Coconut rice is an intrinsic accompaniment in Colombian cuisine, particularly in the coastal regions of the country like Cartagena. A whole fried fish, for example, with a side of plantains and coconut rice is incredible. Traditionally though, the recipe requires briefly baking whole coconuts, cracking them open, extracting the juice, scraping, grating, frying.....simply put, it is not something you can just whip up. The part where the juice is extracted and then fried results in little brown bits of coconut that give the rice its color, flavor and a hint of coconut greasiness. It's hands down one of the most beautiful rice dishes on the planet.
Fortunately there is, and has been for a while, a product called Titoté (in writing this post I just realized that my family has been pronouncing this incorrectly for years - see, it has an accent (tilde) on the last "e"). In the little glass jars you will find the result of all the labor regularly put into making the coconut part of coconut rice: coconut concentrate. Once you have this essential part of the dish, making coconut rice is a breeze.
You can find Titoté in most supermarkets in Bogotá, like Carulla. I'm not too sure where else you can find it so I would suggest stocking up if you are here and taking it with you. This recipe was fine tuned by my mother and the result is a perfectly balanced coconut rice with just the perfect amount of sweet and salty. I love getting raisins in almost every bite, so I tend to use a heaping 1/2 cup of raisins.
TITOTÉ Arroz con Coco/Coconut Rice
1 small jar (250 g) TITOTÉ
4 cups water
4 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 cups rice
½ cup raisins packed
Place the contents of the jar of TITOTÉ, water, sugar, and salt in a medium to large pot and bring to a boil. Stir occasionally until all the ingredients are dissolved then add the rice and raisins.
Lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, until most of the liquid has evaporated and holes form in the rice. Lower heat, cover, and cook for 25 minutes. Fluff rice and serve.