A traditional Thai dessert gets a makeover - fresh mango turned into luscious icecream and served with an antioxidant-rich black rice pudding.
It is like magic. You put frozen fruit into this machine and out comes luscious, soft ice cream. The machine, called Yonanas, can transform frozen fruit into ice cream without using milk, cream, sugar, yogurt or artificial sweeteners.
While it works with many fruits, the consistency and flavour is best if you use over-ripe bananas. I pooh-poohed it until I gave it a try.
I usually use only a food chopper or a blender to turn out sorbet as I do not have an ice-cream maker.
But with a food chopper, the texture of the processed fruit is icy; and a blender needs liquid, usually syrup, for it to work.
But the tiny blades of this new machine are able to churn out a frozen concoction from just fruit. It has the consistency of ice cream, at a fraction of the calories.
Which means the lactose-intolerant can now eat "ice cream" as often as they like, as it is just pure fruit, really.
I experimented with the machine and discovered that it processes different fruits differently.
Juicier fruits, such as berries and watermelon, turn out like sorbet, while richer fruits, such as bananas, peaches and mango, come out creamier.
I also experimented with yam and sweet potato but they came out too dense, probably needing milk or cream to lighten them up. But ripe mango was perfect.
So I made a pure mango icecream to serve with black glutinous rice and longans, like the Thai dessert of fresh mango with white glutinous rice.
Except now, the mango is in the form of ice cream, to be eaten with nutty black rice pudding and coconut milk.
While I had made the ice cream using the machine, you could use a food chopper, though the texture would be different.
Add a little soya milk, if needed, to make the ice cream smoother.
The match with pulot hitam (Malay for black glutinous rice) was deliberate for the rice is not only rich in fibre, but also has more of an antioxidant called anthocyanin than blueberries do. Blueberries, touted to be a form of superfood, contain anthocyanin, believed to be helpful in fighting heart disease, cancer and other diseases.
But just a spoonful of black rice bran contains more anthocyanin than a spoonful of blueberries, but with less sugar and more fibre and vitamin E, reported Dr Zhimin Xu, a food scientist at the Louisiana State University in the United States.
While the idea of frozen mango ice cream belongs to this age, the recipe for black rice pudding is rooted in the past, especially when teamed with dried longans, which give a nice shot of sweetness to the pudding.
I could therefore reduce the sugar content in the rice to just two tablespoons.
And instead of using 100 per cent coconut cream, I used light coconut milk, now available commercially, made into cream with cornflour, an old way of stretching the milk and so reducing the fat content.
Our grandmothers, who used to turn out pulot hitam pudding for tea for decades, knew this as well.
Sylvia Tan is a freelance writer.
Mango ice cream with black rice pudding (Serves four to six)
4 ripe mangoes 2½ cups water 1 cup black glutinous rice, soaked for a couple of hours, then drained 2 tbs brown sugar ½ tsp salt ½ cup dried longans, rinsed½ cup light coconut milk, available from supermarkets1 heaped tsp cornflour
- Two days before serving this dessert, peel and slice the mangoes and store them in a covered container and freeze them.
- On the day of serving, defrost the mangoes a little. Feed the slightly thawed fruits into the Yonanas machine or use a food chopper to process them.
- If the ice cream is too dense, add a quarter cup of soya milk. Refreeze the ice cream.
- In a small saucepan, add two cups of water to the drained rice and bring it to the boil over medium heat.
- Lower the heat and let the mixture simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes or until the rice becomes tender. Stir occasionally.
- When the rice has become tender, add brown sugar and salt.
- Let the mixture simmer for a couple more minutes.
- Add the dried longans and turn off the heat. The texture of the pudding should be thick. Let it cool.
- Place the coconut milk in a small pot and heat it over a small fire.
- From half a cup of water, add a little water to the cornflour to obtain a paste. Add the rest of the water to the paste.
- Then add the paste to the coconut milk, stirring all the time till it thickens. Add a pinch of salt.
- To serve, allow ice cream to soften a little.
- Dish out individual servings of the rice pudding onto plates. Add a scoop or two of icecream and a swirl of coconut "cream" to each plate. Serve.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.