Thursday, October 20, 2011

#162 Experimenting with Sweet 'Osmanthus Fragrans' and Khao Niaow Ma Muang

Sweet Olive aka Osmanthus fragrans belongs to the Olive family. It is a large shrub grown in many parts of Asia for its beautiful fragrance. The flowers can be white, pale yellow or orange-yellow and are produced in the late summer or early fall. One of my friends shared a handful of these flowers from a shrub in her yard. I had no idea what they were or how to use them, but I was determined to find out.
Now, I was challenged with how to use a completely new ingredient in a recipe and I was in a quandary!! How will I go about using this unknown flower that I had never heard of until now? I researched a bit, and came across something interesting to get my juices flowing but was still perplexed.  It turns out that in Chinese this flower is also called 'cinnamon flower' and is infused with green or black tea leaves to create a fragrant tea. If you've noticed chinese tea in the store that has a pre-fix 'Gui Hua' that means the tea leaves have been infused with Sweet Osmanthus.

The fragrance turned out to be fruity (like peaches or apricots), almost subtly floral like honeysuckle... so my sense of smell and taste said that it would be ideal for a sweet treat, dessert or maybe bread?? I learned that people make a sugar syrup with the flowers and store it in the refrigerator for future use.  I started off thinking that I have about 1-2 teaspoonfuls of the flowers and to give a light flavor why not incorporate it into Basmati rice instead of Asian sticky rice in coconut milk and serve with Mango Thai style-- Khao Niaow Ma Muang? 

Sweet Coconut Rice with Mango

•1/2 cup Basmati Rice
•1 cup water
•1 ripe mango sliced lengthwise
•1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
•1 can good-quality coconut milk
• pinch of salt
•1 tsp. cornstarch or arrowroot powder dissolved in 2 Tbsp. water
+ 2 Tblsn reserved Coconut milk+ 1 Tbslpn Sugar

1.Soak the rice in 1 cup water for 20 minutes. Take the Osmanthus and boil with 3/4 cup water until the water has a light brown color. Drain the flowers out and save the liquid for cooking the rice.
2.Add enough water to cook the rice and include the 3/4 cup Osmanthus water to the rice, plus 1/2 can coconut milk, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. coconut flavoring, and  brown sugar. Stir this into the rice, lifting any rice grains that have stuck to the bottom of the pot.
3.Bring to a gentle boil, then partially cover with a lid (leaving some room for steam to escape). Turn the heat down to medium-low.
4.Allow to simmer for 20 minutes, or until the water has been absorbed by the rice. Remove the pot from the heat, place the lid on tight, and leave to "steam" cook for 5-10 minutes.
5.Make sauce and serve the dessert right away, or store the rice (covered) in the refrigerator until you're ready to use it.
6.To make the sauce, warm the rest of the coconut milk together with sugar, a pinch of salt, 1 tsp. coconut flavoring (optional)  over medium heat.
7.Add cornstarch (dissolved in the water) to the sauce and stir to thicken it slightly. As it thickens, turn down heat to low. When thickened, remove from heat.
Tip: Try not to boil the sauce, or you will lose that wonderful coconut flavor.
8.Before serving, taste-test the sauce for sweetness, adding more sugar if desired. If too sweet for your taste, add a little more coconut milk.
9. When ready to serve place a scoop of sweeted Basmati rice on the serving plate. Place the sliced Mango on the side. Toast a Tablespoon of raw rice kernels in the oven until brown in color.
10. For the finishing touch pour spoonfuls of the coconut sauce over the rice and sprinkle with the toasted rice kernels. Enjoy!


  1. Oh my gosh... that rice looks simply delicious. I can't use the brown sugar but I can substitute it with stevia or xylitol.

  2. Wow!!! thats so new to me and look delish!

  3. I love cooking with herbs too & this is simply gorgeous!

    Malli, I'd submitted my Creepy Halloween Pumpkin Treats for a Recipe Challenge. I'd appreciate a minute of your time to hop over to VOTE for my entry. Voting closes 24 Oct 2011. I thank you for your votes & appreciate your kind gesture!

  4. I love the idea of rice with a sweet mango flavor. Like a rice dessert- it looks simply beautiful and delicious

  5. my, what an exotic post! love it Malli :)

  6. Wow, this looks wonderful - I'm trying to imagine how the mix of aromas must be - I bet it's so delicious!


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