Colombian coconut rice

Colombian coconut rice or Arroz con Coco, is one of the biggest staples of Colombian cuisine; originally from the Colombian Caribbean coast and more specifically Cartagena, it has spread to the whole country. This is my perspective, then again I lived for about 12 years in that region, so I would say my view is a bit biased.

Nonetheless, the mere name should be tickling your curiosity; coconut is good, rice is good then how would coconut rice taste? Humm….. Interesting. If this has been your thought process, I promise you, you won’t be disappointed! This rice has depth in flavour you would not expect and a delicious mix of sweet and salty rounded up with explosions of sweet raisins juice.

If you feel you know the process feel free to skip down to the recipe, because this post will be a bit more step by step with pictures and more detailed explanations. Given that trying to achieve something so inherent to a region/country in other parts of the world, is sometimes, a bit difficult due to lack of ingredients.  

See detailed explanation

There are a couple of different ways of making coconut rice and different styles and recipes. I’ll share with you my mother’s recipe which in my opinion, is the most commonly used as it resembles greatly to the rice at “authentic” restaurants in Cartagena as well. There’s the traditional way making everything from scratch, then there is a shortcut way where you start with a premade, store bought coconut caramel-like base and then there is a replacement way. 

The ingredient list is simple, coconut, rice, water, sugar, salt and raisins and with only this 6 ingredients we will make magic.

In Colombia you can find this amazing product called Titote, which makes life so much easier, but if you are willing to put in the effort it can be achieved with canned coconut milk or making coconut milk yourself.

Once you have the coconut milk (1 big can should be enough for 6 people or the milk of 1 medium coconut) you need to make Titote. 

Titote is basically the cooked coconut fat down to almost a charring point. It should look like small dark brown peas swimming on coconut oil. From placing you coconut milk at a medium heat to achieving this Titote state is should take approximately 20 min. 


Once you have you Titote, now you need to make a kind of “melao”, melt sugar and coconut fat together. Add 1 1/2 tbs of brown sugar and stir for a couple of minutes until everything is blended nicely.

You need to have your rice ready to add to the pot by this stage. I like using Jasmin rice, as it gives a nice full grain that does not clump. Clumpy Coconut rice is a big NONO! To avoid this rinse you rice thoroughly until there the water coming though is nice and clear. 1 cup of rice should be enough for 4 side portions

Wash your rice
Wash your rice

Now you add the rinsed rice to the sugar and Titote mix and stir until the rice is coated completely by the Titote mix. Then let it simmer for about 2 – 5 minutes until the grains begin to get slightly transparent.

Titote and rice mix

From now on you continue making rice the usual way: Add double the amount of rice, in our case 2 cups of water and 1 tsp of salt. Stir until the salt has dissolved and then taste the water. Adjust sugar and salt to fit your palate. Bring the rise to a boil and let it continue boiling until the water has been absorved by the rice completely. The picture below shows how the rice should look just before putting the lid on.


Add a handful of raisins (this step is optional, but I strongly recommend you try it at least once with the raisins), put the lid on and lower the heat to the minimum. Allow to continue cooking at this low heat for about 15 minutes. Then check the texture of the grain and allow to continue cooking a bit longer if necessary. Or if you find the rice to be done, serve it as a compliment to any kind of meat or fish. It is a great compliment and it will definitely bring your meal to a whole new level. 


Colombian coconut rice
Serves 4
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
40 min
  1. 1 cup rice, rinsed
  2. 3 tbs titote
  3. 2 cups water
  4. 2 tbs brown sugar
  5. 1 1/2 tsp salt
  6. 1 handful raisins (optional)
  1. 1. Melt the titote in a pot that has a tight lid, (Follow directions in detailed explanation)
  2. 2. Add sugar and stir until it is evenly blended over medium heat.
  3. 3. Add the rinsed rice to the titote mix and stir until the rice is evenly coated. Allow to simmer for a couple of minutes.
  4. 4. Add water and salt and stir until salt has dissolved. Taste and adjust sugar and salt according to your liking.
  5. 5. Increase the heat to medium high and bring to a boil.
  6. 6. Allow the rice to boil until the water has been absorbed/evaporated and the rice seems dry.
  7. 7. Add raisins, put the lid on and lower heat to minimum.
  8. 8. Let the rice cook for 15 minutes more and then taste for texture. If the rice is too moist or has still too much of a bit let it continue cooking for 5 minutes more. If note serve as compliment to the meat or fish dish of your liking.
Purpledalia @ home


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