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  • Writer's pictureAround the World in Vegan Eats

OUR FIRST TASTE OF MANGO STICKY RICE IN CHIANG MAI, THAILAND - AND IT WAS VEGAN!

Updated: Mar 31, 2023


Welcome to Thailand! We spent a few weeks in the country in September - October 2022 - partly for the culture and experiences, and partly for the FOOD! We're really excited to share our experiences eating vegan in Thailand with you, as we recount our food stories from Chiang Mai and Bangkok. In this first blog we find and share with you one of Thailand's finest (and accidentally vegan!) desserts: mango sticky rice. Spoiler Alert: this is now one of my favourite desserts I've eaten while we've been travelling for Around the World in Vegan Eats. I genuinely can't express enough how much I recommend trying mango sticky rice if you're in Thailand! But for now, read on to experience it along with us...


What is mango sticky rice, and how did it become a national dish in Thailand?

Mango sticky rice is - well, exactly as it sounds. Mango, with some sticky rice. And it is delicious. It is a dessert found in many places in Southeast Asia, but is particularly associated with northern Thailand - so we thought what better place to try it than Chiang Mai? The dish has an ancient history here, with the recipe dating back somewhere between 400 and 700 years. Clearly the Thai people were onto a winner here, as people regularly travel to Thailand specifically to try this dessert recipe made authentically in the place where it originated.


The beautiful thing about mango sticky rice is that no matter where you try it, the recipe and presentation should be very similar (the other beautiful thing about it, of course, is that it is accidentally vegan!) A bed of sweetened glutinous sticky rice, that has been recently steamed, should be drizzled with warm coconut milk. Once the coconut milk has soaked in, freshly sliced mango is added, before the dish is sprinkled with optional crispy yellow mung beans. Though mango sticky rice is most popular during peak mango season (March to June), it can be found at stalls all year round - the mangos might just not be quite as sweet and juicy.

The front of a restaurant with wooden signage and counter and the words 'greendot: eat green, feel good' illuminated in green and white
The Mango Sticky Rice stall we visited

Where did we try mango sticky rice in Chiang Mai?

Mango sticky rice can be found at many stalls, markets, and restaurants throughout the city: we decided for the real experience we should head to a dedicated mango sticky rice stall, to taste it in just the way that the dish was intended to be eaten.


We headed to Chang Phuak Gate Night Market, near the northern gate of the city for two reasons - it was close to our accommodation, and it was next door to our favourite 7-Eleven. If you're visiting Chaing Mai for a few days, you'll know this as the street where you catch a songthaew up to Doi Suthep. It didn't take long for us to find exactly what we were looking for: a mango sticky rice stall called เมืองนนท์ ข้าวเหนียวมะม่วง (which Google translates as Muang Non Mango Sticky Rice). You can see a visual of the particular stall we visited in the photo on the left.


A basket of fresh mangoes
Seriously, check out the size of these mangoes!

Our mango sticky rice was prepared fresh as we waited, which was a real treat for us - it made us glad that we'd gone for the stall experience, since we'd never have seen the dish prepared if we'd tasted it in a restaurant! The sticky rice was pre-prepared in a takeaway container, on top of a banana leaf; the stallholder poured over plenty of hot coconut milk and then let it sink in while she peeled and sliced our mangoes. It's worth saying how different mangoes look (and taste!) in Thailand to the small green things we get in the UK. I initially thought they were big potatoes! Once the mangoes were carefully presented next to the rice, and the mung beans were sprinkled on top, we took a seat at the small table next to the stall to tuck in. Read on to hear exactly how we found the mango sticky rice, and watch our video below to see it in real time!



So, how was our first experience of mango sticky rice?

I mean, I've already told you how much I loved mango sticky rice - though honestly, Mike wasn't such a big fan. I love all of the flavours that go into it: mango, coconut, rice... it's so sweet and so indulgent. Think rice pudding but much denser and drier, topped with some of the freshest and juiciest fruit you've ever tried...

Chunks of mango and sticky white rice, drizzled with coconut milk and sprinkled with mung beans
I cannot emphasise enough how sweet, sticky, and delicious this was

The warmth of the hot coconut milk having soaked into the glutinous sticky rice made for a warming dish: the rice tasted sweet and coconutty, which is a contrast to the combination of sweetness with a slight zing in the mango. The juiciness of the mango alongside the dense, stickiness of the rice, with the crunchy mung beans on top made for a sensation of different textures - and serving it on the traditional banana leaf was a nice touch that made sure that it was really photogenic too. This was a dish that I couldn't get enough of - but at the same time it was so filling that our plans for other food that evening went completely out of the window!


Just a word of warning - your hands might get very sticky!


How much did this mango sticky rice cost - and was it worth it?

Obviously our mango sticky rice, bought from a street stall, was cheaper than if we'd bought it from a restaurant - but also because this stall is located in a night market in a very touristy area, it will have been more expensive than eating at a stall more intended for locals. So these are things to bear in mind if you head out in pursuit of mango sticky rice yourself.

A box with sticky rice, mangoes, mung beans and coconut milk
You get so much for your money here!

We paid ฿50 per portion of mango sticky rice. This is approximately £1.24, €1.40 or $1.51 - we thought this was very reasonable, considering it was in a tourist market, we got to watch the dish being prepared (and it was prepared beautifully!) and we could sit alongside the stall to eat it too.


The stall that we visited is located at QXWP+89W, Tambon Si Phum, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand. Head to the 7-Eleven near the North Gate (where the Doi Suthep songthaews are in the daytime) and walk through the night market stalls until you find it. The stall is open between 5pm and 10pm every evening.


Have you tried mango sticky rice in Thailand? Or elsewhere in the world! Where did you go and what did you think of it? Let us know in the comments below.


Recommendations

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The centre of Vienna with tall, historic buildings all around
Chiang Mai has some absolutely incredible temples

Where should I stay?

If you want a comfy sleep, the opportunity to make friends and get involved in fun activities, and be located super close to the night market, then The Islander hostel is definitely somewhere you should check out!


For a more peaceful hotel experience, with a pool and a good location, Manee might be exactly what you're looking for!


Tours & Experiences

Chiang Mai is well known for its beautiful temples: top of our list was Doi Suthep. If you don't want to hedge your bets on catching a songthaew, this Chiang Mai City Tour includes a visit to Doi Suthep and some excellent viewpoints. Or if that's not quite for you, why not try one of the top-rated Viator tours below?

Note: for ethical reasons we recommend taking great care if choosing an activity that involves elephants (as this is an automatic widget, these may appear below). For advice on choosing an ethical elephant sanctuary visit, please see our Ethical Elephant Sanctuary Visit blog.




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