GUEST BLOG #12 - by Parveen Ashraf, aka The Spice Queen SaveCo Online Ltd

Just Call Me the Rice Queen

My husband often accuses me of being an eternal optimist, he says that I always see the world through rose tinted glasses and he would be correct - as I am. However, I have to admit that even my rosy glasses are a slightly murky grey at the moment...2020 has been a very trying year for many of us and these have been unpresented times indeed. However, I don’t really want to focus on the negatives as that is not my M.O. (modus operandi)…I see it as my job to look at the lighter side of life. So, here is a little food for thought for you... Yes, pun definitely intended. What is the difference between an optimist, a pessimist and an opportunist?...Well the optimist will always see the glass half full; the pessimist will always see the glass half empty whereas the opportunist doesn’t care and just drinks the water!!

I just love it!!... So this week, I have decided to take a short sabbatical from my M.O. and give opportunism a go. So, let me jump straight in and take this opportunity to introduce you to one of my favourite desserts, SWEET COCONUT RICE with coconut cream, mangoes and strawberries. One of the best things about this dessert is that it ticks all the boxes and just about anyone can eat it. It doesn’t matter if they are vegetarian, vegan or coeliac, it is egg-free, dairy-free, gluten-free and nut-free.  With all of those 'frees' in the description you would be forgiven for thinking that the next ‘free’ would be 'taste-free’ but on the contrary it is quite the opposite. This sweet creamy dessert is absolutely divine. 

I first had this dessert whilst on holiday in Hong Kong in 1997. I was expecting my youngest son, Cyrus and had severe heartburn, metallic mouth and nausea. Not only was I on vacation but my taste buds were too! I had gone off the taste of eggs, chocolate and cream, so in terms of desserts I didn’t have much to choose from. But then my brother-in-law, who lived in Hong Kong, suggested a sweet coconut rice dessert. I have to admit I wasn't sold on the whole rice pudding style dessert but I couldn’t have been more wrong! I demolished the first plate and ended up having seconds and thirds - it was so satisfyingly sweet and creamy. Hang on a second, I can hear you saying, how can it be creamy if it's dairy- free? Well that's because it is made with coconut milk is which is not milk in the conventional sense as it derived from coconuts not cows. I'm glad we cleared that up but I can also hear you thinking, surely it cannot be nut-free if it contains 'coconut'? Well, it is because coconut is not actually a nut - it's a seed! 

Best of all, this dessert is so simple to make. It’s actually only three ingredients, rice, coconut milk and sugar. The combination of these three flavours intensifies so much as it cooks and elevates this humble rice pudding to the ‘queen of rice puddings’ what can I say - just call me Parveen the Rice Queen!

In closing, please let me take this opportunity to say whatever you are cooking and whoever you are with - HAVE A HEALTHY AND HAPPY CHRISTMAS!

Recipe For Sweet Coconut Rice




Serves: 4 to 6 
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cooking Time: 30mins


Cooking Instructions:

  1. In a heavy based pan, add the pudding rice, coconut milk, water and sugar.  

  2. Bring the mixture to a boil, stir, reduce heat, cover and simmer on very low for 40 minutes stirring occasionally.  

  3. To make the coconut cream, add all the ingredients – coconut milk, coconut cream and sugar into a saucepan and simmer for 15 minutes.

  4. Garnish with desiccated coconut and edible glitter, if you have it, and serve with slices of fresh mango and/or strawberries. 

TOP TIP – Pour the rice into a cake mould, pack tightly and turn out. Serve with a fruit compote, mango sauce or warm coconut cream for a more celebratory style dessert.
Add another free to the list and go sugar-free by using natural agave syrup instead of refined sugar.
    I have to say a huge thank you to Dana ( for the photography, as always.
    Parveen The Spice


    About the author

    Parveen Ashraf is a passionate foodie, author, TV chef and entrepreneur and newspaper columnist. Her humorous and relatable writing style is always a winner with SaveCo customers and her recipes and blogs are amongst the most viewed pages.  

    For more recipes please visit:, follow her on Instagram and subscribe to the Youtube channel.


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