Sweet coconut curry rice with currants and almonds

Coconut curry rice

Someone I had just met once told me that they could tell there was more to me than meets the eye. That I wasn’t as simple as I seem. That there were storms raging behind my eyes, offering a window into something altogether deeper and more complex.

Of course, I took this person’s unsolicited option as an insult. Sure, I think I’m nice and easy to be around, for the most part. But you assume people see me as simple? I don’t want to be simple. Does anyone just want to be simple? Perhaps. But simple seems so...boring.

This stranger’s words came to mind recently after I got in a fight with someone close to me. They said there was an air of negativity around me. That I seem unsatisfied by everything — even unhappy. But...shouldn't I be able to feel that way sometimes?

I am positive the majority of the time. I am cheery. I do see the bright side of things and the good side of people. I guess the problem in having this kind of attitude towards life, is that when I have all the other regular human emotions, like anxiety, sadness, despair — pick a feeling — it’s unexpected. It’s not what I’m good for. I’m good for keeping the vibes positive.

But let me tell you, that’s hard right now, for various reason related to being an adult. I’m also in San Francisco in the summer. Which, if you don’t know, is the dreariest time of year here. While the rest of the country is starting to celebrate sun and sand and BBQ's outside, this city is gray, windy and freezing. Every single day, the fog rolls in and covers the entire city like a big wet blanket. Some people find it cozy. And on good days, I do too. But when it’s constant for three months, you start to lose it. And while it has only been a couple of weeks of this, I know what I’m in for. Seattle, I really don’t know how you people do it.

Anyway, all that is to say I think I’m seeking some comfort food right now. And comfort food in the way of sweet, nutty rice is one of the first places my mind went when thinking of recipes to cook and share this week.

I made this rice last night after finding a version of the original recipe in my old recipes binder from culinary school, which I attended in the summer. I can recall eating it on a cold, dreary day just like this one, and the flavors and smells transported me to someplace warm and tropical with lots of color and life — unlike the streets of San Francisco right now.

I served it for dinner alongside a simple poached cod with lemon juice and fresh coriander. I then ate the leftovers for breakfast today with a poached egg on top. It’s a delicious, satisfying side dish any time of year, really. It’s also easy to make, with ingredients you should have in your pantry by now if you’ve been making any of my recipes at all!

 Spring naan flatbread
 Spring naan flatbread
Coconut curry rice

Sweet and nutty with just a hint of spice, this coconut rice with sliced almonds and currants is a perfect side dish for so many things, including spicy curries, a simple chicken or poached fish with fresh herbs. It’s also fully satisfying all on its own — or maybe even with a runny egg on top for breakfast. It’s also good for you, as it’s made with brown basmati rice.

COOKING NOTES

To make this entirely vegan, simply substitute vegetable stock or water for the chicken stock. As with any rice, the time it takes to cook stovetop depends on your heat and your pots. It might take a little longer than noted or less time. Also, be sure to carefully watch your almonds and coconut flakes as their toasting. (I’ve burnt these more times than I’d like to admit.)

INGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
Kosher salt
1 ½ cups brown basmati rice
¼ cup currants
1 teaspoon Madras curry powder
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 bay leaves
1 13-ounce can coconut milk
1 ½ cups chicken stock
¼ cup sliced almonds
¼ shredded coconut
2 sprigs mint

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a large sauce pot over medium heat, warm 1 tablespoon of the coconut oil until melted. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook until the onion is soft and translucent, 6 to 8 minutes.
  2. Stir in the rice, currants, curry powder, cayenne and bay leaves. Cook, stirring, until fragrant and the rice is lightly toasted, 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Add the coconut milk and chicken stock, stir and bring to a boil. Add salt, to taste. Cover, lower the heat to a simmer and cook until the rice is tender and all the liquid has been absorbed, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  4. Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan over low heat, warm the remaining coconut oil. Add the almonds and coconut and saute, stirring, until toasted and golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Immediately remove from the heat. (These can go from toasted to burnt and bitter very quickly.) Thinly slice the mint.
  5. When the rice is done, remove from the heat and fold in the almonds, coconut flakes and mint. Taste for salt and adjust, if needed.