Friday, October 19, 2007

Creamy Coconut-Tofu Rice

This recipe was born on a fridge-cleaning Friday night. We enjoyed it so much that I made it again a few times. One time, a friend joined us for dinner and asked for the recipe. I got the feeling that this dish had earned its place on the blog, so here it is. It just could not be simpler: vegetables and rice are cooked in a mixture of coconut milk and water. Cubes of soft tofu are added to the simmering rice. The resulting creamy rice, mildly spiced and dotted with melt-in-the-mouth tofu, is much more than the sum of its parts.

Coconut-Tofu Rice


1 C rice (I used sona masuri)
2 C chopped mixed vegetables (eg. spinach, beans, peas, carrots)
1 t oil
1 small onion, sliced
8-10 curry leaves
1 t cumin seeds
1/2 t turmeric
1/2 t red chilli powder (or to taste)
1 t sambar masala (or your favorite spice blend...I used a gava kadcha (rustic) masala gifted by an aunt)
Salt to taste
3/4 C thick coconut milk
2.5 C hot water
1 heaped cup soft tofu cubes (about 1/2 of a standard block)
Wedges of lemon
3-4 spring onion stalks (green parts, sliced) or cilantro, minced
1. Heat the oil, temper with curry leaves and cumin seeds, and saute the onion until the edges start browning.
2. Stir in the salt, turmeric, chilli powder, and your masala of choice, then saute the vegetables for a couple of minutes.
3. Stir in the rice, coconut milk and water, and bring to a boil.
4. Gently arrange the tofu cubes in the rice mixture, and then cover the pan and simmer until the rice is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed.
5. Serve hot, garnished with fresh herbs and lemon wedges. This dish tastes best when it is freshly made. The picture you see here is of the leftovers, taken the next day, and by this time, most of the creaminess has been absorbed into the rice. Still tasty, though!

This rice is delicious when paired with a crunchy kachumbar, a simple salad of any combination of tomato-onion-cucumber-carrot-cabbage-radish dressed with a little salt, pepper and lemon juice. I have also served it with a medley of roasted vegetables with tasty results.

An interesting variation would be to use Thai curry paste instead of the Indian spices, to make a Thai-inspired rice. Or use generous amounts of either ginger or garlic (in the saute step) to make rice with a more distinctive flavor.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!


  1. You never fail to amaze me Nupur!

  2. mmm...yummy! i bet it was deicious

  3. Yummy yummy! I have all the ingredients, and the picture is super appetizing, giving me serious hunger pangs, so have to make it tonight!!

  4. Nupur, this is truly lovely! I am sure it tastes wonderful!

  5. This really sounds like a lovely dish! I never think to make rice with coconut milk replacing part of the liquid. Lovely....

  6. this looks and sounds quite interesting...

  7. Oh yum! I found your blog yesterday and then spent a LOT of time going through it, figuring out which recipes I HAVE to try! I'm def. going to try this, as I need to clean out the fridge and have all the ingredients on hand, so....sound like a good lunch to me!

    I am newly vegetarian, and have been looking for sources for great recipes. Thanks for sharing yours!

  8. I'm still a little timid about tofu - I've had several dishes recently where I enjoyed it, but memories of some earlier bad experiences still haunt me. But I have to admit that even to me this sounds delicious. You will make a tofu-lover out of me yet, Nupur! :)

  9. Looks soooooooooooo good!!!
    gava kadhcha masalyachi recipe ahe ka? pleeeeeeeeeease share kar na!!!

    Happy Dussehra to U , V & Dale!!!

  10. Nupur, this is one yummy vegie dish, though I'm not a fan of toffu, maybe I can replace it with paneer.

  11. nupur, this sounds fantastic! i love the combination of flavours - curry leaves, tofu, lemon, coconut... yum!

  12. Yep, this was so wonderful and satisfying. My boys asked for seconds, and they rarely do when there is tofu involved. I'm going to experiment using coconut milk more often.

  13. Oh Nupur...I am so glad I stopped by! I have all the ingredients and this is going to be lunch :)

    The microwave sabudana khichadi deserves a place in the 'grad food hall of fame' ..I've made it so often this past month that I can actually do a post on the variations in the recipe (depth and material of the cooking container, type of peanut, type of potato, soaking time v/s relative humidity etc etc :) )

    Thanks for another simple yet exciting recipe! Love to you and yours

  14. Suganya, oh, stop teasing me :)

    Rajitha, it was!

    Musical, the picture is not a very representative one...all the veggies and tofu was gone ;)

    Anh, it tastes delicious for something so simple :)

    Lydia, this is very cook rice in coconut milk. Like cooking it in broth, it really does transform the taste of the rice.

    Priya, glad you think so :)

    Sasha, you will find lots of easy hearty vegetarian dishes here. Do e-mail me if you have any questions...always happy to help someone who is a new vegetarian.

    Cathy, it may be specific brands that you either like or don't. The tofu here tastes really creamy and lovely, but is optional, really. You could jusy add some more veggies or stir in some hard-boiled eggs at the end of cooking.

    Manasi, no, I'm afraid I don't have a recipe for the gava kadcha aunt (mami) has relatives in a tiny village in Konkan, and she goes there once every year or so...this precious masala is from the families there. Precious stuff! Happy Dussra to you and your too! Thank you for the wishes :)

    Rina, yes, I am pretty sure paneer would work here. In fact, in this particular dish, tofu has a very paneer-ish taste, so you might in fact like tofu this way :)

    Maninas, exactly: you can't go wrong with these wonderful flavors, right?

    Anon, you made it already?? I am especially glad your boys enjoyed this dish! Thank you for the feedback.

    AA, hope you enjoy it...I was skeptical about posting such a simple recipe but sometimes that is what I crave. About the microwave khichdi, please please do write that "standardization" post; it will be most useful :)
    How are you doing? Nice to see you here, and hope all is well with you! How is school? Love to you too, my dear :)

  15. Nupur, I love, love LOVE coconut milk with rice....this sounds soooo good that I'm salivating at just the thought of it....the recipe is going in my to-make list. Thanks!

  16. I make a similar coconut milk rice, andd add some grated lime rind to the rice while its simmering (actually you could add some finely chopped keffir leaves too)..It tastes and smells divine.

  17. Very innocent looking. Gotta taste divine!

  18. Nabeela, it is true: the coconut milk makes the rice irresistible!

    Prita, the addition of lime rind does sound *divine*, I will definitely do that next time. I've never cooked with keffir lime leaves, but will look for them now! Thanks for your suggestions.

    Zlamushka, it does :)

  19. A must try dish for me... love the combination of coconut & tofu. Nupur, can u also post the recipe for ur Aunt's Gava kadcha masala powder? I love that authentic falvor n touch it has when some one elderly does it.

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  21. hello Nupur,
    Your blog never disappoints me. This week has been very hard; my friend's mom passed away and she needed help with food to cater to herself and her family who flew from India. Since I hadn't planned and being a week day, I just looked through rice recipes from your blog and made this rice; it was tasty and served the purpose. It means a lot to me to be able to help in the need of the hour...

    Thanks for this simple recipe :-)

    1. Meena- you're so nice to bring food to your grieving friend. And glad the recipe came in handy.

  22. Hello Nupur I'm very much a silent reader but I wanted to say thank you for this recipe. Just made it for dinner in Singapore. I chucked in some cauliflower and the whole box of tofu, and it was really good. Just went for a second helping! Thanks again!

    1. Taj- this is such an old recipe that I had almost forgotten about! Thanks for trying it and I am glad it worked for you :)


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