The classic combination of coconut milk, sticky rice, and sweet ripe mango has been a popular Thai dessert for centuries. In the U.S. most people know of mango sticky rice (or khao niaow ma muang) from going to Thai restaurants, but this gluten-free treat is actually incredibly easy to make at home. The base ingredient is glutinous rice (often labeled “sweet rice” on the package), a short-grain variety grown all over Asia that develops a chewy texture when cooked. (It’s also ground into flour to make other East and Southeast Asian dishes, like mochi.) While you can’t make sticky rice by just throwing it in the rice cooker, like jasmine rice, it’s not hard to prepare: After you rinse the grains, you soak them overnight, then cook them in a steamer lined with cheesecloth or a kitchen towel. (Here we use a makeshift steamer by setting a sieve over a pot of water.) Then all you have to do is mix the cooked rice with some coconut milk and sugar, pair it with fresh mango, and scatter on some toasted sesame seeds.
In Thailand this dish is most popular in the spring, which is peak mango season. But these days good mangoes can be found in the markets (or ordered online) pretty much any time of year. The best kinds of mangoes for this dish are the sweet, creamy varieties with golden skins rather than the larger, rounder kinds that get a reddish hue on the skin.
In a bowl wash rice well in several changes of cold water until water is clear. Soak rice in cold water to cover overnight.
Drain rice well in a sieve. Set sieve over a large deep saucepan of simmering water (sieve should not touch water) and steam rice, covered with a kitchen towel and a lid, 30 to 40 minutes, or until tender (check water level in pan occasionally, adding more water if necessary).
While rice is cooking, in a small saucepan bring 1 cup coconut milk to a boil with ⅓ cup sugar and salt, stirring until sugar is dissolved, and remove from heat. Keep mixture warm.
Transfer cooked rice to a bowl and stir in coconut-milk mixture. Let rice stand, covered, 30 minutes, or until coconut-milk mixture is absorbed. Rice may be prepared up to this point 2 hours ahead and kept covered at room temperature.
While rice is standing, in cleaned small pan slowly boil remaining ⅓ cup coconut milk with remaining 3 tablespoons sugar, stirring occasionally, 1 minute. Transfer sauce to a small bowl and chill until cool and thickened slightly.
To serve, mold ¼ cup servings of sticky rice on dessert plates. Drizzle desserts with sauce and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Divide mango slices among plates.
Editor's note:This recipe was originally published in the June 1994 issue of ‘Gourmet’ and first appeared on Epicurious in August 2004.Head this way for more of our favorite mango recipes →
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I loved the 1/3 salt fail. I had a funny series of failures but it turned out delicious anyway. I used my bamboo steamer on a large pot. But the lid couldn't fit over everything, so I relied on a thick towel to hold in most of the steam. After an hour of steaming, the rice was still very chewy and almost hard. So, I stirred in the sweet coconut sauce anyway. I put the lid on and set on the warmer for 45 minutes. It absorbed the sauce but still not tender and soft. So, the whole thing went into a freezer bag with some cream and water and into a 200 degree sous vide bath. After an hour of that, the rice was perfect. Here's the next problem though. I tried to pull out the super hot bag from the corner with my fingers. Dumb move. The sealed broke open and water began to dilute the rice and sweetness. I immediately drained what I could and put the lid on for half an hour to absorb any excess liquid. It was both a disaster and it turned out just as good as from a great restaurant. Next time I'll just put everything into the sous vide (lightly pinned to the side) and gently fish out the bag after cooling the water first. I'm positive it'll be even better next time!
I went looking for a recipe for this after trying it in a restaurant. Made it with black glutinous rice (because that’s what the restaurant did), and it was excellent. I’ve paired it with mango, but also with a homemade mango sorbet because we have some people who aren’t fussed on the texture of real mango, and it went down a treat both ways, and I especially liked it with a little bit of both. It’s one of those dishes that’s more than the sum of it’s parts, like strawberries and cream. The sweet coconut rice and mango taste good separately but together they make something really special.
The first time I made this I added 1/3 cup of salt insert of the 1/4th teaspoon because the entrusted stated "boil with ⅓ cup sugar and salt" and I read it as adding 1/3rd cup of sugar AND 1/3rd cup of salt. I would say if you could edit this make sure that the measurements are stated for both the sugar and the salt. Although, the second time it was delicious so I definitely recommend it.
Made this twice. Absolutely awesome recipe. The whole family loves it.
This was really good. I followed the recipe exactly, except, since I didn't have mango, (I know that this is the traditional way to complete this recipe so don't ding me :) ). Instead, I added golden raisins to the warm coconut milk and rice mixture while the rice was absorbing the milk, so this was more like a cross between a rice pudding and sweet sticky rice. I loved it and will make it this way again but also will make it with the mango next time. This recipe has a lot of steps but it is easy to make.
Los Angeles, CA
It's very good. I use the traditional Thai baskets to steam the rice, and use glutinous rice. My one qualm with this recipe is that the cup of coconut milk mixture is too much liquid. Reduce by 1/4 cup unless you want to swamp your rice.
Los Angeles, CA
Funny the people who say to omit the sesame seed for it to be more authentic. I just returned from Thailand and sesame seeds were on EVERY serving I had of this amazing dessert. Now I need to learn to make it! Will try this recipe soon! I hope I can find some good mangos.
Salt Lake City
Made this last night for a dinner party. It was well received! I used coconut sugar since we did not have normal refined sugar. The look was more like a dulce de leche for mine but believe the taste and consistency was the same. I will make this again, however I would not prepare the rice so ahead of time so that I can serve the dish warm, like they do in the restaurants. Or I would place the rice in a rice cooker to keep warm instead of letting cool in a bowl w a towel over. It was simple to create and ingredient minimal.
I made this again last night, using my rice cooker. I soaked the rice in warm water for about an hour and then rinsed. The perfect ratio was 1 part rice to 1 and 1/3 parts water. My birthday-girl colleague loves it! It's really delicious!
This is my first EVER recipe review and I have to say it tastes just like the sticky rice in any THAI restaurant. Like others I only soaked the rice for three hours. Do not be intimidated by the steaming instructions, you can steam any way. I used my dutch oven. Totally worth making!
my family loved this desert and so did i. i did not soak the rice overnight, but did rinse it several times and soaked it for 3 hours or so. will definitely make over and over.
des moines, ia
This turned out perfect with very little fuss. It's an easy dessert to serve when you have guests as you everything can be prepared in advance. Made it for friends and we all lurrrved it! Definitely give it a try!!
This recipe sounded so good and I had these delicious ripe Indian mangos and a can of lite coconut milk in the cupboard, but no sweet rice or patience. So I made Basmati rice (the only white rice I had) in the rice cooker in 20 minutes and otherwise followed the recipe. Taking a tip from another reviewer, I used toasted coconut instead of sesame seeds. I know my dish is far from the right consistency (not sticky at all), it is none-the-less so delicious I can't stop eating it. Haven't tried it on anybody else yet though. I had an urge to add some lime juice or lime zest, but resisted it. Wonder if that would make it even yummier. Unrelated tip: freeze diced leftover mango and coconut milk (use ice cube tray) to add to smoothies. Blend with a little orange juice and milk and a little sweetener, if desired. Tastes like Mango sherbet.
Mmmmmm!! Just like our favorite Thai restaurant makes (actually better since I don't have to pay $7 for one little bowl...) Next time I might try using toasted coconut in place of the seeds, but it's good with the seeds too. Yum!