29 Ideas for what to serve with coconut milk rice: side dishes made from ingredients that go well with the rich and aromatic coconut flavor, from a refreshing salad to a hearty curry.
What is Coconut Milk Rice?
There are many types of coconut milk rice, depending on the country you are from.
In Singapore and Malaysia, coconut rice is nasi lemak, or rice cooked with coconut milk, pandan, lemongrass and more spices. In the Caribbean, they add beans or pigeon peas. In Thailand, the rice used is obviously long-grain jasmine rice.
Whatever type of coconut rice you're making, the flavors of these easy side dishes complement it well!
Tip #1: you need to add water when cooking coconut rice. If not the dish would be much too sticky and heavy. (The ratio of milk: rice is super important for a light and fluffy rice!) If you want a very strong coconut flavor, use coconut water with the coconut milk (instead of regular water.)
Tip #2: allow the rice to rest before opening the rice cooker (or pot) and fluffing up the grains.
The sweet and bright flavors of this mango salsa dish help to lift up the rice recipe, which can sometimes taste a bit too rich and creamy. Besides bell peppers, you can also add red onions, lime juice, cilantro and jalapeño peppers to this refreshing and colourful dish.
A coconut curry sauce goes really well with coconut rice, as the spices complement the coconut! Serve with some Asian cucumber pickles on the side to elevate the heavy flavors.
Pumpkin Chicken Curry
This dish is made with tender chicken and pumpkins simmered in a fragrant coconut milk sauce with a blend of spices. You can also add or substitute with potatoes and carrots, to cook up a rich and hearty curry which is the perfect accompaniment to the rice.
Note: to make a vegetarian version, use firm tofu and vegetables.
Tamarind Fish Curry
Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken
An aromatic and fragrant chicken recipe that is perfect with the rice!
Thai Pork Curry
Fried chicken, with some turmeric in the batter, is another match made in heaven with coconut rice.
This spicy beef stew is something that we often pair with coconut rice in Southeast Asia. In fact, it's 1 of my favourite dishes! Done right, the beef should be stewed till soft and tender and ever so aromatic with all the spices!
Grilled Chicken with Spicy Coconut
Ayam percik is another traditional South East Asian recipe!
A fried egg, sunny side up, is delicious with coconut pilaf! I particularly like the crispy Thai deep-fried omelette (Khai Jiao)!
Coconut rice is full of flavour, so a side of steamed veggies won't taste bland. Make sure they're steamed till tender and crisp, but not for so long that they go soggy.
Tip: Steaming is also a great way to preserve the nutrients of the vegetables!
Roasted veggies are a healthy, delicious and classic side dish that go well with just about everything! You can roast any combination of vegetables, but popular favourites are carrots and cauliflowers. This side dish adds a nice contrasting texture and flavor to that of the creamy rice.
Note: I'd focus ore on roasting carrots and the like, instead of potatoes, because the rice is already very carb heavy!
Thin sliced cucumbers are a great side dish for coconut milk rice, being juicy yet neutral in flavor.
This yoghurt, cucumber, mint and cilantro mixture is a cooling and refreshing side dish- especially good if 1 of your mains is a spicy curry!
Stir Fry Veg
Or go with a simple vegetable stir fried in light soy sauce!
Turmeric ginger tea
For extra lemongrass flavor, use lemongrass syrup to sweeten the ginger water instead of regular sugar.
In Southeast Asia, coconut and pandan are a marriage made in heaven.
Step over, boring cold brew lattes and try this coffee spiced with the Vanilla of the East instead!
If you can't take coffee, you can try this pandan au lait instead!
Green Tea Chai
If you don't have matcha on hand- it can be expensive- you can make green tea chai latte instead!
For something more indulgent, try Hot Chocolate and Chai!
Known as Kuih Tayap in Malaysia and Indonesia, this is a sweet treat that we would be very happy to eat with Nasi Lemak Coconut Rice!
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