Children of sticky rice

From lush paddy fields to markets to temples, khao niao is more than Laos’s staple food; it is the glue that holds its people and traditions together. So much so that they refer to themselves as luk khao niew “children of the sticky rice”.

It’s the centrepiece of every meal, consumed by hand and comes in different forms – mainly as a bread-like utensil to scoop up food or dip into sauces.

Taking longer to digest than its long-grain cousin, steamed sticky rice wrapped in bamboo is a favourite street food snack in towns and villages. Its importance is recognised in religious rituals as well, handfuls of khao niao are offered on altars and temples.

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