Wali wa Nazi – Kenyan Coconut Rice2013-03-10
Wali wa Nazi (wali, cooked rice; nazi, coconut) is a Swahili dish popular on Africa’s Indian ocean coast, particularly in Swahili areas like Zanzibar, Lamu, Malindi, and Mombasa. It is a creamy, rich accompaniment to any meat, chicken, fish, or curry.
What you need
- two cups of rice, well-washed, rinsed, soaked in water for twenty minutes, and drained (basmati rice is especially favored)
- four cups coconut milk, (two cups thick, two cups thin) home-made or canned, unsweetened (see below)
- salt (to taste, approximately one teaspoon)
What you do
- Bring the thin coconut milk to a near boil in a saucepan. Add the rice and salt. Cook for about ten minutes, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to very low.
- Stir in the thick coconut milk. Continue stirring for five minutes while the mixture simmers.
- Cover tighly. Make sure the fire is as low as possible. Let steam for twenty to twenty-five minutes.
- Serve with Samaki wa Kupaka, or Tanzanian Meat Stew, Mchuzi wa Samaki or any Swahili-style curry dish.
Coconut Juice, Coconut Milk
Coconut juice and coconut milk are not the same thing.
Coconut juice (also called coconut water, or agua de coco) is the liquid found inside a green (unripe) coconut, which diminishes as the coconut ripens. Coconut juice is a refreshing beverage. It is consumed right-out-of-the-coconut in tropical Africa; you pick your coconut from the street vendor’s pile, he whacks the top off it with a machete and hands it to you. Canned coconut juice can be found in grocery stores. It is not used in cooking.
“Thick” and “thin” coconut milk are made from the meat of the ripened coconut. They can be approximated by diluting canned coconut milk.
Using coconut meat. To make thick coconut milk: In a glass bowl, combine equal parts, by volume, of near-boiling water and coconut meat; i.e., enough water to cover the coconut. The coconut can be fresh or dried, shredded or flaked — if using packaged coconut meat, use unsweetened. Stir well and allow the mixture to stand for up to an hour. Squeeze the mixture very tightly in your hands, or run it through a blender or food processor. Strain everything through a cheesecloth, using the cloth to wring all liquid from the coconut meat. This liquid is the thick coconut milk. Then, repeat the process, re-using the same coconut meat to make thin coconut milk. The used coconut meat should be thrown away.
Using canned coconut milk. If using canned unsweetened coconut milk (15 oz. can): Shake the can, vigorously, before opening. Divide the contents of the can into two parts, placing about two-thirds of the can’s contents in one measuring cup (capable of holding at least two cups) and the remaining one-third in another. Add enough hot water to each cup to make two cups. The first is the “thick”, the second is the “thin”.