Coconut Rice in Cartagena

IMG_0616 IMG_0689Rosario IslandsIMG_0693

This summer we visited “Cartagena de Indias”, Unesco world heritage, a true gem and my home town! On our flight there, mental notes of wonderful gourmet restaurants flew through my mind. Once there we made the Rosario Islands a must! We had a blast! It didn’t take long to realize how the city had adopted fusion cuisine and wonderful new restaurants. Although happy with all that, my mind was set on going back to my roots. The way my Dad used to WOW my Mom was by simply taking her out for a nice romantic dinner at the “Club de Pesca.” So many memories remain attached to the 480 year-old wall structure for me and my siblings. This takes me to the Fried Coconut rice served there. Not only it’s perfectly moist, but it has just the right texture! If you want to try it at home, then here is the recipe with some tips:

Ingredients: 2 Cans of coconut milk, 1 or cups of rice (depending on how much rice you’ll make), 2 small boxes of raisins, panela (sold as piloncillo in the US markets international aisle) salt and 1/2 cup of sugar (brown sugar works best.) Dutch oven with lid works best (closest to the ‘caldero.’) Tip: Ratio of rice to liquid for best results would be 1 cup of rice: 2 cups of liquid.

Here is the other part of this story. A new word, “Titote”, needs to be introduced here. Titote is the caramel that must be prepared at the base of the dutch oven, as the first step. To prepare the Titote, add the coconut milk, sugar and half of the raisins to the dutch oven. Watch it carefully and mix well occasionally. Once it is close to becoming candy (with a dark brown color) then you know you have reached the right consistency. Add the liquid of the second coconut milk and add more sugar. Add a pinch of salt (literally.) The salt will help enhance the wonderful flavors. Add the rice and the rest of the raisins. Mix well. Let it simmer until all liquids have evaporated. At that point cover the dutch oven with the lid and move heat to low. Time to cook is usually 1 hour on low.  Enjoy!

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