Three-coloured sticky rice with sweet mango

Three-coloured sticky rice with sweet mango

Khao niew mamuang

Street Food Asia
Alan Benson

On the bucket list of just about every tourist to Thailand is a visit to a floating market. If you don’t want to get up too early, there’s Talin Chan, just 12 kilometres out of town – it’s a bit lacking in authentic charm but there’s some great food here, such as this dish, which I really hope you try. Now, I know mango with sticky rice is a well-known Thai snack but at Talin Chan there’s a lady who makes it with coloured rice. So when you order hers, you get a pile each of green sticky rice (tinted with pandan leaf), purple sticky rice (coloured using magenta leaves, which can be found at good Asian grocers) and plain rice, garnished with fried mung beans. The mangoes are fat and juicy and the way she prepares them, to order, is pretty impressive. She passes you the dish in a basket on a long bamboo stick from her boat. You take your dish then put money in the basket to pay her. It’s really great fun.


Quantity Ingredient
1 bunch magenta leaves, coarsely chopped
1 bunch pandan leaves (see glossary), roughly chopped
500g sticky rice
115g sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 ripe sweet mangoes, peeled and sliced into 3 cm widths

Sweet coconut milk dressing

Quantity Ingredient
500ml coconut milk
125ml liquid palm sugar (see glossary) or shaved palm sugar (jaggery)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Crispy mung beans

Quantity Ingredient
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
90g dried mung beans, soaked in water for 15 minutes, then drained and patted dry


  1. In a small saucepan, combine 500 ml water with the magenta leaves. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium–low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let it steep for 30 minutes. Drain the purple water into a bowl and discard the leaves.
  2. Meanwhile, place the pandan leaves in a blender with 375 ml water and blend for 2 minutes until a green liquid forms. Transfer to a mixing bowl then, with your hands, squeeze the pandan pulp extracting all the green liquid. Discard the pulp. Rinse the sticky rice with cold water and drain.
  3. Divide the rice into thirds and add to separate deep mixing bowls. Submerge one third of the rice with the extracted purple water, another third with the extracted green water and the final third with regular water. Add a pinch of salt to each bowl and soak the rice at room temperature for at least 6 hours, or overnight. The sticky rice will expand slightly, so check it after 2 hours to make sure it is still fully submerged, topping up the waters as needed.
  4. Separately drain the three bowls of sticky rice well, but DO NOT rinse.
  5. Add the purple rice to a Thai rice bamboo steamer basket with 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon vegetable oil. Mix, then make a small well in the middle to help the hot steam circulate. Bring a pot of water to a boil, place the steamer basket on top, cover and steam for 18–20 minutes, or until soft. Once cooked, remove from the heat, fluff up the rice, then transfer to a bowl. Cover and set aside. Repeat with first the green and then the plain white rice.
  6. To make the dressing, add the coconut milk to a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat and warm until hot but not boiling. Add the palm sugar and salt and stir to dissolve completely. Set aside.
  7. For the crispy mung beans, heat the oil in a wok to a medium heat. Carefully add the mung beans and fry for 5 minutes, or until crisp. Remove from the oil, drain and leave to cool, then transfer to a bowl and season with salt. Set aside.
  8. To serve, divide the sticky rices in scoopfuls between four serving plates. Arrange the sliced mangoes alongside the rice then pour 2 tablespoons of the sweet coconut milk dressing over each serving. Garnish with the crispy mung beans.
South-East Asian
Street Food
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