This easy Burmese coconut rice recipe makes a deliciously addictive turmeric-tinted rice, made with coconut milk and scented with cinnamon and cloves, that’s made for rich Burmese curries. Adapted from a traditional Burmese recipe in Mi Mi Khaing’s Burmese cookbook ‘Cook and Entertain the Burmese Way’, which calls for cooking over embers, but indicates an electric rice cooker is also suitable.
In brackets after the title of this Burmese coconut rice recipe in Cook and Entertain the Burmese Way (1978), cookbook author Mi Mi Khaing writes “suitable for electric rice cookers”. At the end of step 2 she advises that this recipe can be made in a rice cooker by omitting step 5, which calls for placing the rice pot “over embers only and put red-hot coals over lid”.
As we currently can’t cook on the traditional clay brazier that we had on the balcony at our last apartment – it’s unfortunately not allowed in the new building we moved to last month – we decided to try making this Burmese coconut rice recipe in the rice cooker and were so excited with the results, we thought we’d share it with you.
If you’re a fan of this style of fragrant rice dish, then you’re going to adore this easy coconut rice recipe. While it might lack the smoky aromas you’d get from cooking the rice over fire, it still has plenty of perfume and flavour from the coconut milk, cloves, cinnamon, and bay leaves.
This easy Burmese coconut rice recipe is next in our series of recipes from Myanmar aimed at drawing attention to the tragic situation in the country, just in case you’re not aware of what’s going on in Myanmar, as sadly it seems to have fallen off the pages of most mainstream media publications. So far we’ve published recipes for a Shan vermicelli noodle salad and a Shan tomato salad recipe.
If you aren’t aware, in February a coup d’état ousted the democratically elected government, which inspired a nationwide civil disobedience movement, to which the military junta responded with horrifying brutality, violence against peaceful protestors, raids on homes of activists and abductions, massacres in the streets, and airstrikes on villages, resulting in thousands of deaths of innocent civilians, including frontline workers.
We’ll soon be publishing a dedicated guide to how to help the people of Myanmar and after we do, we’ll continue to share recipes for our favourite dishes from Myanmar with links to the guide. Until then, we’ll highlight organisations that need support, such as Myanmar Now. The military regime is targeting journalists and the independent news site desperately needs donations to continue its essential reporting work.
Now let me tell you about this absolutely delicious Burmese coconut rice recipe.
Burmese Coconut Rice Recipe – A Traditional Recipe Adapted for the Modern Rice Cooker
One of my favourite things to do in Yangon when we used to travel to Myanmar was to while away some time in the city’s second-hand bookshops. There was a wonderfully dusty and dimly-lit bookshop just around the corner from The Strand, the grand old hotel on the waterfront that has a fascinating history.
On our last trip to Myanmar, I left with a suitcase heaving with books on everything from Mon history and Yangon’s architecture to memoires of Shan princesses and a couple of cookbooks, including this precious albeit modest Burmese cookbook by Mi Mi Khaing.
I adore the book, with its naïve pen and ink drawings of countryside and kitchen scenes, and sections on subjects such as ‘Rice, the Stuff of Life’ and ‘Tongue Titillators and Salivators’ (about preserved fruits!).
The chapter on how to ‘Entertain the Burmese Way’ is fascinating and the section on ‘Menus for Different Occasions’ is super helpful.
One menu was particularly enticing and amongst a handful of dishes it included this heavenly Burmese coconut rice recipe, along with a recipe for a rich oily Indian-style Burmese chicken curry, which we’ll also share. For now, just a few tips for making this Burmese coconut rice recipe.
Tips to Making this Burmese Coconut Rice Recipe
I only have a few tips for making this Burmese coconut rice recipe. Firstly, if you don’t own a rice cooker, you really should get one if you cook a lot of Asian food. Rice cookers are not only fabulous for cooking plain steamed rice, but you can cook rice dishes such as this savoury rice in them too, as well as steam veggies, bao, etc, which a lot of home cooks don’t realise they can do.
We have a very basic old-fashioned rice cooker here in Cambodia, where we’ve never had access to many kitchen brands, but one day we’d love something like this industrial-looking, stainless steel, Cuisinart rice cooker or this more contemporary curvy Cuckoo rice cooker.
The first step in Mi Mi Khaing’s Burmese coconut rice recipe is to “grate coconut and extract milk in this way: put in fine cloth, knead, set aside thick milk. Add ½ cup hot water, knead, set aside liquid. Repeat with more water til total of 8 cups liquid is obtained.”
What the cookbook author is describing is the traditional method of extracting coconut cream (‘the first press’) and coconut milk (‘the second press’) used here in Southeast Asia. If you have access to fresh coconuts, you can try that.
There’s nothing like fresh coconut cream and coconut milk. It’s nowhere near as sweet as the canned stuff. For the “fine cloth”, use muslin, light cotton or linen, and squeeze rather than knead.
Otherwise, open a tin of coconut milk and use the measuring cup that came with your rice cooker to measure the cup of coconut milk and cups of rice. And, yes, you could use coconut cream for an extra rich rice, however, we think it’s delicious enough with coconut milk.
The original recipe calls for ‘onions’ but we recommend purple shallots, as they’re sweeter. It also called for a teaspoon of salt, but we felt that was too much and it was too salty.
I’ve bumped up the spices to compensate for the lack of smoky aromas from those embers and coals. But if you’re up for pressing your own coconut milk, you could also try cooking this Burmese coconut rice recipe over fire…
Burmese Coconut Rice Recipe
- 3 cups jasmine rice
- 1 cup coconut milk use the rice cooker measuring cup
- water after adding the coconut milk, pour water into the rice cooker until it reaches the 3-cup line on the inside of the cooker
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 3 medium purple shallots finely chopped
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 4 cloves
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 4 bay leaves
- Rinse the rice until the water runs clear then transfer to the rice cooker.
- Pour coconut milk into the rice cooker then water until it reaches the 3-cup mark on the interior of the rice cooker.
- Add the vegetable oil, finely chopped purple shallots, salt, spices, and bay leaves, then stir to combine everything well.
- Close the lid of the rice cooker and press ‘cook’.
- Once the rice is cooked, leave for a few minutes before opening the lid and stirring to fluff up the rice. Close the lid again and leave to steam for another ten minutes or so.
- Serve with Burmese curries and refreshing salads to offset the richness.
Please do let us know in the comments below if you make this easy Burmese coconut rice recipe as we’d love to know how it turns out for you.