Gourmet Coconut Rice

Food & Drink

15 March 2024

The history of coconut rice in Costa Rica, particularly in the Caribbean region, reflects a rich tapestry of cultural and culinary influences. The Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, often described as "the other Costa Rica," has a distinct identity from the rest of the country, marked by its unique history, culture, landscape, architecture, music, and cuisine. This uniqueness is deeply influenced by the Afro-Caribbean heritage, particularly from Jamaica.

The traditional Caribbean cuisine of Costa Rica is known for its vibrant and powerful flavors, with coconut being the most prominent. Dishes like Rondón, a traditional stew made with coconut milk, and Caribbean rice and beans highlight the significance of coconut in their culinary culture. The Caribbean rice and beans, in particular, is a unique variation compared to other parts of Costa Rica. It is typically made with red kidney beans and cooked in coconut milk, incorporating spices like curry powder, thyme, and Panamanian peppers.

This culinary tradition has its roots in the history of the province of Limón, where the Caribbean influence is most pronounced. The late 19th century saw a significant number of Jamaicans, almost 20,000, moving to Limón, primarily working for the banana company and the railroad. This influx of Jamaican immigrants brought with them their rich culinary traditions, which included the use of coconut milk in various dishes.

The unique flavor of coconut rice and beans is a product of this cultural blend, symbolizing the fusion of different cultures and tastes that have shaped Limón's history. Today, these dishes not only represent the culinary heritage of the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica but also contribute to its tourism and cultural identity.

For a detailed recipe of Caribbean Rice and Beans, you can explore traditional preparations that include a blend of spices, coconut milk, and specific cooking techniques to bring out the rich flavors characteristic of this dish​

Creating a gourmet level of Coconut Rice recipe involves focusing on high-quality ingredients, precision in cooking, and a touch of culinary creativity. Here's a recipe that elevates the simple concept of coconut rice into a gourmet dish:

Gourmet Coconut Rice


  • 2 cups of jasmine rice or basmati rice
  • 1 can (14 oz) of full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 1/4 cups of water
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass, tender part only, finely minced
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • Zest of one lime
  • 1/4 cup of fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup of toasted coconut flakes
  • 1/4 cup of toasted cashews or almonds, chopped
  • Edible flowers for garnish (optional)


  • Rinse the Rice:
    • Rinse the rice in cold water until the water runs clear. This step removes excess starch and helps the rice to have a fluffier texture.
  • Infuse the Coconut Milk:
    • In a medium saucepan, combine coconut milk, water, sea salt, coconut oil, lemongrass, and ginger.
    • Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally.
    • Once simmering, remove from heat and let it sit for 10 minutes to infuse the flavors.
  • Cook the Rice:
    • Strain the infused coconut milk to remove the lemongrass and ginger. Return the liquid to the saucepan.
    • Add the rinsed rice to the saucepan.
    • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 18-20 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender.
  • Rest and Fluff:
    • Remove the rice from heat and let it sit, covered, for 10 minutes.
    • Fluff the rice with a fork, gently incorporating the lime zest and half of the chopped cilantro.
  • Garnish and Serve:
    • Transfer the rice to a serving dish.
    • Garnish with toasted coconut flakes, the remaining cilantro, toasted nuts, and edible flowers if using.
  • Presentation:
    • Serve the coconut rice in a visually appealing manner, perhaps in a sculpted mound or using a ring mold to shape it on individual plates.

This coconut rice recipe, with its infusion of lemongrass, ginger, and lime zest, offers a fragrant and flavorful twist on the traditional dish. The addition of toasted nuts and coconut flakes adds texture and depth, while the edible flowers can provide a visually stunning presentation, elevating the dish to a 5-star Michelin level. It's perfect as an elegant side dish for upscale tropical or Asian-inspired menus.


Mama Gringo 🩵