Magenta Sticky Rice – Xôi Lá Cẩm

I showed my kids how to make magenta sticky rice using our homegrown magenta plants.

Growing and Extracting Magenta Plant

  • Prep time: 3.5 hours
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Note: I mastered steaming sticky rice using a bao steamer and a 100% cotton fabric (not cheesecloth).
  • Pictorial demonstrated by Chef Ethan and Chef Grace so I had to split ingredients and tools into two portions for them. If you are following this pictorial and instruction to train two chefs at the same time, make sure to have two big mixing bowls, two 1/4 measuring cups, two 1-tablespoons, two small bowls, and two containers big enough to hold 1-liter of water.


Toppings may include:

  • ataulfo mangos
  • roasted sesame seeds
  • roasted crushed peanuts
  • sugar + salt + roasted crushed peanuts mixture
  • coconut cream milk mixture

For the coconut cream milk mixture:

  • 1 14-oz can coconut cream milk
  • 1/2 cup coconut water
  • 1/2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch + 2 Tbsp coconut water
  • pandan leaves (optional)


1. Chef Grace and Chef Ethan measure and scoop out four (1/4th) cups of uncooked sweet or glutinous rice into a big bowl. Chef Ethan is learning how to scoop to the full line. (You don’t need a colander. Mama thought it would make easier but having the colander created more mess.)

2. The chefs each pour 1.5 liter of water into their bowl.

3. The chefs learn to rinse the glutinous rice by gently rubbing the rice grains between their palms.

4. Rinse and strain the glutenous rice two times. Chef Grace and Ethan pour in one liter of water and rinse the glutinous rice again for the second time. When their hands are too busy and ears are not listening, they freeze and put their hands up behind their head until mama is ready for them to do the next step. They rub the rice gently again. Mama let them do this for just a minute. Then mama strained the rice in the colander the second time.

5. They are now ready to soak the rice. Mama prepares the water, natural magenta extract, and salt for the chefs. The little chefs pour in one liter of water into the bowl of rinsed glutinous rice.

6. They pour in about three tablespoons of magenta extract. Then they stir the mixture well.

7. They set the bowls of glutinous rice aside to soak it for three hours and clean up their mess.

8. After soaking the sweet rice for three hours, mama strained the liquid and combined all the soaked sweet rice into one bowl.

9. Mama also prepared the half cup of coconut milk, one-fourth cup sugar, and one-fourth teaspoon salt for each little chef so that they won’t fight over one another. (Allowing each little chef to have their own portion of ingredients to pour into the big bowl helps cut out a lot of drama.)

10. The chefs pour in the coconut cream milk first.

11. Next, they pour in the sugar and salt.

12. Then they stir the mixture to blend everything together.

13. Mama filled the bottom layer of the steam pot with about three inches of water and lay a 100% quilter’s cotton fabric on the bottom of the steamer tray. (Do not use cheesecloth.)

14. Chef Grace and Ethan spoon the rice mixture onto the fabric and spread the mixture out evenly.

15. Mama closed the steam pot with a lid, set timer to twenty minutes, and steam the rice on medium high heat. During this time, mama peels and cuts the sweet Ataulfo mangoes. She makes the coconut cream milk mixture. She brings the coconut cream milk to a boil on medium high heat and add in the sugar, salt, and cornstarch mixture.

16. After steaming the rice for twenty minutes, mama adds more water to the bottom layer of the steam pot if the water is low. She uses a big spoon to flip the sticky rice over, fluff the sticky rice, and drizzle in about a half cup of water. Then she puts the lid on the top again and continue to steam the sticky rice for another fifteen minutes. Done.

Today, we served the sticky rice with coconut cream milk mixture and ataulfo mangos. You can serve it with roasted crushed peanuts, roasted sesame seeds, and or sprinkle on a bit of salt and sugar mixture on top of the sticky rice instead of the coconut milk mixture. Chef Grace prefers sprinkling the salt and sugar mixture instead. Enjoy!

Chef Grace likes the plain steamed magenta sticky rice with mangoes and roasted sesame seeds. She doesn’t like the coconut cream milk mixture with anything.

Chef Ethan hoarded the bowl of mangoes in his lap. He loves mangoes obviously. He care less for everything else.

Behind the scenes:

Mama’s silly chefs-in-training can act like goof balls sometimes.

Don’t forget to stick those magenta cuttings into the ground to grow more magenta plants! It will easily root in rich soil in the shade.

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  1. Hello nguoi ban moi quen… can you give the address of that nursery ? I can’t find it on the internet.. ty

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