Quick and Easy Weeknight Dinner: Coconut Chicken and Rice

By grace.g.yang ยท December 2, 2009
Under: Cheap Eats,Dinner,My Life,Recipes

My mom is a fantastic cook and comes up with great recipes all the time. She told me about this dish and made it for me one day over Thanksgiving break – it’s so delicious that I recreated it last night and I’m sharing the recipe with you. I’m slowly becoming a fan of coconut (I hated the flavor, texture, and taste when I was a kid) and this dish really makes me love aromatic coconut milk. Complex carbohydrates from the wild rice, millet, and quinoa, lots of vegetables, and protein from chicken drumsticks make this dish healthy, filling, and very delicious. I hope you enjoy eating this as much as I did – it’s all made in one pot so there’s little clean up involved and it’s perfect for a weeknight dinner!

Ingredients for the Coconut Chicken and Rice:


1/2 large yellow onion (or 1 small onion)
1 large carrot
1 bag edamame (shelled)
Chicken drumsticks
LOTS of turmeric
1 container coconut milk
Canola oil
Basil (optional)
Millet, quinoa, wild rice, brown rice

First, place all of the grains together in a pot (or rice cooker), rinse a couple of times with cold water, and add water:


Simmer the rice while you’re making the chicken (for 3 people, we used about 1.5 cups of grains total and 3 cups of water. Your water to rice ratio may differ based on whether or not you’re using a rice cooker, how you like your rice cooked, etc).

While the rice is simmering on a back burner, start chopping up your onion:


A rough chop is fine:


And place into a pan with some canola oil over medium heat:


While the onions are cooking, start chopping up your carrots into little cubes and set them aside:


Once the onions become slightly translucent, place the drumsticks in the pot:


With a very heavy hand, sprinkle some turmeric on one side of the chicken:


Once the chicken is seared on one side, turn the drumsticks around:


And add more turmeric:


After the other side has been seared, add in the carrots:


Then add in the frozen edamame (no need to defrost them):


And finally, add in the coconut milk:


Fill the coconut milk halfway with water and add it to the pot (this dilutes the coconut milk a little and makes the sauce a little less thick):


Next add the basil (not necessary, but coconut and basil go really well together):


Let the sauce thicken over a medium heat:


After about 20 minutes, the rice should be done (keep an eye on it while you’re making the coconut chicken if you make the rice over the stove instead of a rice maker. Create a bed of rice and then add the sauce and chicken drumsticks over the rice:


The dish is very healthy; coconut milk can help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, digestive problems, skin cancer and blemishes, the fatty acids in coconut milk (lauric acid) help boost the immune system, and even though there is saturated fat in coconut milk, it’s made of short-chain and medium-chain fatty acids that the body quickly turns into energy instead of storing as fat. Turmeric, the spice used in the dish, is also extremely good for us; it’s a natural liver detoxifier and is well-known for its anti-inflammatory properties. It’s also extremely delicious and perfect for a weeknight meal.

Cost Breakdown:

1/2 large yellow onion (or 1 small onion) – $0.40
1 large carrot – $0.40
1 bag edamame (shelled) – $1.79
Chicken drumsticks – $2.23
LOTS of turmeric – $0.50
1 container coconut milk – $0.99
Canola oil – marginal
Basil (optional) – free
Millet, quinoa, wild rice, brown rice – $1.50 for all four

Total: $7.81

Reader Comments

This sounds so good. I never used coconut and turmeric in my cooking and would love to try. The health benefits are very luring.

Written By Ruby on December 2nd, 2009 @ 2:45 pm


That sounds delicious. Not that I ever cook, but could I use chicken breasts instead of drumsticks as I am not a fan or dark meat?


Written By Marci Melzer on December 6th, 2009 @ 9:48 pm

Marci –

Yes, you can definitely use chicken breasts instead of drumsticks. Let me know how it turns out (if you do end up cooking!)

Written By grace.g.yang on December 6th, 2009 @ 9:50 pm

Hi, great recipe Grace, thanks! I tweaked it though for my tastes… I didn’t use drumsticks as I don’t like messing with skin and fat and also prefer low-fat breast. I fried the onions and then removed them to be safe, as from my cooking experience I think they might have burned continuing to cook them along with the heat required to actually “sear” the chicken. (I added them back in after the sauce added) I added red pepper strips into the sauce, and also thai basil since had in my garden) I’d sliced my boneless,skinless breasts lengthwise, and after it was cooked, I cut into small pieces and threw it back into the sauce to absorb it while cooking. I threw in about a tsp of salt to help flavor too. When it was done, we thought it was DELICIOUS.. too much of the sauce boiled off/absorbed into the chicken pieces though..so I’ll add more water next time… and some chiles!

Written By Phil on March 2nd, 2012 @ 12:13 am

@Phil – so glad you tried the recipe! Your recipe sounds great, too, especially with the addition of basil. I’ll have to try that some time!

Written By grace.g.yang on March 2nd, 2012 @ 9:48 am

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