Mango sticky rice always makes me think of one of my first (and best) flatmates, the lovely Hilaire. She had lived in Malaysia for a year growing up and this had influenced her cooking style and tastes. We were pretty well-fed students! She was also great at doing dishes (I wasn’t).
One day she got it into her head to make mango sticky rice. Christchurch was full of Chinese/Asian groceries so the glutinous rice was easy to find. Another fantastic find was a huge bag of frozen mango halves for dirt cheap. We ate so much mango, it went into smoothies, sorbet, lassi, and anything else we could think of.
Unfortunately the mango sticky rice was a disaster. We didn’t have a recipe (it was before the days of widely available recipes on the internet, although I did start my first food blog in 2002). What we didn’t know was that it is really difficult to cook rice in coconut milk. It just doesn’t seem to cook! Don’t ask me why. And it hasn’t stopped me trying again, either… My cheater’s way is to add a couple of spoonfuls of coconut milk powder to cooked rice.
Anyway, fast forward a decade later. London has something that wasn’t available in Christchurch back then and that’s Alphonso mangoes. My one, guilty, air-freighted pleasure. For a few short weeks every year they turn up in the Indian Spice Shop around the corner. With their highly perfumed aroma and melting texture they are irresistible. If mango is the king of fruits then the Alphonso is Emperor.
I happened to have a bag of Thai glutinous rice sitting around in a cupboard, so I thought mango sticky rice might be a good way to use up some of my box. I’m happy to say it went a lot better this time!
Since I don’t have room for a rice cooker in my kitchen I cook rice in the microwave. It’s my Mum’s trick; as a working mother she was one of the first in our neighbourhood to have a microwave and armed with the cookbook it came with she quickly became a very proficient microwave cook. The trick is to use a very large casserole dish (or similar) – it stops the water from boiling over. Use a cup of rice and just over a cup of water. Let it soak for as long you can bear (a quarter of an hour is ok), then microwave on high in three-minute increments until it’s cooked.
Meanwhile, empty a tin of coconut milk into a saucepan and gently heat through, adding a couple of spoonfuls of sugar and a pinch of salt. Pour most of this over the cooked rice, give it a quick stir and then cover, to let the rice absorb the milk. Chop up some mango, and then assemble: Put a mound of rice in a bowl, top with sliced mango, and then a splash of the reserved coconut milk.