Soak: 3 hours or overnight // Cook: 10 min // Wait: 30 min
With mangoes being in season, this iconic Thai hearty, creamy and refreshing dessert, easy to make, is ideal for adult or toddler treat.
If you are into rice puddings (like myself) this is one to try and one that earns my "healthy dessert" approval stamp as you can get around the recipe with a minimum amount of sweetener or even without. Not to mention there is no butter or egg or frying, making it also a good choice for vegetarian and vegan diets.
This dish is served as a dessert in Thailand. But it's so good that I had it for dessert, snack, breakfast, as a side with dinner or along with my mango smoothie (mango-everything). It’s relatively easy to make, and the ingredients can be found in mainstream supermarket chains.
Undoubtedly one of the best (if not the best) fruits in the world. Although we can nowadays buy it all year round, the best season is from April to June. There are many different varieties cultivated around the world, but we are specifically fond of the Asian yellow ‘nam dok mai’ variety with the pointy tip and the silky, tender and sweet flesh. And we are lucky enough to get some of those here in the UK at this time of year (read more about mango varieties and how to chose in Michelin's page here) . Having said that, I was also quite lucky to learn how to prepare this delightful dish with fresh mango during our recent visit in Thailand (lucky travels, just before the pandemic changed the world as we know it) and the cooking classes I took there. It’s amazingly easy and I can guarantee if you find the right mangoes and a high percentage of coconut milk, you’ll get close to 99% of the authentic taste of Thailand.
It is important to get thick in consistency and high percentage in coconut milk products. The product we used in the class for all dishes was called ‘Aroy-D’ where you can find in the UK in Asian supermarkets and comes in different coconut milk percentages. Check the label and choose something with over 60% coconut.
Although mangoes can be substituted for other varieties (just make sure your mangoes are ripe), there is no compromise for the rice. If you want to succeed with this pudding, you need the proper rice: Glutinous (or sticky) rice. It is called glutinous in the sense of behaving like glue (no, it’s not from gluten and it is gluten-free) when cooked, due to the low percentage of amylose. It’s a bit shorter and more opaque compared to classic long grain rice. Check at the end of this page for some buying options.
The alternative could be the Japanese sushi rice, which is also glutinous and performs really well for this recipe too. Our toddler absolutely loved sticky rice in Thailand as it was pretty easy to grab with his little clumsy hands and funny in texture which kept him busy and entertained while we were eating. On the downside, don't be surprised if you find sticky grains everywhere (even in his nappy).
Today he wolfed down a full adult portion of the puddings I just made!
The 2 main secrets taught by the Thai chefs are the soaking of the rice overnight to get the desired chewy and fluffy texture and the use of muslin cloth for straining. Although this could make some difference in the consistency of the sauce when serving (makes it a bit silkier), I found out that skipping this step completely for brevity works pretty well too. In my recipe, I boiled the rice (instead of steaming it as Thais do) and didn’t use muslin.
Again, this is something you can find in Asian groceries (or see my recommended products at the end of the page for an alternative buying option) and gives a flavour boost to the sauce. Thais use it to sweeten nearly every dish of their cuisine. In this recipe, I’ve swapped it for something which, in theory, is a little bit healthier, agave nectar. Agave nectar is not quite strong in flavour, has a lower GI and you can use less in quantity as it’s sweeter than sugar. Coconut is naturally sweet so if you decide to go for a sugar-free version, you might even want to skip the sweetener completely.
Ingredients (4 servings)
200g Glutinous Sticky Rice (or Sushi rice)
250ml Coconut milk
1 tbsp sweetener (Agave nectar / Palm sugar / plain brown sugar)
2 ripe yellow mangoes
Pinch of salt
For garnish: black basil seeds (or black sesame) and fresh mint leaves
Prepare the sticky rice: for best result, soak overnight in cold fresh water, then rinse and let it drain completely before cooking. Alternatively, soak for a minimum of 3 hours before cooking. I suggest following the pack instructions if not buying loose.
In a smaller pan add the coconut milk, pinch of salt and sweetener and stir in low heat until well combined and thick. Don’t let it boil, it will break the coconut structure and you won’t get that silky texture in your sauce. (Alternatively, the traditional way is to strain the milk with a cheesecloth (or muslin), then add sugar and salt and stir until completely dissolved. Then heat it up stirring continuously until it gets a thick consistency).
When rice is cooked remove from heat and pour 2/3 of the coconut milk mixture into the rice pot. Save the other 1/3 to be used as a sauce. Stir to mix milk with rice, cover with the lid and set aside to absorb for around 30 minutes.
While the rice soaks the coconut milk, prepare the mangoes. Cut in two, destone, peel and slice them as per your preference. I like slicing but also like this dicing effect:
Arrange the mangoes on the plate and spoon the rice in a mould or coffee cup. Press and turn out in the middle of the plate.
Drizzle the remaining 1/3 of the coconut sauce over the rice and sprinkle some basil (or sesame) seeds before serving.
It can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
Tip: The coconut milk must be immediately added when the rice is cooked. If rice is cooled down, it won’t be able to absorb the milk and you’ll end up with a soggy rice mixture.
Below are my favourite authentic products I used to cook and shoot this recipe. If you can't see the icons and links below, please deactivate your ad-blocker and refresh the page :-)
Thai Cookbooks: If you like good looking and exceptional content cookbooks and you'd only go for one Thai cookbook, that'd be definitely Phaidon Press Thai Cookbook. Bulky but comprehensive, this book is the A-Z of Thai food; with recipes collected from chefs and locals throughout the whole country, you will find here all authentic food that you've tasted in Thailand or in your local Thai restaurant. But if you are addicted to Thai food and cook Thai a great deal, I'd totally recommend getting at least one more book. My personal preference would be something from Bangkok as it's not only the capital of Thailand but the whole Thai cuisine too. My first choice would be Bangkok Cookbook: Unique twists to authentic recipes that you can only find being cooked in Bangkokian street stalls, food stories from the capital and beautiful photography. Alternatively, I also liked a lot the Busaba cookbook. Not just for being one of my favourite casual Thai restaurants in London, but also because the recipes are designed for a party table or casual dinner with friends, meaning they are fun and simple to recreate and the ingredients easy to be found.
Shop the look: If you like the serving styling in my photos, here are some suggestions for products you can buy from Amazon and build similar dining sets of your own:
Coconut Milk: I like Aroy D, it's the brand widely used by Thai chefs in Thailand which you can find in selected Asian stores or online from Amazon (Link below). Another alternative is the ‘Thai Taste’ brand which packs over 80% coconut milk and can be found in big mainstream supermarkets or, again, at Amazon (link below).
Glutinous Sticky Rice: I recommend the ‘Thai Taste’ brand that you can easily find in big supermarkets or go for something more Thai like the royal umbrella brand which is widely used in Thailand and is a good value for money too!
Palm Sugar: Palm sugar is widely used in Thai cuisine to sweeten the dishes and desserts as it is widely available and cheap. Here in the UK, it's a bit more expensive but nevertheless, makes a huge contribution (and eventually difference) at the final product's taste as it has a strong fruity taste itself. So if you cook Thai, I'd totally recommend going for a pack of good quality palm sugar.