Authentic Sticky Rice with Mango, Khao Niaow Ma Muang

Thai Sticky and Mango - Khao Niaow Ma Muang by The High Heel Gourmet 2 (1)

Mango season! It’s the time of the year I LOVE. At least now I can get my mango fix. Even though mangoes here are much less varied than in Thailand, it’s better than nothing at all.

I’ve gotten several requests about how to cook the sticky rice that is normally served with mangoes in Thailand, and also here. You know, this is a food combination that I totally disagreed with since my childhood all the way until now.

Don’t get me wrong. I love mangoes. And I love the sweet, sticky rice, called “Khao Niaow Moon” or “Khao Niao Mun” in Thai. But putting them together isn’t the way to eat them for me. I want to eat them separately, one at a time. This is my personal opinion and I’m not forcing it on anyone (like I do with my curry recipes!) I feel that the sweet, sticky rice makes the mango tangy for no good reason if I eat them together. If I eat the mango alone the mango is sweet like fruit, you know, not like sugar. Then the sticky rice, which has sugar content in it, and of course no matter how little sugar I put in the sticky rice, the sweetness of sugar still overpowers the natural sweetness of the mango and emphasizes the hint of tang in the mango that isn’t so obvious at first.

Okay, making sticky rice is another simple recipe, but of course I have a way to complicate the issue, as always. I like my food “PERFECT”, not just edible, so I cook all my food in a certain way. This is what the old Thais, who are punctilious about detail, love. There are not so many of them left these days, but luckily I learned from a few before they left the surface of this earth. This is what it called “Pra Neet” in Thai, or meticulous in English. This used to be a quality that we sought after in a cook, not reject because we must rush through our day so we can, errr, watch TV or connect with people on Facebook!

I’m meticulous about how to cook the sticky rice. So If you already know how to cook sticky rice the way you like, you can skip the next four paragraphs and go right to the ingredients.

How do I cook my sticky rice? I steam it, but soak my sticky rice at least 3 hours to over night before I do that. I’ve cooked sticky rice in a pot or rice cooker too but the result didn’t come out as beautiful as steaming, the traditional way.

First you wash the rice. You need to forget about rinsing out the vitamins and focus on getting rid of the dirt, bugs and other impurities that come with rice, so you REALLY wash it throughly.

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Then you just let it soak in enough water. (Take your first break, sipping some wine.)

Thai Sticky and Mango - Khao Niaow Ma Muang by The High Heel Gourmet 9

I use different tools to cook the rice depending on how much I have to cook. This is the traditional “Huad” or “Huat”. It’s just a bamboo basket that fits on top of a tall pot with the dimple near the top. This dimple helps hold the “Huad” quite well and the tall pot so I can fill it with a lot of water.

Thai Sticky and Mango - Khao Niaow Ma Muang by The High Heel Gourmet 1

If I cook for only 2-4 people, I use a sieve. Okay, this is how I do it. This is the tool, the pot with a steamer insert. I don’t like to use a pasta pot because the perforated insert pot for the pasta goes down way too low.

Thai Sticky and Mango - Khao Niaow Ma Muang by The High Heel Gourmet 2

You can use an Asian steamer if you have one. The whole steamer set or just the bamboo one that sits on top of the wok both work perfectly.

This is how I put my soaked sticky rice inside the steamer pot. I used the sieve inserted into the steamer part. You can also use 3 layers of cheese cloth instead of the sieve.

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I will cook the sticky rice for 20 minutes, turning it over after the first 10 minutes.

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I turn the rice over by flipping it in sieve by tossing, so the top part is now on the bottom and the bottom is now on top. This way all grain will be cooked evenly. I will also do this with the sticky rice in the Huad as well.

Thai Sticky and Mango - Khao Niaow Ma Muang by The High Heel Gourmet 11

Once you know how to cook a perfect sticky rice, we can proceed further to the second part, which is to “Moon” the sticky rice. Wait, hang on to your belt for now! It’s not what you think. “Moon” or “Mun” the sticky rice. “Moon” in Thai means a heap, a mound; to pile up, to heap; or to mix. So we just simply mix the coconut milk into the sticky rice.

Ingredients (for one or two servings)

Sticky rice (dry) 1/2 cup

Coconut milk 1/3-1/2 cup

Organic granulated sugar (you can smell the aroma as soon as you open the bag, yummm…) 2-3 tablespoons

Sea salt 1/8-1/4 teaspoon

(Optional) Pandan leaves the whole leave cut into pieces about 1″ long


1) Cook the sticky rice (see above method or any method of your own)

2) While the rice is cooking, mix the rest of the ingredients together and microwave them for 30 seconds to one minute, but don’t let it boil. This is just to melt the granulated sugar and bring the mixture to a slightly warmer temperature. Don’t let the temperature pass over 120 degrees. It will make the grains of sticky rice too swollen and mushy and not as pretty. Leave it at room temperature and wait for the rice to be cooked. You need to do this BEFORE the sticky rice is cooked.

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3) As SOON as the sticky rice is cooked, put it all in a bowl and pour the coconut milk mixture over it RIGHT AWAY.

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Stir until every grain of the sticky rice is coated with the coconut milk mixture, then cover and let the sticky rice grains absorb the coconut milk. Leave it for 20 minutes.

Don’t worry if it looks soupy at first. It should be.

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The coconut milk will be absorbed and dry afterward.

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I have to admit it that I didn’t always do it the way I’m telling you, which is the way that I had been taught. My grandma and my aunts always told me to pour coconut milk over the sticky rice but I sometimes did the opposite. I put my sticky rice right in the coconut milk bowl, so I didn’t have to find another bowl to put the cooked sticky rice into and then pour the coconut milk mixture over it, and avoided washing two bowls later.

Well, the old people had their reason, because they didn’t normally measure ingredients. They would just approximate everything. Thai cooking, or I dare say Asian cooking, isn’t about precision. They do everything based on their experience. My grandmother could be cooking a whole sack of sticky rice, 25 kg (55lb.), which was about half a bathtub full of finished product. She was only eyeballing all the measurements! So, she would pour the coconut milk over the cooked rice just to see how much she would need.

I perfected the recipe by measuring all the ingredients so I don’t have to teach you the eyeball method.

Thai Sticky and Mango - Khao Niaow Ma Muang by The High Heel Gourmet 1 (1)


1) Q: After 20 minutes the rice is still quite soupy. What do I do?

A: Use the sieve again. Pour the entire contents into the sieve, placing a bowl underneath it first, silly…so the coconut milk won’t be all over your counter top, and you can save the coconut milk. It’s delicious.

Look at the grains of the sticky rice. If they are all transparent, then it’s good to go, meaning that the sticky rice has absorbed all the coconut milk that it can. Don’t worry if there is excess coconut milk. You probably have sticky rice that doesn’t absorb as much coconut milk. Relax, you’ve done everything right. Leave it in the sieve until you drain off all the excess coconut milk. Then you can use it as normal.

But if the sticky rice grains are not transparent and there is excess coconut milk, you probably either have “too cold” coconut milk or you dropped the sticky rice in when it was too cold. You can try to warm it up by putting the whole bowl in the steamer again for another 5 minutes, or microwaving it for one to two minutes.

The real problem is the rice grains didn’t absorb enough coconut milk. Taste and see if you want to eat it this way. If not, then make another batch. If you are using a plug-in steamer, sometimes they are not hot enough. Adding more water into the steamer would probably help. That’s the reason why I didn’t use the electric steamer that I have—too small. You’ll find a bigger electric steamer seems to give the rice grain a more even temperature and thus steams the sticky rice more evenly.

If your coconut milk is too cold (lower than 85 degrees) the hot rice will lose its temperature very quickly and won’t fully absorb the coconut milk too.

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2) Q: I don’t have the sweet-arse time to soak the sticky rice for three frigging hours, excuse me!

A: Then you have to eat less perfect sticky rice, but it’s still edible.

These are four possible ways to do it, Impatient One!

A2.1) Soak the sticky rice in hot water for 5-10 minutes while you are waiting for the water to boil.

Thai Sticky and Mango - Khao Niaow Ma Muang by The High Heel Gourmet

A2.2) If you don’t even have that 5-10 minutes, then put the darn rice in the steamer anyway and keep pouring hot water over the rice every 5 minutes, and also stir the rice in the sieve after you pour the water over. Then steam for 25 minutes instead of 20.

A2.3) Cook the sticky rice in the microwave.

Rice : Water ratio should be 1:1;

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cover the container,

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put on high one or two minutes until the water reaches the boiling stage. As soon as it does, lower the power to half right away. Cook for another five minutes, take it out and stir, then put it back in at 50% power for another 5 minutes. See if it’s cooked. if it’s not fully cooked yet then repeat the microwave process with 50% power, 2 minutes in each round, checking after each round.

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A2.4) Cook the sticky rice in a pot with a 1:1 rice : water ratio. Heat the entire contents until it reaches a boil and lower the heat to the lowest possible level, and simmer for another 10-15 minutes until the rice is cooked. If the rice still not fully cooked but the water is all gone, then add about a tablespoon and cook for another 2 minutes. Check if it is cooked. If not then add more water but do it one tablespoon at a time.

Sticky rice will cook these various ways, but it won’t be as tender or look as perfect. But you get to eat them in a shorter time…Good luck being so busy!

3) Q: The rice grains have a hard center, most of them.

A: The rice is not cooked. You should have noticed this before you put the rice in the coconut milk mixture. But if you are too late, heat the whole thing up over the stove, wait until it boils, lower the heat, simmer for up to five minutes. Turn off the heat, let it cool down.

You need to know that doing the reverse cooking of the sticky rice would result in expanded rice grain sticky rice. Thai people would turn their nose up at your sticky rice…haha…We normally would use that batch to make other desserts, like sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves, filling the middle part with banana or taro and grilling or steaming the package. We don’t dare present that inferior sticky rice on its own.

4) Q: My sticky rice is not soupy but still wet.

A: No way to cure it now. Put less coconut milk next time with the same amount of rice. Check to make sure that your rice grains are transparent though, because if they’re not then read the Q#1 answer. Your rice probably didn’t absorb enough coconut milk.

5) Q: My sticky rice looks mushy like rice pudding rather than beautiful, well-defined grains like the one from the restaurant.

A: You either overcooked your rice, or your coconut milk mixture is too hot. Use less time to cook your rice. Make sure that the rice grains look well-defined and still in perfect shape. The best sticky rice should be tender all the way through in every grain, with the rice grains still maintaining their shape, not split open or swollen too much. If your coconut milk temperature is too hot, the perfect rice grains will continue cooking and might expand until mushy too. So be very careful next time.

I WARNED YOU THAT I’M PERNICKETY! So if you have any questions about your sticky rice, feel free to ask.

Now that you’ve got perfect sticky rice, peel and dice your mango and eat.

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If you want to know the authentic Thai version, there is a salty coconut milk sauce to pour on top, too.

Ingredients for coconut milk salty sauce

Coconut milk 1/4 cup

Salt 1/4 teaspoon

Rice flour 1/2 – 1 teaspoon

Roasted Mung bean shelled and halved 1 teaspoon


1) Mix all of the ingredients and heat over the stove top or in microwave. Stir often so the rice flour will not get lumpy. Cook until it bubbles, then turn off the heat.

2) Pour it over the sticky rice and sprinkle with the roasted Mung bean.

If you keep fooling around, I’m going to eat all the mangoes now!

Thai Sticky and Mango - Khao Niaow Ma Muang by The High Heel Gourmet 3 (1)

100 thoughts on “Authentic Sticky Rice with Mango, Khao Niaow Ma Muang

  1. I want to serve individual portions of this at a shower. Can I cook the rice the day before? Could I portion it our the day before and keep in the fridge till day of? Thanks!

    • Yes, you can. Even though it will not be the best but it would make your life easier. You should prepare the extra coconut milk mixture to drizzle over the rice when served to prevent it from getting too dry.

  2. Pingback: Pork satay | Hasa
  3. How to make the sticky rice shining and not too stick together.why my sticky rice not as white as the the rice sale by hawker?

    • I’m not sure about “not as white as the rice sale by hawker” can you explain? Or send me pictures to compare.

      You can’t make “sticky” rice not too sticky. Sticky rice has different molecular structure than regular rice. If you pay attention regular rice is translucent then gets opaque or solid white when cooked. The sticky rice is white and opaque when raw but turned translucent when cooked. That’s due to the different in molecule structure of the rice.

      If you don’t like sticky rice sticky, you can buy Japanese or Korean rice. Those short grain especially the new crop would have some sticky character but not too sticky (because it is NOT sticky rice).

      To make sticky rice shiny, you can’t cook with microwave, you have to steam and steam until the whole grains cooked and stop. Do not over cook or the grain would not be so shiny.

  4. Re: coconut milk salty sauce, isn’t there supposed to be sugar in this sauce? it seems awfully odd to have a sauce that’s creamy/salty. I followed your recipe precisely and the rice tasted ‘almost sweet’. Pretty translucent individual grains and interesting flavor, but it almost tasted savory to me, not sweet.

    • You can add more sugar to the coconut milk if you like it sweeter. As I explain earlier, if i make the rice sweeter, it brings out the sourness in the mango but a lot of places make the rice sweeter than mine.

      The salty coconut milk topping will contain no sugar in it. Thai cooking is matter or balancing the taste of everything. If the rice sweet, mango also sweet, there is no balance so they make the coconut topping salty to off set all sweet sweet. If you eat them all together then the blended taste is perfect.

      You probably not use to the theory. Most western dessert usually sweet without a break. I can’t make cookie or cake without salt. But it’s just me. You can make it however you like. You are the one eating it. My recipe is just a guide line of the authentic Thai cooking but that might not cater to every one palette.

  5. Thank you for the suggestion and instructions. We have a tree in our yard and this year it is giving off more mangoes than we know what to do with. I know a good problem to have!

  6. Boy, and I thought Italians were obsessive about rice–clearly they have nothing on the Thais. This is fascinating post. We’re getting some good mangoes now, so if I can get the rice we’re good to go. Sounds great! Ken

    • Ken, the Italian are sure not at all less obsess. We just approach them differently. I love your blog. The pictures are so beautiful. I wish I don’t have to cook and take pictures in so many occasion. My husband (also a Rhode Islander, born in Warwick, grew up in Coventry, and moved to CA over thirty years but visited the families there every few months) took pictures for me when I’m working with my wok because I can’t do both. The heat is too much to left the wok and grab the camera.

      BTW have you ever post a recipe for veal saltimbocca? I tried so many time but didn’t like the result yet. I like the one with tomatoes.

      • Thanks you for being so generous about the photos. It’s been a learning process and when I look back at my posts from a year ago, I wince… Oh well, everyone has a learning curve. I can’t imagine trying to cook AND take the pictures, although I have a number of friends who do it. I think there’s a reason why so many blogs have only a few photos. It’s just too hard to do more. On the other hand, I’m beginning to think a fewer better photos might be a preferable alternative rather than trying to document every step.

        As for veal saltimbocca, we haven’t published a recipe. I supposed we could do it, but the problem is we know too much about farming practices in this country, especially large scale farming, and we’re not big fans of how animals are treated on factory farms. We do eat meat from small, independent farms, but as a result we never see veal. I understand that the the agricultural program at the University of Massachusetts (I hope I have this right) is developing a program of “alternative veal” than can be used by small farmers. Essentially it’s a way of raising calves for veal that doesn’t involve confining them to crates. The goal behind the project is to provide a more humane way of producing veal and also add to the income of independent farmers. If I encounter it in the future I will undoubtedly write about it in a post, probably with an accompanying saltimbocca recipe. Thanks for all the likes. I’m just learning my way around the wok via Fuschia Dunlop. Ken

      • Ken, so where is the “organic veal” come from? (OMG) I actually don’t care much for the veal but more about saltimbocca sauce. I can do it with chicken, beef, pork or eggplants. I usually get my meat from Wholefoods or a farmer that I know in CA.

        I agree with you about fewer photos but the good one. I don’t have problem about taking photos (I spent four years in college learning them plus sometime after at a studio I worked for) but doing both take extra conscious and extra hands cleaning! I had just dropped my camera (ouch!) because I tried to do both.

    • Thai sticky rice, long grain. There is a Thai name called “Kheaw Ngoo” meaning snake fang. You can use any sticky rice. You just have to know the amount of water used and how to cook sticky rice perfectly and just put the cooked sticky rice in the coconut milk mixture. I suggest using more coconut milk because you don’t know how much the rice would absorb. If it is too much then you can drain it.

  7. Yaaay! One of my absolute favourite puds of all time! I like the element of surprise with this desert. Never expected it to taste so good. When I did a cookery course in bangkok, my teacher used brown rice instead ..which worked very well too. However, she did warn me that no Thai person approves of using brown rice. ever!

    • You mean brown sticky rice or just regular brown rice.

      I never seen brown sticky rice ever and don’t know if it is going to be good but cooking just regular brown rice is different though. It’s not sweet like this and it cooked completely different because we will replace the water with coconut milk and we eat it with papaya salad. Also white jasmine rice can be used too.

      • No I mean brown sticky rice! I know…my teacher said it’s not the Thai way at all…but it’s what she liked to use, for all the rice recipes including this one . ( I must add she was Thai herself, but didn’t have many Thai fans ).

      • Wow…she must have some connection with farmers to get that. I never seen it. Even the north eastern people (my nanny) won’t eat that but you got me curious how it tastes like now.

  8. Hmm! Rice for dessert. Quite tasty I imagine. In Puerto Rico, we eat “arroz con dulce” (sweet rice) made with coconut milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and raisins.

    • I had that! It was a surprise for me too because I didn’t expect the cinnamon…lol I am one of the rare breed that hate cinnamon. It’s one culinary draw back for me. If the cinnamon on its own not mixing with any other spice, I normally don’t touch. (That’s how my husband keep me away from his oatmeal!) I don’t make cinnamon bun but I make pistachio bun instead…haha…So in Puerto Rico, I asked if I can have it without cinnamon and they’re so nice instead of slap me, they gave me a bowl without cinnamon but it has raisins and nuts…yummy!

  9. Thanks you, so delicious, such clear instructions. I’ve eaten mango and sticky rice hundreds of times but never been brave enough to attempt it myself. Might try it now!

    • I’m so happy, you are successful with the Tom Yum. Let me know how is this one go.

      BTW: I’m planning a trip down to SD with a bunch of girl friends to celebrate my b-day in early June. We want to take a train (never done that from LA to SD) and go to Extraodinary desserts but still debating on food choice. Do you have any place to recommend? Light meal so we can eat a lot of desserts. 🙂

      • It is good to hear that your priorities are in the right place – Extraordinary Desserts is amazing! And the train ride is beautiful – what a great way to celebrate!
        There is a great cocktail bar/bistro called Starlite that has an excellent meat/cheese board, which is a pretty tasty/light option before dessert. Otherwise, I’d recommend catching a fish taco at Blue Water Seafood (both places are just down the hill from Ex. Desserts)… it might just take a bit of self-control to save room for dessert! Let me know how it goes!!! 🙂

      • Alright…I will THANKS!

        We were thinking at first to try Hodad’s burger because someone told me that it’s the BEST burger, even better than Umami but seafoods. I’m all for it.

      • Hodad’s is supposed to be super good – I’ve not had a chance to try it yet, although I should – I’ve been craving a burger lately! Looking forward to hearing about it!

      • Try it…try it and blog about it…I’m curious. Have you ever had Umami burger? I love the place. My friend’s son said Hodad’s is even better than Umami! I wish I can go there and try it with you now.

      • Photograph from the side is a prettier looking angle. I can’t wait to hear (or read) about your verdict. Are you on Facebook? You can friend my personal account (so I can closely follow you haha!)

  10. I love this. Beautiful mango and wonderful rice. We only get awful hard mango here in Ireland. My brother in Tanzania has them growing all around him. Life is not fair.

    • Do you have any Philippine mango? Well someone from Thailand like me was spoiled with abundance and variety of mangoes in Thailand too but at least we can get some yellow mangoes here. How about Calypso mango from Australia? They’re soft and sweet (eaten in Australia) but I don’t know the export quality. I have to go visit Ireland sometime.

  11. Beautiful, and as always educational! Alas I am unable, yet, to post more recipes for the produce coming straight from my garden. I am still waiting spinach, beets, green peas and radish… all of which should be here by now. 😦

    As always, I look forward to your next artful offering!

  12. I ate it once when I was in Hat-Yai. If my memory serves me well, they also put mango flavored ice cream on top of the rice. I loved it!:D

    • They usually put coconut ice cream on top and put roasted peanuts too. I like that as well. Hat-Yai is only half an hour from Maung, Songkhla where my parents came from…They have great fried chickens there!

      • Oh, they have lots of delicious food there. The temples are also very beautiful. I cannot wait to revisit it! 😀

    • NOOOOO…I can’t eat it with the big red Mexican mango too. In the US, I would eat it with Philippines mangoes (or actually eat the mangoes and then eat the sticky rice but NOT with the red mango ever) Red mango is good in salsa, or cake but it taste so strength with sticky rice. You know the Mexican now growing the Philippines mangoes…so confusing isn’t it but they call it “yellow mango”!

  13. Love the details of the description, as well as your patience in making this dessert and to write it all out for us. I think that is why I never try to cook Indonesian dessert involving sticky rice and coconut milk. I don’t know if I have the patience to do all that. 🙂

      • But didn’t he enjoy the “perfect” things you make for him? (Errr mine didn’t even pay attention…hahaha…when I pointed them out, it normally was the empty plate. Don’t get me wrong, the “not so perfect” would be gone the same way too!)

      • He did, and normally I will judge by the plate too, if it is empty, then he likes.. of course that depends on how hungry he was 🙂

  14. OMG, this looks so good! And I was just looking up recipes for mango/rice dishes! Can’t wait to try this one! My daughter is allergic to coconut milk (as well as dairy milk). 😦 Any recommendations for substitutions? Would almond milk work?

    • I never try that but I tried soy milk. Its smell like tofu though! I think almond milk, rice milk, soy milk should work. The rice will not be as transparent because the fat content it those milk are lower than coconut milk but the sticky rice came out soft. I would vote for almond milk more than the rest…try it and let me know.

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