One of the simplest and most delicious Asian desserts, glutinous black rice with coconut and palm sugar requires a bit of forward planning but from there on in, it’s almost a set-and-forget exercise.
Glutinous, or “sticky” rice, does not contain gluten despite its name. It is a variety of rice widely used across south-east Asia, especially in sweet snacks. When cooked, the grains become translucent and super-sticky. White glutinous rice is the most widely used but the black version has an earthier flavour that contrasts beautifully with sugary additions and a dramatic appearance that looks great on the plate. Variations on this dessert are popular in Burma, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.
In Charmaine Solomon’s Encylopedia of Asian Food (William Heinemann, 1996), she describes her grandmother’s “delicious tea-time treat” called khao nieo (this is the Burmese name; in Thailand it is khao niew). Solomon’s grandmother would finish her sweet sticky rice with a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds pounded with a mortar and pestle with a little sea salt. “This final addition focused the flavours in an incredible way.”
In this version, developed by Alyce Alexandra for the Thermomix, the additions (coconut, palm sugar, sesame) are very similar. You will see that Alyce has also included a pinch of salt—take her advice and Solomon’s, and don’t be tempted to leave it out—it’s one of those touches that makes all the difference.
This is a versatile dish you could serve at an indulgent brunch, or as the finale for a south-east Asian themed dinner. A little goes a long way—if you’re serving this after a big meal, consider plating smaller portions than we have suggested here.