Pulut Mempelam: The Famous Mango Sticky Rice from Perlis
Pulut Mempelam (also called Pulut Mangga) is a traditional Mango dessert of Perlis, Malaysia. ‘Pulut’ means sticky rice, while ‘mempelam’ is the Tamil loan word for mango fruit. It is basically a dish with sticky glutinous rice (pulut sibar), drenched in sweet coconut sauce, and served with mango pieces. This dish is very similar to its neighbour Thailand’s mango sticky rice.
In Perlis, the sticky rice dessert is often served with a local mango cultivar called Harumanis or Harum Manis (Mangifera indica Linn). It is famous for its rich taste and distinct aroma, reflected in its name. In Bahasa Malaysia, ‘harum’ means fragrant and ‘manis’ means sweet.
The fruit is seasonal (April to June) and in high demand, hence it is more expensive compared to other types of mangoes. It can only be found in Perlis and some parts of Kedah and Kelantan, but only the ones from Perlis can be legally called Harumanis.
Naturally, during sweet mangoes season, people will be making or looking for this dish in Perlis. To make Pulut Mempelam, glutinous rice is first soaked to make the cooking process quicker. It is then steamed until cooked. The cooked sticky rice is then mixed with some coconut sauce, which is made from coconut milk, sugar, salt and pandan leaves. The leftover coconut sauce is thickened with corn flour to be served as gravy. With the addition of mango pieces and some sesame seeds as garnish, the dish is completed. The combination of the creamy sticky rice and the sweet Harum Manis mangoes has amazed those who tried it.
Apart from mangoes, the sticky rice goes really well with other fruits too. Some sellers provide the choices of other toppings like bananas, durians, jackfruits or even sapodilla.