Arroz de Coco Recipe - Vegetarian Dish from Mozambique, South Africa

Arroz de Coco

Arroz de Coco Recipe - Vegetarian Dish from Mozambique, South Africa
Region / culture: Mozambique, South Africa | Preparation time: 10 minutes | Cooking time: 30 minutes | Servings: 4 | Vegetarian diet


Arroz de Coco
Arroz de Coco

Arroz de Coco, or Coconut Rice, is a delightful dish that brings a tropical twist to the traditional rice recipe. This dish combines the creamy richness of coconut milk with the subtle flavors of onions, green peppers, and chilies, creating a perfect balance of sweetness and spice. It's a versatile side dish that complements a wide range of cuisines, making it a favorite in many households around the globe.


The origins of Arroz de Coco can be traced back to the coastal regions of Latin America and the Caribbean, where coconuts are abundant. Over the years, it has spread across various cultures, each adding its unique touch to the recipe. This dish reflects a blend of indigenous, African, and European culinary traditions, showcasing the rich cultural heritage of the regions where it is popular.


How to prepare

  1. In a large skillet, heat the oil.
  2. Saute the onions and green pepper for 5 minutes over moderate heat.
  3. Add the rice and cook for 3 minutes.
  4. Stir in the coconut milk mixture, tomatoes, and salt.
  5. Cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.
  6. When all the liquid is absorbed, remove the pan from heat and stir in the chillies.
  7. Cover and let it set at room temperature for 10 minutes.
  8. Serve warm.


  • There are many variations of Arroz de Coco, including adding beans for extra protein, using brown rice for a whole grain option, or incorporating pineapple for a sweet twist.

Cooking Tips & Tricks

To achieve the perfect Arroz de Coco, consider the following tips:

- Use long-grain rice for the best texture.

- Rinse the rice thoroughly before cooking to remove excess starch.

- Sautéing the onions and peppers before adding the rice enhances the flavors.

- Be careful not to over-stir the rice as it cooks to prevent it from becoming mushy.

- Letting the rice sit covered after cooking allows it to steam, resulting in fluffier rice.

Serving Suggestions

Arroz de Coco can be served as a side dish with grilled chicken, fish, or vegetables. It also pairs well with spicy dishes, as the creaminess of the coconut milk can help balance the heat.

Cooking Techniques

The key cooking technique for Arroz de Coco is simmering. This slow cooking method allows the flavors to meld together and the rice to absorb the coconut milk, resulting in a creamy and flavorful dish.

Ingredient Substitutions

If you're unable to find coconut milk, you can substitute it with almond milk or cow's milk and a teaspoon of coconut extract for a similar flavor profile.

Make Ahead Tips

Arroz de Coco can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to three days. Reheat gently on the stove or in the microwave, adding a little water or coconut milk to prevent the rice from drying out.

Presentation Ideas

Serve Arroz de Coco in a large bowl garnished with fresh cilantro or sliced green onions for a pop of color and flavor. A lime wedge on the side adds a refreshing touch.

Pairing Recommendations

Arroz de Coco pairs beautifully with tropical drinks such as mojitos or piña coladas. For a non-alcoholic option, try a sparkling coconut water with lime.

Storage and Reheating Instructions

Store leftover Arroz de Coco in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. To reheat, add a splash of water or coconut milk and warm it on the stove over low heat or in the microwave.

Nutrition Information

Calories per serving

A serving of Arroz de Coco contains approximately 300 calories. The majority of these calories come from carbohydrates and fats.


A serving of Arroz de Coco primarily provides carbohydrates, with approximately 45 grams per serving. The rice in the dish is a good source of energy, making it an excellent choice for fueling your body throughout the day.


The coconut milk in Arroz de Coco contributes to the fat content of the dish, with about 14 grams of fat per serving. Most of these fats are saturated, coming from the coconut milk. However, coconut milk also contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are metabolized differently than other fats and can have health benefits.


Arroz de Coco is not a high-protein dish, providing about 5 grams of protein per serving. To increase the protein content, consider adding beans, chicken, or shrimp to the recipe.

Vitamins and minerals

This dish is a good source of several vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C from the tomatoes and green peppers, and a range of B vitamins from the rice. It also provides minerals such as magnesium, potassium, and iron.


The primary allergen in Arroz de Coco is coconut, which is a tree nut. Individuals with tree nut allergies should avoid this dish or seek a suitable substitution for coconut milk.


Arroz de Coco is a balanced dish that provides carbohydrates, fats, and a modest amount of protein. It is rich in certain vitamins and minerals, making it a nutritious addition to any meal. However, it is relatively high in saturated fats and calories, so it should be consumed in moderation.


Arroz de Coco is a flavorful and versatile dish that brings a taste of the tropics to your table. With its rich history and nutritional benefits, it's a wonderful addition to any meal. Whether you stick to the traditional recipe or experiment with variations, Arroz de Coco is sure to delight your taste buds.

How did I get this recipe?

I remember the sense of wonder I felt when I first saw this recipe for Arroz de Coco. It was many years ago, when I was just a young girl living in a small village in the Philippines. My grandmother, who was known for her amazing cooking skills, had invited me into the kitchen to help her prepare a special meal for a family gathering.

As I watched her move gracefully around the kitchen, adding a pinch of this and a dash of that, I couldn't help but be mesmerized by her talent. She had a way of turning simple ingredients into mouth-watering dishes that left everyone begging for more. And on that particular day, she was making Arroz de Coco - a traditional Filipino dessert made with rice, coconut milk, and sugar.

I watched in awe as she sifted the rice and washed it carefully, removing any impurities. She then soaked the rice in water for a few hours, allowing it to soften before draining it and placing it in a pot with coconut milk. The rich, creamy liquid filled the air with a sweet, tropical fragrance that made my mouth water.

As the rice cooked, my grandmother added sugar and a pinch of salt, stirring the mixture gently until it thickened to a creamy consistency. She then poured the Arroz de Coco into a serving dish and sprinkled it with toasted coconut flakes for an extra touch of flavor and texture.

I couldn't wait to taste the finished dessert, and when my grandmother finally handed me a bowl, I was not disappointed. The Arroz de Coco was sweet and creamy, with just the right amount of coconut flavor to transport me to a tropical paradise. It was unlike anything I had ever tasted before, and I knew then that I had to learn how to make it myself.

Over the years, I watched my grandmother make Arroz de Coco countless times, asking her questions and taking mental notes of her techniques. She was always patient with me, guiding me through each step and teaching me the importance of patience and attention to detail when it came to cooking.

Eventually, I began to make Arroz de Coco on my own, experimenting with different ratios of rice to coconut milk and adjusting the sweetness to suit my own taste. I would often bring the dessert to family gatherings and potluck dinners, where it quickly became a favorite among friends and relatives.

As I grew older and started a family of my own, I continued to make Arroz de Coco for special occasions and holidays. It became a tradition in our household, with my children eagerly helping me in the kitchen as I had once helped my grandmother.

I shared the recipe with friends and neighbors, passing down the knowledge that had been handed down to me through generations. And each time I made Arroz de Coco, I felt a sense of pride and connection to my heritage, knowing that I was carrying on a culinary tradition that had been passed down through the ages.

Now, as I look back on those early days in my grandmother's kitchen, I am grateful for the lessons she taught me and the memories we shared. The recipe for Arroz de Coco will always hold a special place in my heart, reminding me of the love and care that went into each delicious bite. And I hope that one day, my own grandchildren will feel the same sense of wonder and joy as they watch me make this traditional Filipino dessert, carrying on the legacy of our family's culinary heritage.


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