Actually what I made last night was Coconut/Pineapple Rice with Cumin Chicken. Why the pineapple? This was the first time that I had ever made Coconut Rice with fresh coconut and I was worried – rightly so – that neither the coconut or its water would be sufficiently sweet to perfume the rice.

And hey, both fresh coconuts and pineapples are available daily here in the local Mercado. So why not?

The recipe was improvisational:

First, start the chicken. I used a skillet. Rubbed cumin and salt on the chicken pieces, browned it for 10 minutes on each side. Added white wine and bay leaves and let it simmer.

Second, dumped 2-3 cups of white rice into a pot. Tapped the coconut and drained its water into the rice pan. Next, chopped the tender coconut up into very small pieces, then sliced and diced the pineapple before adding both to the rice pot.

Third, add water to the rice pot to where it covers the top of the rice by maybe 1/2″. Next, bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer 18-20 minutes before turning off the heat to then let it rest with the lid on for an additional 5-10 minutes before serving.

To serve, fill a large bowl with the Coconut/Pineapple Rice and then add the cumin chicken on top.

The flavors are bitter, fruity, slightly smoky, savory, and sweet. And the meal is both healthy and chewy delicious.

PS – My daughter and I both got addicted to Coconut Rice on a trip to some Caribbean country. Jamaica? Colombia? I don’t know. And it doesn’t matter. The important thing to know is that adding coconut to rice is just an inexpensive way to dress up what could otherwise be a pretty bland tasting pot of rice. Saffron Rice is something that they do in Turkey. I learned from my friend, Duriz in Singapore that you can stick all manner of things in with rice. I remember her adding things like fermented pickled greens and dried scallops. Delicious.

Note: As tasty as something like Coconut Rice is, remember that it is still incomplete without a great contrasting flavor/texture. I did cumin chicken last night because fresh chicken is so readily available here. But I’ve had other wonderful accompanying dishes with Coconut Rice like curried shrimp, fried fish, or grilled octopus.