Coconut rice is one of those meals that I looked forward to with bated breath as a child growing up in Africa. Making this meal was a long and tedious process, but a rather enjoyable one. It usually started with de-husking the coconuts. You see, I grew up in a time and place where most respectable families owned a coconut tree or two in the back garden, which met the bulk of your coconut needs.
The knock-on impact of this was that you rarely had the pleasure of buying de-husked coconuts. You had to do it yourself! And of course, there were no fancy machines for this task. All you needed was a good old machete and a steady head and pair of hands, or for the less adventurous amongst us, we just relied on a stationary flat pointed pole which you stuck in the coconut with a bit of grunt and the work was done.
Next came the opening of the coconut, which my mum judiciously did using a chef’s knife (Le Hub chose to use a hammer for the task as you can see below..but hey ho – if it ain’t broke, why fix it?.), and then came the making of the coconut milk. This was usually the highlight of making this dish, and in fact, the entire raison d’etre of this dish is the coconut milk. The more authentic your coconut milk is, the better the flavour of the final dish. Here’s a link to a simple coconut milk recipe you can make in your kitchen in less than 5 minutes.
The inspiration for this dish came from my trip to Tanzania where I enjoyed several plates of Wali wa Nazi, which is the Swahili name for coconut rice. I found this dish to be delightfully fragrant from a rich combination of heady spices like cumin or coriander, and made a note to self to replicate the recipe in my kitchen. This dish is deliciously simple. Fry up your spices to release the flavours, slowly cook the rice in a flavoursome coconut milk sauce, and pretend to your family that you’ve got a degree or two in culinary arts!
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