Coconut-Flavored Sticky Rice with Mangoes
Kao Niow Ma-muang (or Khao Niow Mamuang)*
A Recipe of Kasma Loha-unchit
Recipe Copyright © 1995 Kasma Loha-unchit.
In Kasma's classes, her Coconut-Flavored Sticky Rice with Mangoes and Black Sticky Rice desserts are among the students' favorite dishes.
(Click images to see larger version.)
- 2 cups long-grain white sticky rice, sweet rice or glutinous rice
- 2 cups creamy coconut milk (or one 14-oz. can)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- About 1 tsp. salt
- Optional flavoring: 2-3 fresh or frozen pandanus leaves (bai dteuy) or 4-5 drops jasmine (mali) essence
- 1-2 ripe mangoes, peeled and sliced
Rinse the rice once or twice, cover with water 2-3 inches above the rice line and allow to soak at least 4 hours, or overnight. The grains will absorb much of the water and grow in size. They will also soften; pressing them between your fingers will easily break them into pieces.
When ready to cook, drain the rice and steam dry (without any water) in a shallow heat-proof dish, placed on a steamer rack over a pot with 2 or more inches of water on the bottom. If you are making a large quantity, use the special sticky rice steaming basket so that the rice grains cook more evenly. When making a large batch, it also helps to turn the rice and sprinkle a little water over the top once or twice during the cooking time.
When the rice is about 20 minutes into its steaming, prepare the coconut sauce by heating the coconut milk, sugar and salt together in a saucepan. Warm the milk until the mixture is well blended and smooth. If you wish a bai dteuy (pandanus leaf) flavor, add a few fresh or frozen bai dteuy leaves and simmer with the sauce for about 10 minutes. Then, remove the leaves, and after they have cooled enough to handle, use your hand to squeeze out all the fragrant juice until the leaves are dry. Add the pressed juice to the sauce. If fresh or frozen leaves are not available, use about 1/4 tsp. of the green bai dteuy essence. Or, if you wish a more delicate floral scent, use a few drops of mali (jasmine) essence instead. Keep the sauce warm.
When the rice is done and while it is still hot out of the steamer, pour half the coconut sauce over the rice. Stir well with a spoon to make sure all the grains are well coated. The rice should be wet but not swimming in sauce. Add more of the sauce if needed, reserving the remainder for dribbling over the top before serving. Let stand for 15-20 minutes to allow the rice grains to absorb the flavorings.
When ready to serve, dish the rice onto individual serving plates, spoon some of the reserved coconut sauce over each portion and arrange sliced mangoes over the top. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Notes and Pointers
The coconut sauce should have a pronounced saltiness behind the sweetness. The saltiness will help bring forth the rich flavors of coconut milk and the delicate taste of sticky rice. Also, the salty-sweetness of the flavored rice enhances rather than distracts from the fruity sweetness of mangoes.
When mangoes and durians are not in season, coconut-flavored sticky rice is served with a choice of toppings, ranging from a very sweet coconut-egg custard called Sangkaya to a salty-sweet, minced dried shrimp mixture. The kanom (snack/dessert) vendor in the market usually has several choices,something to satisfy every mood and palate.
White sticky rice (kao niow) is usually labelled "glutinous rice" or "sweet rice." The following brands are all good: Golden Phoenix, Butterfly, and Sanpatong. (Kasma's Favorite Thai Brands.)
This dish is particularly popular during Thai New Year.
You might enjoy learning how to Cook Thai food from Kasma in a Thai cooking class.
*Because the Thai language has its own script, there are different ways of transliterating Thai into English. The more phonetic version is Kao Niow Ma-muang; the more usual spelling is Khao Niow Mamuang. See A Note on Thai Pronunciation and Spelling.