July 6, 2006
Arroz con coco or Unhealthy (but tasty) Colombian vegetarian cuisine: Part 1 in a series

arroz_con_coco_jf.jpgIt's true: vegetarian food doesn't have to be good for you. Just ask the Colombians.

You don't see me posting a lot of Colombian dishes here on TMC because dishes are nearly always meat-based (and we keep a vegetarian kitchen), and the veggie dishes that do exist are either bland (more unseasoned corn flour?) or horrible for you (I like fried things as much as the next guy, but come on!) and often both. But here we throw caution to the wind and make what is probably my favorite veggie side dish found here and in other countries in the region that are in or border the Caribbean.

Obviously for most of you reading this blog, the crux is finding this jar of coconut. Try your local Latino or Caribbean market. Otherwise grate yourself a fresh coconut (haven't you always wanted to invest in one of those little stools that has a little, what I can only describe as a, cowboy spur?)

This rice is generally served on a side plate with a half of avocado (you know, because there's not enough fat in the coconut). They serve it with grilled meats of all varieties. If you're having soup, the side of rice is usually plain.


Arroz con coco

1 small jar of concentrado de coco (4.3 oz or 125 gr)
5 cups water
2 cups rice
2 t salt
2-3 T sugar
raisins to taste

Put it all in a pot together and cook it up as you normally would. These, by the way, might be high-altitude directions. Four cups of water might be what you want.

Posted by Justin in Bogotá at July 6, 2006 8:20 AM Print-friendly version

This is a side dish and not dessert? With mango it would be dessert in my house. Either way, it sounds delicious!

Posted by Rachael on July 12, 2006 at 10:37 AM

Well, it doesn't have quite that much sugar (nor does it have milk). Although if you added more sugar and/or milk, it would be a great version of rice pudding.

Posted by Justin on July 12, 2006 at 12:57 PM

Well I am not 100% sure about Colombia (will check it out) but in Venezuela we make it as a home made dessert and its just Arroz con Leche, althought it has sugar and milk, in my opinion its healthier then most dessert serve in the states. And its not a tipical vegeterian dish

Posted by Diggliana Alvarez - Sentidos Culinarios on July 12, 2006 at 5:51 PM

Well, what do you know...there is a difference between Colombian and Venezuelan food.

Posted by Justin on July 13, 2006 at 9:50 AM

This is my favorite rice. But remember to use only white or japanese rice. Never use long, enriched or basmati rice for this.

For non-vegetarians: This is a perfect side dish to seafood main courses. It doesn't go quite as well with beef or poultry.

For the Venezuelans: this is not quite the same as a rice pudding, which Colombians also have (one of many variations of the pudding uses coconut as well). As Justin mentioned: No milk here. Most importantly: this rice should be only slightly sweet, sticky but dry.

Unhealthy for your body but the opposite for the coconut craving souls!

Posted by mariluciernaga on July 30, 2006 at 5:57 PM

Is this Columbian recipe for Arroz Con coco posted somewhere? I seem to have a big picture of the desert right ON TOP of the recipe. Thx

Posted by Clueless on August 8, 2006 at 12:20 AM

Hey how you dare to say that colombian dishes are bland or horrible ... and unhealty ....you have no idea what are you talking about

Posted by Me on June 5, 2008 at 3:03 PM

Coconut unhealty? Come on!

Posted by Ninju on July 2, 2008 at 10:23 AM

so.....coconut rice is unhealty but a greasy burge is not.....right

Posted by nayibis on July 20, 2008 at 5:45 PM

that's not exactly the way you prepare arroz con coco, for your information there are 2 kinds of these recipes; one for the atlantic zone("the one above")which is a little bit sweet; the other kind from the pacific zone which is salty and white.

Besides, the best tipe of oil that people should use to cook is coconut oil wich resist more than any other the high temperatures.

justin you don't know nothing.....

Posted by LIZ on October 4, 2008 at 1:59 PM

This is a recipe from the Atlantic Coast of Colombia; it is served with fresh fish and platanos; it is delicious! try it.

Posted by Gloria on October 15, 2008 at 2:44 PM

Hi there,

Recently moved from Sydney to rural Portugal and cant quite find ingredients easily has I used to! But no one can stop my love for food... so i will try!
Can someone pls tell me if i they have tried making this dish with coconut cream?
I think it maybe my only option!

Posted by Isabela on November 17, 2008 at 6:48 AM

You have no idea about arroz con coco...
It is not unhealthy!!!
The "titote" concentrate of coconut is a great solution to prepare this delicious dish, which is not at a desert, please! it is a side dish to combine with fish.... you can find several recipes of arroz con coco online...

Posted by Airton on December 26, 2008 at 9:24 AM

My mother is Colombian, and she makes very good arroz con coco... she has used the Colombian jar of coco concentrado and she has also used creamed coconut... so if that's all you have access to, it should still work!

Posted by Daniel on December 31, 2008 at 9:17 PM

This is *not* a dessert. arroz con coco is best served with a whole, pan-fried fish (red snapper - yum), a wedge of lime, fried green plantains and ice cold beer. preferably on a hot day on a white sand beach. that is my favorite way to have this rice, but then I am from the northern coast of Colombia. I also like to eat it in my mom's dining room, but really the white sand beach does something... amazing.

Posted by andrea on January 9, 2009 at 4:50 PM

coconut milk or oil are not unhealthy. neither is avocado. c'mon stop believing the hype that low fat is somehow better for you. Traditional diets (coconut oil, palm oil, lard, butter...in moderation of course) along with fresh fruits, vegetables and limited amount of animal protein is what produced healthy robust populations...don't believe the hype that processed, white flours, sugars and no animal protein is healthy. Just take a look at Weston Price's book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration...he was a dentist who visited populations that did not have contact with the western world's nutrition and he found across the board that people who ate traditional foods (fermented food, yogurt, milk, whole grains, vegetables, animal proteins) had far better health, no tooth decay etc...It is the modern diet which is laden with sugars, processed grains, margarine, soy etc. weird oils like canola, corn etc...that take tons of chemical processes to make are what make us unhealthy.

As a Colombian don't blame coconut oil one of the best sources of antioxidants, antimicrobial, lowering cholesteral, maintaining healthy weight, preventing heart disease as any oil can have.

Blame your unnatural pure vegetarian diet. We are omnivores and a little animal protein is what we are supposed to have. Try a little bone broth soup on a daily basis and watch your immune system pick up.

Try the nourishing traditions cookbook for a recipe and read Bruce Fife's miracle of coconut oil to start.

Posted by louisa on July 14, 2009 at 9:40 PM

All I can say TO YOU is TOO MANY INSULTS to Colombian food. TOO MANY IGNORANT COMMENTS, TOO MANY SIGNS OF LACK OF MANNERS, ETIQUETTE, AND CULTURAL LITERACY. The only thing horrible for you thing here is YOUR IGNORANCE. I declare you PERSONA NON GRATA in Colombia.

Posted by Adriana on July 31, 2010 at 1:50 PM

Come on, Arroz con coco is not unhealthy. Do you tasted the american food? is horrible and unhealthy.

Posted by Caro on February 12, 2011 at 7:27 PM

I agree with the comments above. I am Colombian and find the comments a little insulting…but not that I'll take it to heart or anything LOL, and does it matter? if we eat so unhealthy and high in fats... then how come we have a low rate of obesity in Colombia?…just saying….no offense

Posted by natalia on April 16, 2011 at 5:17 PM
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