelized onions, coconut and chiles on rice

In terms of preparation, it’s similar to the chicken biryani I made a few months ago, but the flavours are really quite different. Next time I make this, I’m going to add some raisins to the onion mixture for some added sweetness.

2 C Basmati rice

4 chicken thighs
2 Tbs plain yogurt
1 Tbs garam masala
1 tsp ground coriander seed
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 cloves garlic minced
2 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp kosher salt (less if you’re using table salt)
pepper

2 large onions sliced thin
1 Tbs ginger
2 small Serrano chilies minced with seeds
1/2 C shredded unsweetened coconut.

3 qt water
3 Tbs kosher salt
1 cinnamon stick
10 cardamom pods cracked
12 cloves
1 bay leaf

1 1/4 C coconut milk

Thai basil minced for garnish

Soak the rice in water for at least 2 hours.

Wash the chicken and dry thoroughly with paper towels. Remove any excess bits of fat or skin then make the marinade by combining the yogurt, garam masala, coriander, cinnamon, garlic ginger, salt and pepper in a bowl. Thoroughly coat the chicken with the marinade, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Heat a pan over medium heat and add a generous splash of oil. Fry the onions and ginger along with a generous pinch of salt until the onions are are just starting to brown. Add the chilies and coconut and continue frying stirring constantly until the whole mixture is a nice golden brown. Taste and add additional salt to taste. Transfer to a bowl, scraping as much off the pan as you can.

Heat 3 qts of water along with the salt, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and bay leaf until the water is boiling and has taken on a brown color from the spices. Drain the soaking rice and add to the boiling water. Cover with a lid and cook for 5 minutes, stirring once. Drain the rice and pick out the spices.

Heat a medium sauce pan that’s big enough to fit all the chicken in a single layer over medium heat. Add a splash of oil and fry the chicken until brown on one side (6 to 7 minutes). Flip and brown the other side. Transfer the chicken to a plate and drain off any excess oil.

Add half the rice to the pan you fried the chicken in then spread the coconut/onion mixture over the rice. Cover with the rest of the rice and pour the coconut milk over the rice. Top with the chicken and any collected juices, cover the pot with a lid, and put over medium high heat. Once you hear the coconut milk boiling, turn the heat down to medium low and maintain a gentle simmer. Do not take the lid off while cooking as the trapped heat is necessary to cook the chicken. Simmer for about 20 minutes or until there is no liquid left.

To serve, plate the rice making sure to get the middle and bottom layers and top with a piece of chicken. Finish with a sprinkle of Thai basil and serve with chutney or sambal.

  • http://souvlakiforthesoul.com/ Peter G

    Your dreams and daydreams always produce great, tasty recipes! I love this!

  • http://souvlakiforthesoul.com Peter G

    Your dreams and daydreams always produce great, tasty recipes! I love this!

  • http://chefholly.typepad.com/holly_hadsell_el_hajji/2009/03/foodalogue-stop-india.html Holly

    Sounds great, next time instead of raisins maybe try dried papaya or mango. Just a thought from somebody that does not like raisins that much.

  • http://chefholly.typepad.com/holly_hadsell_el_hajji/2009/03/foodalogue-stop-india.html Holly

    Sounds great, next time instead of raisins maybe try dried papaya or mango. Just a thought from somebody that does not like raisins that much.

  • http://onlinepastrychef.wordpress.com/ Jenni

    Too many people are tied to dishes from real places. Then, Unpleasant Arguments erupt about the “correct” way of making said dish. Long live the National Dish of Marcnorecipes!

  • http://onlinepastrychef.wordpress.com Jenni

    Too many people are tied to dishes from real places. Then, Unpleasant Arguments erupt about the “correct” way of making said dish. Long live the National Dish of Marcnorecipes!

  • http://newlywedcooking.blogspot.com/ sharon

    Oh, this dish looks simply heavenly. I bet your house smelled wonderful!

  • http://newlywedcooking.blogspot.com sharon

    Oh, this dish looks simply heavenly. I bet your house smelled wonderful!

  • http://www.angelasfoodlove.com/ Angela

    I love these flavor combinations. The dish looks absolutely delicious. I am book-marking and making this. Thanks!

  • http://www.angelasfoodlove.com Angela

    I love these flavor combinations. The dish looks absolutely delicious. I am book-marking and making this. Thanks!

  • http://www.figandcherry.com/ Christie @ Fig & Cherry

    Absolutely outstanding! So many layers of complimentary flavours. Nice job :)

  • http://www.figandcherry.com Christie @ Fig & Cherry

    Absolutely outstanding! So many layers of complimentary flavours. Nice job :)

  • http://www.brooklynfarmhouse.com/ megan (brooklyn farmhouse)

    Delicious flavor combination. My husband hates coconut, which is a terrible tragedy for me – I love any and all coconut-flavored foods. This seems like it might be a subtle coconut flavor, so maybe I can slip it past him.

    • marc

      You actually might be able to get away with it here. The spices really cover up any coconutty flavour. The only thing that might give it away is the texture in the coconut/onion mixture…

  • http://www.brooklynfarmhouse.com megan (brooklyn farmhouse)

    Delicious flavor combination. My husband hates coconut, which is a terrible tragedy for me – I love any and all coconut-flavored foods. This seems like it might be a subtle coconut flavor, so maybe I can slip it past him.

    • marc

      You actually might be able to get away with it here. The spices really cover up any coconutty flavour. The only thing that might give it away is the texture in the coconut/onion mixture…

  • http://www.mouthwateringpage.info/ Pooja

    hi,

    I like chicken , your recipes is looking too tasty , i will try this at my home, thanks for new taste

  • http://www.mouthwateringpage.info Pooja

    hi,

    I like chicken , your recipes is looking too tasty , i will try this at my home, thanks for new taste

  • http://www.megansmunchies.com/ Meg

    Looks delicious. I love anything with coconut.

  • http://www.megansmunchies.com/ Meg

    Looks delicious. I love anything with coconut.

  • http://anediblesymphony.blogspot.com/ Muneeba

    Oh I have to try this one too, Marc! Will let you know how it turns out … am very excited about it!

  • http://anediblesymphony.blogspot.com Muneeba

    Oh I have to try this one too, Marc! Will let you know how it turns out … am very excited about it!

  • Jenny

    We just made and ate this tonight. It was DELICIOUS! We had this with a side of Indian cabbage and mango chutney, which is key. I think with chutney the raisins aren’t needed.

    The other thing I had to watch out for is the rice burning on the bottom. Luckily I turned the flame off just in time for a dark brown crunchy bottom.

    I would be proud to serve this to friends. Thanks so much Marc!

  • Jenny

    We just made and ate this tonight. It was DELICIOUS! We had this with a side of Indian cabbage and mango chutney, which is key. I think with chutney the raisins aren’t needed.

    The other thing I had to watch out for is the rice burning on the bottom. Luckily I turned the flame off just in time for a dark brown crunchy bottom.

    I would be proud to serve this to friends. Thanks so much Marc!

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  • Argelia

    Hello
    I live in Mexico and its really hard for me to get the cardamomo seeds..
    i will try to make this dish today, and will let you know how it goes :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/tuckeramy Amy Tucker

    I made this last night. It was delicious. However, I have some suggestions for anyone thinking of making this. First of all, don’t try to sear the chicken with skin on after marinating it in the yogurt mixture. It will stick like a you-know-what and the yogurt will burn. When I make this again, I will just pull the skin off the chicken thighs.

    DEFINITELY follow Mark’s recommendation to really seriously brown the onion and coconut mixture. It really makes the dish complete.

    I would also put all the spices into a bouquet garni next time. It was a PITA to pick them all out of hot rice.

    This was so interesting to make. I was worried because I thought all the components on their own were too strongly flavored (the rice is SUPER salty when it comes out of the par boil, for example), but they all meshed really well once they cooked together with the coconut milk. I will most certainly make this again, but will make a few changes to make the recipe a bit simpler.

    Thanks for the great recipes! I just stumbled onto your site and am having a foodie crush. :)

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  • Heather

    I just made this last night and it was outstanding! I even left out half of the ingredients… I only use curry powder, never garam masala… they are not the same thing where I’m from… maybe next time I will try the recipe as is… Soooo good! Thanks.

Welcome!

I'm Marc, and I want to teach you some basic techniques and give you the confidence and inspiration so that you can cook without recipes too!