Coconut Saffron Rice

It's been a week and although we've had some really good dinners the past couple of nights, my husband is longing for Asian cuisine. Actually, he's just in need of rice with his meal! But of course, I would prefer to serve something other than regular, plain rice for dinner.

I came across this recipe online and decided to give it a try since I had a majority of the ingredients on hand. I did omit one ingredient from the original recipe, that being the dried, crushed chili. After making this dish, it didn't need any additional heat the chili would have offered.

The color of this rice is a striking yellow, brought on by the combination of the tumeric and saffron. It has a creamy texture, thanks to the rich coconut milk and it's extremely flavorful due to the cumin, fish sauce and garlic. Overall, it was the perfect accompaniment to the Issan Thai garlic sausage* my friend Kelly gave me to try.

* Issan Thai garlic sausage is the local sausage of the Northeastern region of Thailand, also known as Issan. The sausage is made with sticky rice, pork, garlic, ginger, cilantro, lemongrass and a few other seasonings.

Coconut Saffron Rice
recipe adapted from

2 cups white Thai jasmine rice
2 cups good-quality coconut milk
1 3/4 cups good-tasting chicken or vegetable stock
2 1/2 Tbsp. dry shredded coconut, unsweetened
1 tsp. turmeric
1/4 tsp. saffron threads
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. fish sauce or soy sauce
1 tsp. ground cumin
1-2 tablespoons, finely minced fresh cilantro
2 green onions, sliced (for garnish)

Place stock in a pot and set over high heat. Add the turmeric, saffron threads (if using), garlic, lemon juice, and cumin. Stir well and bring to a boil.

Add the rice, shredded coconut, plus coconut milk. Stir continuously (to keep rice from sticking to the bottom) while you bring liquid back to a gentle boil.

When liquid is gently bubbling, reduce heat to low (just above minimum) and stop stirring. Cover pot tightly with a lid and cook about 15 minutes, or until liquid has been absorbed (use a fork to pull rice back so you can see to the bottom of the pot).

Turn off heat, but leave the pot on the burner (covered) to steam for another 5-10 minutes, or until you're ready to eat.

Before serving, fluff rice with a fork and taste-test for salt. If not salty enough (this will depend on the saltiness of your stock), add a little more fish sauce OR a sprinkling of salt if vegetarian. If too salty, add another squeeze of lemon juice. Add the minced cilantro and fold in to combine.

Garnish with the green onion and serve hot.


  1. hi joelen
    what a great recipe - i plan to make it this weekend!

    thai issan sausage is hard to find here. only one restaurant in san diego serves it, sab e lee (both locations actually) because the owner and cook are from the northern region of thailand. everytime i go to sab e lee, i order their issan sausage...

    hope all is well with you and your preganancy!

  2. Congrats on your pregnancy.
    This dish looks awesome. I love saffron and coconut.

  3. my mum used to cook rice using saffron we all love it