Recipe: Coconut Rice

First of all, let me just come out and admit that I am not the best cook (I am better than I was in college though, so I'm elevating), but I LOVE Cameroonian food. It is the best cuisine on the planet, no discussion. Because I love it so much, it only makes sense that I finally learn how to cook the dishes so I can enjoy them. Luckily, my sister is amazing in the kitchen and has been giving me cooking lessons. This week, we made vegetarian coconut rice. Although jollof rice is more popular in Cameroon, coconut rice is still a staple dish...at least in South West Cameroon. I actually prefer it because I love coconuts!

There are many recipes out there, but I'll share the one my sister tweaked to fit her vegan lifestyle. It is also the lazy version because we did not use real tomatoes (also we used coconut milk, not genuine coconuts). This recipe was difficult to write because Cameroonians don't believe in recipes - in the past, every time I asked my mom, grandmother, aunts - and in this case, my sister - for quantities, the answer was always to eyeball it or "I just know how much I need". Anyway, the recipe below is the the very best I can do.

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Ingredients (serving size: 7)

  • 5 1/2 cups of Basmati rice
  • 2 habaneros, each chopped in half
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 small onions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of ginger, chopped
  • 2 small cartons of coconut milk (8.5 fl oz each)
  • 3/4 bottle of pasta sauce (25 fl oz bottle)
  • 6 cherry tomatoes, diced
  • 3 large basil leaves
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 teaspoons of coconut oil oil
  • 3 teaspoons of palm oil
  • 2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons of black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
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Make it: 

  • Heat up coconut up and palm oil at a low temperature.
  • When warm (but not hot), lightly fry onions.
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  • When onions are translucent and golden, add cherry tomatoes and 1 habanero pepper.
  • Increase heat to a medium temperature, and fry for approximately 10 minutes.
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  • Add pasta sauce, cover pot and let it boil for 10 minutes.
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  • Add the 2nd habanero pepper, the garlic and ginger, and stir.
  • Add cayenne pepper, black pepper and salt, but DO NOT MIX.
  • Cover pot  and let it boil for 10 minutes  (Pot remains closed from this step on, unless adding ingredients).
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  • Add the coconut milk.
  • Add basil leaves, bay leaves and kaffir lime leaves.
  • Add 3 cups of cold water to dilute.
  • Let it  boil for 10 minutes.
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  • Wash rice. (We usually wash three to four times)
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  • Add rice and mix it in.
  • Leave to boil for 15 minutes.
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  • Lower the heat to the lowest setting and let it cook for approximately 45 minutes.
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Dinner is served! I ate it with a pork chop because I like meat. I will put up the recipe for that another time. Sorry, no veggies in this meal, but feel free to eat a side of salad.

Let me know if you try this recipe, and how it turned out.