Narali Bhat | Instant Pot Coconut Sweet Rice

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For a lightly sweet, fragrant afternoon treat that can also serve as a mealtime dish, try Narali Bhat, or coconut sweet rice. Impress your friends by making Narali Bhat for your next potluck. This is a celebration food for a reason! The sweet, fragrant rice is an easy Instant Pot dish that can also be made on the stove.

Bowl of narali bhat

Narali Bhat is a traditional Maharashtrian dish served for Narali Poornima, a festival that marks the end of the monsoon season. 

Most festival dishes aren’t as easy to make as Narali Bhat. This dish can be made in only 15 minutes, simply by adding ingredients to the Instant Pot and letting it cook. The result has the classic Indian fragrances of cinnamon, cardamom , and cloves. As well as the coconut and basmati rice often found in Maharashtrian food.

Cooking on the Stovetop

I like cooking this in the Instant Pot because it is so simple to throw everything in and let it go. But it is nearly as easy to cook on the stovetop. The saute steps are all the same, but when it comes time to steam the rice, make sure to cook it for about 15 minutes, as if you are cooking plain basmati rice.

Alternatively, you can also make it on the stovetop with already prepared rice. Simply prepare your spices and mix them in with the rice. Allow it to cook for a few minutes. It will taste best if you let it sit for a little while to allow the flavors to incorporate into the rice.

Alterations

Bowl of narali bhat
  • Add more coconut flavor and moisture. Stir in up to one cup of coconut milk to the prepared rice.
  • Add more or less jaggery depending on how sweet you like it
  • The cashews and raisin are optional, you can try substituting other nuts or dry fruits
  • Rice: basmati is my go-to Indian rice, but this dish can be made with any low-starch rice, such as jasmine rice, or the more traditional Ambemohar rice from Maharashtra (if you can find it)
  • What if you don’t have jaggery?
    • Pilloncillo, sold at Mexican markets is a great substitue for jaggery
    • Use regular table sugar 
    • Use coconut sugar

About this Recipe

This recipe comes from the Maharashtrian and Goan traditions. My mom taught me to make this dish, which she learned from one of her good friends from Goa. Naral is Marathi for coconut, and bhat mean rice.

This dish keeps very well, in fact it often tastes better the second day. Which makes it all the more perfect as a potluck dish, since you can make it way ahead of time.

History of the Dish

Narali Bhat is traditionally served during Narali Poornima. Narali Poornima is an important festival for the coastal kolis, or fishing community, of Maharashtra. It marks the end of the monsoon season and the first day of fishing. 

This year, Narali Poornima was on August 12th (2022), next year it will be on August 11th. The day changes because of the lunar calendar. Narali Bhat always takes place during a full moon.

Fisherman do not fish during the monsoon season because it is too dangerous, and it is the spawning season for the fish. This gives them a chance to spawn so they do not become overfished.

Narali Poornima is a festival for showing gratitude to the Deity Varuna, the god of oceans in the Hindu Puranas. During the festival, people offer Varuna a coconut and complete puja rituals. They decorate the fishing boats which the fishermen take out to sea. In the evening there is a lot of singing and dancing.

Narali Poornima also coincides with the Hindu festival, Raksha Bhandan, so in Maharashtra the two festivals are like one. During Raksha Bhandan, sisters tie rakhi onto their brother’s wrist. A symbol of protection, which seems appropriate for such an occasion as the beginning of fishing season.

Full bowl of coconut sweet rice

Serving Narali Bhat

Make Narali Bhat to celebrate the fishing season, or just because you like it. It’s a wonderful dish to bring to any party, or as a nice side dish in thali.

Since narali bhat is a sweetened dish, you may be tempted to serve it after a meal as a dessert. In India, that would be unusual because a typical Indian meal does not separate the sweet from the rest of the meal. 

Narali bhat is more typically served as part of an overall thali, which would include different vegetables, meats, lentils, and flatbread like roti. Since narali bhat is the desert, you may also have a savory rice in addition to this sweet rice.

Ingredients in Narali Bhat: rice, jaggery, raisins, coconut milk, coconut, ghee, cinnamon, cloves, cashews, saffron, salt

Recipe Card

Bowl of narali bhat or coconut sweet rice

Narali Bhat | Instant Pot Coconut Sweet Rice

Puja Thomas-Patel
Narali Bhat, or coconut sweet rice, is a lightly sweet, fragrant afternoon treat that can also serve as a mealtime dish. Impress your friends by making Narali Bhat for your next potluck. This is a celebration food for a reason! The sweet, fragrant rice is an easy Instant Pot dish that can also be made on the stove.
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 6 mins
Total Time 16 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine Indian
Servings 6
Calories 317 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 Instant Pot or Pressure Cooker

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup jaggery
  • 2 piece of cinnamon stick
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 3 cloves
  • Pinch of saffron
  • ½ tsp ground cardamom
  • ½ cup grated coconut
  • 10 cashews whole
  • 15 golden raisins split

Instructions
 

  • Rinse the basmati rice at least 3 times (much like when making plain basmati rice, but without the need to soak.
  • Set Instant Pot to saute mode (or saute on a stove). Heat 2 tablespoons of ghee.
  • Toast cashews and remove when the cashews become fragrant and begin to brown.
  • Toast raisins and remove before they start to burn.
  • Add rice. Toast about 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly.
  • Add jaggery, coconut, and pinch of saffron.
  • Cook under high pressure for 6 minutes.
  • Quick release, garnish with toasted cashews and raisins.

Video

Notes

  • To add more coconut flavor and moisture, stir in up to one cup of coconut milk to the prepared rice.
  • Add more or less jaggery depending on how sweet you like it
  • The cashews and raisins are optional. You can try substituting other nuts or dry fruits
  • Rice: basmati is my go-to Indian rice, but this dish can be made with any low-starch rice, such as jasmine rice, or the more traditional Ambemohar rice from Maharashtra (if you can find it)
  • What if you don’t have jaggery?
    • Pilloncillo, sold at Mexican markets is a great substitute for jaggery
    • Use regular table sugar 
    • Use coconut sugar

Nutrition

Calories: 317kcalCarbohydrates: 48gProtein: 4gFat: 12gSaturated Fat: 9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.5gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 6mgSodium: 107mgPotassium: 170mgFiber: 3gSugar: 19gVitamin A: 4IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 40mgIron: 2mg
Keyword narali bhat, Narali Poornima, sweet coconut rice
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Comments

Have you tried making Narali Bhat? What are your thoughts on this recipe? Did we leave any questions you have unanswered? Leave a comment and let us know. Enjoy!

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