In Thailand, food is central to family, bringing together friends and family over shared dishes. “Cooking is a way to people’s hearts, it’s a way to share culture,” explains Nartchanok Jansri McHaffie. Nartchanok grew up in Samut Prakarn, just out of Bangkok in Thailand, and inherited a love for cooking from her mother. Since moving to Australia in 2012, her food has won over the hearts of many. Between running a Thai vegetarian pop-up kitchen at the Abbotsford Convent and welcoming friends into her home, Nartchanok’s recipes bring together flavours that speak true to her culture and heritage.
“Cooking is a way to people’s hearts, it’s a way to share culture.”
Sticky rice and mango is a Thai favourite made in both the streets and homes of most locals. With Thailand being the world’s second largest exporter of rice, this grain is integral to the country’s agriculture, economy and culture. Glutinous rice (sticky rice) specifically, is mostly grown in Southeast Asia and particularly common in North Thailand, and unlike the name suggests, it actually contains no gluten. Paired with Thailand’s freshest of fruits, the mango, this dish makes for the perfect summer dessert. As we arrive into Thailand’s mango season (March–May), Nartchanok shares her version of this famed Thai sweet.
Sticky rice with mango served on a Sharon Alpren bowl courtesy of Craft Victoria. Photo by Beth Wilkinson for Lindsay.
1½ cup glutinous white rice
½ cup glutinous black rice
400ml coconut milk
1 tsp salt
3 ripe mangoes
Banana leaf for serving (optional)
Coconut sauce (optional)
100ml coconut milk
¾ tsp salt
½ tsp rice flour
Serves: 6 / Skill level: Easy / Vegan + Gluten Free
1. Combine white and black rice in a bowl. Rinse the rice before gently massaging it between your palms.
2. Soak the rice in a bowl of water overnight (or for at least 6 hours). Drain the rice and reserve the purple liquid.
3. To steam the rice, boil approximately 2 cups of water and sit the rice in a bamboo steamer (available from a Thai grocer). If you don’t have a bamboo steamer, a colander will also work.
4. Place a lid over the rice and steam it for 20—30 minutes stirring every 5—10 minutes to make sure the rice is cooking and sticking evenly.
5. Gradually sprinkle the reserved liquid over the rice to help keep it moist.
6. In a separate saucepan, warm the coconut milk on low heat. Add the salt and sugar and continue to heat until the sugar dissolves.
7. Once the rice is cooked, scoop it into the coconut milk mixture. Gently stir to combine and allow the rice to absorb the coconut milk.
8. Cover the rice with cling wrap and refrigerate to allow the rice to continue to absorb the coconut.
9. Serve the rice at room temperature with freshly sliced mango.
10. If you want extra coconut flavour, you can top with additional coconut sauce. Place all ingredients (coconut sauce) in a saucepan and stir over low heat.