What could be better than mango sticky rice? The answer is mango sticky rice waffles, a unique take on the popular Bruneian dessert. Chewy glutinous rice is mixed with sweetened coconut milk then compressed and lightly browned in a waffle iron, before being topped with a sweet coconut milk sauce and served with fresh slices of mango.
Country Number 25: Brunei
If it weren’t for a chance encounter with a Bruneian in a hotel in Japan some years ago, I may still not have know that Brunei was a country. Situated on the North coast of Borneo in Southeast Asia, the Nation of Brunei covers a mere 5,765 km² in land and a population of under half a million.
Over the years, I’ve learnt more and more about the Nation of Brunei. It is a fascinating country to say the least. Brunei is a very wealthy nation due to its huge oil industry. With an average income of $79,000, Brunei has one of the highest GDP per capita in the world. The government is an absolute monarchy under the Sultan, who was the richest person in the world in 1997, and owns a $9 billion car collection which includes 500 Rolls-Royces (lol same). One of the most controversial aspects of Brunei is its strict incorporation of sharia law. This has led to the implementation of some draconian laws, such as the introduction of the death penalty for sexual relations between men in 2019.
That being said, there are some positives to note about Brunei. It was the first country to ban shark finning nationwide, and is also one of the few places on Borneo Island to retain most of its forests. Anyway, onto the food…
History of Bruneian Cuisine
Bruneian cuisine has been heavily shaped by its neighbouring countries, namely Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. Most of the food in Brunei is actually imported from other countries. Despite Brunei being made up of forests and having very fertile soil, only 2% of the land is used for agriculture. This is due to the oil fields underneath the ground. Of course, this is the very source of Brunei’s insane wealth.
Like its neighbours, the food in Brunei is full of spice. Rice and noodles are staples of the diet and are served with most meals. Sticky rice is particularly featured throughout Brunei’s most traditional dishes. Fruit is abundant in Brunei and is an important part of the cuisine. Alongside common tropical fruit such as watermelon, pineapple, mango, Brunei also offers some unique endemic produce. This includes durian, tarap, rambutan, kembayau, bambangan, langsat and kundong.
Most traditional main dishes in Bruneian cuisine tend to contain fish or meat. The lack of agricultural land and geographical location on an island makes fish the common form of protein. Being a predominantly Islamic nation, all meat that is served is halal, and pork is very uncommon. Alcohol is also completely banned. Whilst vegetarian dishes are harder to find, vegetarian-friendly snacks and desserts are abundant in Brunei.
Popular Bruneian Vegetarian Dishes
- Ambuyat– The national dish of Brunei. Made from the interior trunk of the sago palm tree, this sticky, starchy substance is normally swallowed and not chewed. It is normally served with a spicy, sour dip called cacah.
- Roti– As well as regular roti, Brunei also serves up roti murtabak, which comes with sweet or savory fillings, and roti canai, which comes in buttery crispy layers and is generally served with curry.
- Kelupis– A favourite snack of the country consisting of rice cakes wrapped in Nyirik leaf. They are commonly eaten with peanut or curry dip.
- Selurut- Another type of steamed rice cake served in a cone-shape coconut leaf. Selurut is eaten more as a dessert, and is made of a floury brew of rice and sago that is soaked in salted water and coconut milk.
- Penyaram- Shaped like a UFO, these little morsels are made of a rice flour and coconut milk dough that is deep-fried.
- Mango Sticky Rice- This dessert is famous across South East Asian but is a favourite in Brunei.
Vegetarian rating of Bruneian Cuisine:
Making Mango Sticky Rice Waffles
We both LOVE mango sticky rice. It is easily one of our favourite Asian desserts of all-time. It’s such a simple dish of delicately balanced flavours. The sweet and salty notes of the sticky rice works so perfectly when cut through with the refreshing taste of mango.
We’ve always thought of exclusively as a Thai dish, however, when doing our recipe research, we were delighted to learn that mango sticky rice is also one of Brunei’s most popular sweet foods. This makes sense, given the evident love of sticky rice in the country, as well as the evident Thai influence on the cuisine. A while back, we found this recipe for mango sticky rice waffles and had been dying to try it. This gave us the perfect excuse to do so. If you’ve been following us on our journey so far, you might be familiar with our passionate love of waffles. After making the most delicious Belgian Liége Waffles the other day, we’ve been very keen to continue our waffle endeavours.
If you don’t have a waffle iron, you can still follow this recipe to make mango sticky rice. Just skip the part where you put the sticky rice in the waffle iron and serve as-is. However, if you do have one of these wonderful contraptions, we urge you to use it. The result is all the creamy goodness of normal coconut-infused sticky rice with the added fun of a slightly crispy outer shell. Pair this with the sweet coconut milk drizzling sauce and fresh slices of mango and you’ve got yourself one fabulous dessert (or breakfast).
The mango dilemma
There was one key element that held our mango sticky rice waffles back from their full potential. Unfortunately, New Zealand does not possess the tropical climate of South East Asia or northern Australia. That means the mango game here is weak to say the least. The mangoes you get here are mostly imported from South America and tend to be sour and lacking in flavour. We still thoroughly enjoyed our mango sticky rice waffles, but we knew how much better they would be if we had better mangoes. So, if you are blessed to live in a place with access to fresh, ripe, juicy, delicious mangoes, you are in for a REAL treat.
How to make mango sticky rice waffles
This recipe may seem a little intimidating, but its actually really simple to prepare. As long as you make sure you soak the sticky rice the night before, the rest will come together fairly quickly as you can prepare multiple elements at once.
- Soak sticky rice in water overnight or for at least 4 hours.
- Steam sticky rice for 20 minutes. Warm coconut milk in pan at the same time. Mix cooked sticky rice and coconut milk together and put in fridge to chill whilst making sauce.
- Make coconut cream sauce by warming ingredients in pan for 5 minutes then take off heat.
- Press a portion of sticky rice mixture in pre-heated waffle iron and cook for a few minutes until turning golden.
- Serve with coconut cream sauce and slices of mango.
Ingredient notes for mango sticky rice waffles
- Sticky rice- Getting the right type of rice for this recipe is essential. Sticky rice is often labelled as “sweet” or “glutinous” rice, and you can generally find it in Asian grocery stores. It needs to be soaked for at least four hours and then steamed, not boiled. If you don’t use proper sticky rice, your waffles aren’t going to hold together.
- Mangos– The riper and fresher the mangos you buy, the better this dish will be (see rant above). We would not recommend frozen mango or tinned mango for this recipe. However, if you can’t get hold of fresh mangos, these options will do at a stretch.
- Coconut milk– For this recipe, it’s important to get a high-quality, full-fat coconut milk. You want to get a distinct layer of coconut cream forming on top when you refrigerate the can of coconut milk. You won’t get this if you use light coconut milk as it will be too watered down.
Serving suggestions for the waffles
There is a reason why mango sticky rice is so popular. The beauty is in the simplicity of the dessert. Therefore, we don’t believe the dish needs many additions. The only thing we added when serving were some toasted coconut flakes to really accentuate the notes of coconut and give a little extra texture. These are completely optional.
Other fun breakfast dishes to try
Mango Sticky Rice Waffles
- 1 cup Thai glutinous rice
- 1 can coconut milk (refrigerated overnight)
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
Coconut Cream Sauce:
- 3 tbsp coconut cream (from can of coconut milk)
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp cornstarch
- To serve:
- 2 mangos (peeled and sliced)
Make sticky rice:
- Cover sticky rice with room temperature water and soak overnight (or a minimum of 4 hours).
- Drain and rinse the rice until water runs clear.
- Place a colander or steaming basket inside a large pot or Dutch oven. Add water so it reaches just below colander/ basket. Put drained rice inside.
- Place over medium heat and bring water to a simmer. Once simmering, reduce heat slightly and cover the pot. Steam rice, leaving covered for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, open can of coconut milk and spoon off thick cream on top, setting aside in bowl. Pour rest of coconut milk into a saucepan, adding 1/2 teaspoon salt and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Cook for 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring frequently.
- Once rice is cooked, put into a mixing bowl and slowly pour over warmed coconut milk, stirring as you do. Chill rice in fridge whilst you prepare the sauce.
Make coconut cream sauce:
- Heat coconut cream in the same saucepan as you used before over low heat, adding in 1 tablespoon of sugar.
- In a small bowl, make a slurry of 1/2 teaspoon of cornstarch and a tablespoon of water. Add to coconut cream and whisk until mixture thickens. Take off heat.
Make the waffles:
- Grease waffle iron with cooking oil and preheat. Add a portion of sticky rice to the iron and push down hard to spread out. Cook rice until starting to go golden on the outside.
- Drizzle waffles with coconut cream sauce and serve with mango slices.
Did you make this recipe? We’d love to know! Tell us how it went in the comments below or tag us (@gourmetvegetarians) in your photos on Instagram.
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