Saffron and Chilli Rice Cooked in Coconut Milk

Rice cooked in this way has such a lovely discreet exotic flavour that I like serving it with grilled chicken or fish instead of a dish with a lot of sauce, so that the rice can be tasted separately.


  • 8–10 strands saffron
  • 1 rounded teaspoon salt
  • 300 ml (½ pint) boiling water
  • 40 g ( oz) creamed coconut
  • 250 g (8 oz) basmati rice, rinsed and soaked in salted water for at least 1 hour
  • 40 g ( oz) butter
  • 1–2 fresh red chillies, stemmed, deseeded and chopped finely


Put the saffron and the salt in a jug with the boiling water and stir. Crumble in the creamed coconut and stir until dissolved. Cover and set aside for 10 minutes or so to infuse.

Drain the soaked rice. Melt the butter in a large, heavy-based saucepan over a low heat, add the rice and finely chopped chillies and stir. Then pour in the saffron-coconut milk, including every strand of saffron. Bring to the boil, cover the saucepan tightly and reduce the heat to as low as possible for 10–14 minutes until the rice is tender but still has a slight bite to it when tested. Remove the saucepan from the heat.

If you aren’t ready to eat immediately, put a cloth between the rice and the lid and leave on top of the stove, with the heat turned off, for up to 20 minutes. To serve fork out the rice on to a warmed serving dish.