16 February, 2016

Mint and Coconut Rice Recipe | Simple and Quick Mint Rice Recipes

Learn how to make Mint and Coconut Rice ~ South Indian rice recipe of fresh coconut, mint and lime juice flavoured with generous tempering of crunchy cashew nuts, juicy raisins and aromatic spices

I am not the only one for whom many of life's most intimate details come flooding back at the sight, smell and taste of particular foods. It is not really a big surprise that, while I struggle to remember my mobile phone number or sometimes, rake my brain helplessly to recall my best friends' names, the merest sniff of certain food can bring back memories from the days of my early childhood with frightening clarity and make me walk down the memory lanes with rose-tinted nostalgia. One such dish that is stored safely in my food memory treasure chest is the simple and unassuming Mint and Coconut Rice from my school days drenched in monsoon rains and Amma’s love.

It was the first Monday of June, probably the most dreaded day for any kids in India. It was the day when schools would reopen after two months of fun filled adventurous summer holidays. Dressed in new uniform with shiny new black shoes and socks and cart load of new text books and notes on our bags, we kids would drag ourselves to school half-heartedly wishing it was just a bad dream and anytime the bubble would go pop as soon as we opened our eyes. Unfortunately, it was not the case! The thought of no more sleeping late at night and getting late in the morning, no more picnic lunches in the mango orchards and climbing the mango trees, no more sling shots and biting into raw or juicy stolen mangoes was enough to dampen our spirits. To top it all, on every first day to school it would rain like it never rained before, dampening our uniforms and spirits.

The only consolation was meeting friends after months and sharing food from our multi-tiered steel tiffin boxes in the afternoons as we talked non-stop about our holidays. In India, the school lunches are usually provided by loving mothers, not school cafeterias. The lunch boxes in my school days were nothing like the lunch boxes of today. I am not talking about the Tupperware plastic boxes or Pyrex glass containers. Our lunch boxes in the late 80’s and early 90’s were made of eco-friendly multi-tiered stainless steel tiffin dabba, consisting of number of containers stacked one above another and held together by a steel frame which also serves as a handle to carry them. Some kids brought tiffin boxes which were 2 tiered, some 3 tiered and few even had 4 tiered tiffin boxes and they were, undoubtedly, the most popular kids during lunch break. :)

The contents in these stackable tiffin boxes varied from region to region, and even from one home to another as India is a country with tremendous diversity in food. Most commonly, though, you will find unleavened whole wheat flat breads, accompanied by some lentil soup called dal, and one or two vegetable and/or meat curries. Most of the days, my tiffin box used to contain rice in various avatars accompanied with a container of sweet, salted or plain yogurt. Every single item in the lunch box was made fresh every single morning, from scratch. Well, my mother was pretty serious about home cooking and making sure that her kids were well fed with nourishing and nutritious food.

Most days my mother prepared rice dishes; some days it would be plain rice with rasam, sambar or dal and a vegetable stir fries called palya and other days flavoured rice dishes like lemon rice, coconut rice, veg pulao, mango rice and many other based on the fresh seasonal produces and served with yogurt or raita. Apart from these, there would be the occasional times when Amma would cook a ‘special’ dish on our request. Foods like puffed poori with veg saagu or bhaji, Maggi Nooldes, chapatti and potato curry, pav bhaji and parathas that would please me to no end! Those days I would wait excitedly for the lunch break and would sit in a corner, away from prying eyes, and eat my lunch quietly as a mouse until the day I became friends with a quiet and shy girl who would become my best friend for life.

It became easier to share my lunch box with her, even on the days when my mom had cooked my favourite food. As soon as the school bell rang, we both would run out of the class room with our lunch boxes to our favourite spot which happened to be a high raised platform under the church bell tower in the school campus. Then we would spread the kitchen towel before opening our lunch boxes and arranging the containers. I would greedily look into her lunch as she would gaze at mine with anticipation. For some strange reason, I found the same food cooked by her mother tasted well as she found my mother’s cooking better!

One of her most favourite food cooked by my mother was Mint and Coconut Rice which I wasn’t a great fan of as I was not very fond of toothpaste-y taste of the mint. She would beg me to swap our lunch boxes on those days and I was always too happy to oblige. I failed to understand her love for this minty rice dish and found it funny to hear her oh’s and ah’s with every mouthful. It took me over a decade to fall in love with this simple and unassuming Mint and Coconut Rice when I was away from home and lived in a hostel where the ‘infamous’ hostel food made me not only appreciate Amma’s home cooking but also cherish them for their simplicity and flaovour.

Today’s recipe of Mint and Coconut Rice is all about a food from the past. A most cherished recipe which I kept hidden in my recipe repertoire, result of my possessive streak. I have finally decided to share some of my priced recipes on the blog as it is not only my journal for day to day cooking and food stories, but also it will be my humble legacy, my gift to LD and to everyone who loves cooking. I hope you will find these unassuming recipes useful and appreciate their simplicity. It is my humble attempt to share some of the most unpretentious recipes that are slowly losing their lustre in front of a complex and rich Indian dishes. Let me shine the spotlight back on the recipes which are not only quick and easy to cook, but also incorporates the simple principle of Ayurveda in cooking.

The fresh flavour of mint with sweet coconut, a hint of spice from the green chilli and crunchy roasted cashews and generous tempering of mustard seeds and lentils makes this Mint and Coconut Rice a flavourful affair to last a lifetime! The different flavours and textures is what it makes one of my most favourite rice dishes to cook and serve. Be generous with the ingredients used in tadka as they add a whole new dimension to flavour and taste.

I believe that good food has the power to inspire, bring back cherished memories, and create new memories to last lifetime. Everyone I speak to seems to have a favourite or, in some cases, a most hated dish with which they can recall particular moments of their lives. One of the most hated foods of my childhood is now one of my most favourite one as it reminds of the happy school days spent with my best friend. Not only has food made memories for me to cherish, but it has also changed the way I view comfort foods. For me, these simple and homely recipes are the ones which are embedded in my taste memory than the recipes and dishes of great restaurants! Each time I put a morsel of this Mint and Coconut Rice in my mouth, I find a part of myself at home.

Mint and Coconut Rice (South Indian rice recipe of fresh coconut, mint and lime juice flavoured with generous tempering of crunchy cashew nuts, juicy raisins and aromatic spices)
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 10 – 30 mins (Read notes)
Recipe Level: Easy/Beginner
Spice Level: Low to Medium
Serves: 3-4 People
Shelf Life: Best served fresh but can be refrigerated for 2-3 days
Serving Suggestion: With yogurt or with any raita and pickle

5-7 cups Cooked Rice (I have used Sona Masuri rice at room temperature)
1 medium Onion, finely chopped
2 tsp Sugar (Optional)
Juice from ½ Lime or Lemon, freshly squeezed (Adjust as per taste)
Salt to taste

For Coconut-Mint Paste:
1 cup Coconut, slices or grated
½ cup Mint Leaves
2-4 Green Chillies (Adjust as per taste)

For Tadka/Tempering:
1½ tsp Mustard Seeds
2 tbsp Urad Dal/Split Black Lentils
2 tbsp Chana Dal/Split Chickpeas
3-4 Dry Red Chillies, halved
A spring or two of Curry Leaves
¼ tsp Hing/Asafoetida
2 tbsp Oil (I have used Coconut Oil)

For Garnishing:
15-20 Cashew Nuts
3 tbsp Raisins
1½ tbsp. Ghee or Oil (I prefer using Coconut Oil)

  1. If preparing the fresh rice instead of using the leftovers, wash about 1½ cups of rice 4-5 times until he water runs clear. Drain all the water. Add about 3 cups of water to the washed rice and pressure cook for 2 whistles on the medium flame. Open the pressure cooker once the pressure is completely released and separate the grains with a help of a fork. Let it cool down to room temperature.
  2. Grind the coconut, mint leaves and green chillies to rough paste without adding any water. Keep it aside until needed.
Proceed to make Coconut-Mint Rice:
  1. Heat 1½ tbsp. ghee or oil in a large kadai/wok and add cashew nuts. Fry the cashews until they turn light golden. Mix in raisins and fry until they plump up, just a couple of seconds. Remove the fried cashews and raisins and transfer them to a clean and dry plate or a bowl.
  2. In a same pan, heat 2 tbsp oil on a medium flame and add mustard seeds, chana dal, urad dal and dry red chillies. Fry them until the lentils turn golde brown and the mustard seeds start to pop and splutter. Mix in curry leaves and the hing and stir them for couple of seconds.
  3. Mix in finely chopped onion and cook until the onions turns translucent, about 2 minutes, on a medium flame.
  4. Next add the ground coconut-mint paste and salt to taste stir them for a minute or two before adding the cooked rice. Mix them all well so that every grain of rice is coated well with the spices and is heated through, about 3-4 minutes.
  5. Finally mix in freshly squeezed lime/lemon juice and fried cashews and raisins just before switching off the flame and mix them all well.
  6. Serve this delicious Mint and Coconut Rice on its own or with chilled yogurt or raita and enjoy!

Sia’s Notes:
  • Increase the number of green chillies if you like it spicy. If cooking for kids, reduce the amount of green chillies or you can simply skip them.
  • Be generous with the ingredients used in tadka as they add a whole new dimension to flavour and taste.
  • The addition of fresh lime juice not only improves the taste of this Mint and Coconut Rice, but also helps in locking in the vibrant colour and the nutrients of mint leaves.
  • Replace ghee with oil (I prefer coconut oil) to make it suit the vegan diet.


  1. Such a fragrant and heavenly rice dish! I could eat that kind of food every day.




    1. Thank you, Rosa! A must try recipe if you like mint and coconut :)

  2. That's a lovely story sia. AS you say now a days there is pronounced use of tupperware and other kind of tiffin box but nothing can beat those tiffin boxes.Very colorful story and colorful lunch.

    1. Thank you, Sathya! My love for these dabbas is for a life time :) Glad to know that you enjoyed the story.

  3. I have never tried coconut rice, but this looks and sounds fantastic.

    1. Thank you, Susan! I highly recommend you give this rice dish a try if you like mint and coconut :)

  4. I loved your Narration more than the recipe..and the dabbas bring back so many memories. .
    Recipe is good too ..but I don't add lime will have to try

    1. Thanks a lot! Your comment made me smile :) I am happy to know that there are few who read the blog post for the stories and my rants. Some recipe have so many fond memories attached to them and they are quite difficult to write them without the story associated with them. This is one of those recipes that open the gate to flood of memories gushing through. Glad you enjoyed the narration.
      And oh, you must try adding lime juice. I personally feel that it just elevates the taste of the dish.

  5. Hi Sia, such a feast to eyes and spirit. I thoroughly enjoyed your illustration of events and recipe presentation. Also the Raitha in your pictures is colorful and mouth watering as is the main dish. Can you please share its recipe as well. Thanks.

    1. Thank you, Som! Appreciate your kind words.
      The raita is the usual onion, tomato and cucumber raita with tadka of mustard seeds, urad dal (for crunch), dry red chilli and a pinch of hing. I usually add tadka to the raita when I am pairing them with South Indian rice dishes.

  6. Thank you for the response. Cant wait to try the recipe and share with my family

  7. Awesome photos...I love those candies .....;-)

  8. Wow it looks mouth watering and i can't wait to try this. Can you please share simple recipes like this.

    1. Thank you, Aegis! Glad you like it. I have already blogged many recipes which can be cooked under 30 mins. You can find them in the recipe index.

  9. Dear Sia,
    Phewww You’re on Sulekha US!!!
    Thanks for #Mango-Coconut Chitranna!


    Bravo! Wish that #Cream of Corn Soup would turn real, every time we think about it 

    This is an exclusive space for your penmanship, where you can publish your unique culinary outputs in the form of brief food blogs.

    That too you’re the one, who’s going to own this space! We would like to pass it on to others by featuring it on our global platform!

    Sulekha.US would be glad to present your food blog to the Indian communities living abroad. We would love to connect them through one of the most vital channels i.e. food.

    It’s all yours and you’re going to own an exclusive food blog with Sulekha to share your recipes along with their back links.

    We would promote it across our wall and social media.

    Featuring your recipes on our home page would be a perk for our eager Indians, who are waiting for Asian recipes and baked goodies ranging from ‘grand’ to ‘on the go’.

    Sharing your passion for cooking might rejuvenate the taste buds and senses of millions of Indians living abroad. We’re awaiting your valuable reply.

    Bon Appetite!

    Cheers 

    Thanks & regards,
    Hamida, Content Manager, Sulekha US

    1. Thanks a lot Hamida for the mention and trying out the recipe. I am happy to see that my humble attempt to share some of the most unpretentious recipes that are slowly losing their luster in front of a complex and rich Indian dishes are appreciated by many. For me, these simple and homely recipes are the ones which are embedded in my taste memory than the recipes and dishes of great restaurants! Each time I put a morsel of this delicious rice in my mouth, I find a part of myself at home. :)

  10. Have to try this recipe it looks so yummy. Simple food is so satisfying, looking forward for more such recipes Sia.

    1. Thanks, Shilpa! I do have many such recipes in blog archive. Do go through the recipe index when time permits. I will also be adding more simple and easy recipes to the collection in future :)

  11. Loved the recipe, so aromatic and divine. Photos were beautiful and serving it was a real delight to the senses, all of them. Love your photos. We are in Mexico and believe it or not there are a few mexican restaurants here, but cooking Indian food at home for my mexican husband adds a new dimension for him, he loves it. I have always loved indian food, vegetarian, and love cooking with all the spices and smelling up the neighborhood. Unfortunately I havent found Curry leaves here and we cant bring them into Mexico, but when I do visit the states I cook indian for my family. Felix and Diane

    1. Thanks a lot for taking time to leave such a positive feedback, Felix and Diane! I am always happy to hear from my blog readers whenever they try the recipe and love it. Glad to hear about your love for Indian food, especially simple vegetarian recipes :)

  12. Congratulations! Your blog post was featured in our Collective - Creative Mint Recipes To Stay Cool: Summer Special on March 31, 2016 at Blogadda.

    Please find it here:

  13. Congratulations! Your blog post was featured in our Collective - Creative Mint Recipes To Stay Cool: Summer Special on March 31, 2016 at Blogadda.

    Please find it here:


Namaste! I am Sia and welcome to Monsoon Spice, my virtual home. Thank you for all your comments, inputs and feedback. I really appreciate the valuable time you spent browsing through my recipe repertoire.

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