Mango and sticky rice is one of the must-try dishes when you visit Thailand. Known in Thai as khao niao mamuang, this delicious treat can be found at street stalls and restaurants across the country.
Khao niao mamuang
Mango and sticky rice rose to international prominence in April 2022 thanks to Thai rapper, Danupha ‘Milli’ Khanatheerakul. The 19-year-old singer consumed a bowl of khao niao mamuang on stage at the Coachella Music and Arts Festival in California. Her performance went viral on Thai social media leading to an upsurge in demand for the humble dish and a huge spike in Google Search for the term ‘mango sticky rice’. Even the Thai government got in on the act by praising the ‘soft power’ of Thai celebrities like Milli and suggesting the dish could be put forward for UNESCO heritage listing.
The sweet treat can be found in various countries in South-East Asia, but is particularly associated with Thailand and Laos. Although the precise origin of the dish isn’t clear, historians who have traced back traditional Thai food recipes suggest mango and sticky rice may date back to fourteenth-century Siam.
Mango and sticky rice recipe
If you’d like to try your hand at making mango and sticky rice, try this recipe from BBC Good Food.
Preparation time: 40-50 minutes, plus overnight soaking
- 300g sticky rice (glutinous rice sometimes sold as sushi rice)
- 250ml coconut milk
- 3 tbsp granulated sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2-3 ripe mangoes
- 2-4 tbsp coconut cream (you can freeze the rest)
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds or crispy yellow mung beans
- banana leaves (if you can find them) for serving
- Soak the sticky rice in cold water for at least 3 hours, or overnight. Drain and rinse thoroughly. Line a steamer with double thickness muslin or a J-cloth (single thickness) and place the rice on top. Bring the water in the steamer to the boil and steam the rice over moderate heat for 30 minutes, turning halfway. Put in a bowl and set aside.
- Combine the coconut milk and sugar in a small pan and heat gently, stirring all the time, until the sugar has dissolved. Do not boil. Stir in the salt and pour over the cooked rice, stirring gently; set aside to cool.
- Peel the mangoes and cut off the two outer cheeks of each fruit, as close to the stones as possible. Discard the stones. Slice each piece of fruit lengthways into thin slices.
- Put a mound of rice on a dish lined with a leaf and nestle the mango next to it. Pour the coconut cream over and sprinkle with sesame seeds/yellow mung beans.
A number of different varieties of mango are grown in Thailand and the fruit can be enjoyed in one form or another during most of the year. Although you can find mango and sticky rice almost year round, it is the peak of the mango season from April to June when khao niao mamuang comes into its own. This is when the yellow mango varieties like nam dok mai and ok-rong are at their sweetest and juiciest.
Look out too for variations to the classic mango sticky rice. At some restaurants black rice is used instead of white rice and gives the sticky rice a purple colour.
Where to try mango and sticky rice in Thailand
Khao niao mamuang is a versatile dish that can be eaten for breakfast, after a meal or as a standalone treat at any time of the day. You can find mango and sticky rice at locations across Thailand and if you asked 100 different people for their favourite place to eat it you may well get 100 different answers. To help you on your way, here are some suggestions from our Thailand-based, mango-loving editor.
Near Hilton Hotel (where Selakam Alley meets Naresdamri Road)
Have you tried mango and sticky rice in Thailand? Connect with us on social media and let us know your favourite place to eat this delicious dish.
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