My infatuation with coconut is a recent phenomenon. After turning my nose up at it for years, my favourite baked goods now feature coconut (like these Dulce sin Leche cupcakes, my number one favourite recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World). I also can't enter any sort of Asian-inspired establishment without scouring the menu in search of a coconut curry dish of some sort, my absolute favourite being this peanut curry from Bangkok Cuisine in Kitchener, Ontario.
Coconut itself is something a lot of people have an aversion to, but coconut milk is likely to win over even the most severe coconut skeptics. Especially when paired with noodles or rice, veggies, and tons and tons of curry. The coconut milk gives just the right amount of sweet to counter the bold and spicy flavours courtesy of curry and cardamom.
Speaking of which, cardamom is shockingly expensive. The little jar of it was close to $10.00. Normally, I'm pretty cheap when it comes to kitchen adventures. I still can't bring myself to buy a jar of saffron and I totally use fake vanilla more often than not. But, we make curries so often that cardamom is something we should really have on hand in our house and so Paul made the executive decision and bought a jar.
I made this dish last weekend and paired it with some standard issue tofu, marinated in some tamari and sesame oil and then baked for about a half hour (flipping each piece halfway through).
Indonesian Coconut and Spice Rice
* Adapted slightly from Kitchen Classics Gourmet Vegetarian
1 bunch green onions, diced
1 tbsp canola oil
2 1/2 cups unsalted peanuts, chopped
1 1/2 tbsp shredded coconut
1 cup coconut milk*
2 cups water
4 tbsp curry powder (a little more or less, depending on how strong you want it to be)
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
2 1/2 cups basmati rice
Hot sauce or red pepper flakes, to taste
* This is how much you use for a mild coconut flavour and fresh and fluffy rice. If you like your rice to positively swim in coconut milk like I often do, don't be afraid to put extra coconut milk in and not cook it off completely before serving like I did.
1) Heat the oil in a wok. Add the peanuts and cook over medium heat, stirring often until they turn golden brown. Add the shredded coconut and stir until it darkens lightly and becomes fragrant.
2) Remove the wok from the heated stove element for a few seconds, just enough so that when you pour in the liquid ingredients the peanuts and coconut don't burn. Pour the coconut milk and water into the wok and return to the heated element. Add the curry and green onion and then bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer gently for two minutes. Add the cumin, cardamom and turmeric and bring to a boil again. Add the rice and cook until steam holes appear at the surface of the rice.
3) Cover the wok with a tight fitting lid, reduce the heat to very low and cook for ten minutes. Lift the lid and check to see if the rice is cooked. Continue cooking, with the lid on, if required. When done, sprinkle with some hot sauce or red pepper flakes to give it a kick and fluff with a fork. Would be great with some steamed broccoli on top!