Aw Lam (Lao stew)

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons cooked sticky rice, flattened to 1 cm (1/2 in.) thick
Half a chicken breast (or other part), skinned, boned and flattened (You can also use beef, pork, smoked or cured meats)

Vegetables and herbs (to be soaked):
2 yard-long beans, cut in 5 cm (2 in.) lengths
Small handful of new pumpkin shoots
1 stalk lemon grass (bruised)
2- 3 small sprigs dill
4 leaves saw tooth herb (stinkweed)
760 – 960 ml (3-4 cups) water for stock
1 teaspoon salt
1 Knorr chicken bouillon cube (or 1 Maggi chicken stock cube). If you have a homemade stock then substitute the volume of stock for the water volume
8 pieces sakhan (genus piper), each approx. 3 cm (11/4 in.) by 1 cm (1/2 in. )diameter. (Optional, or make a bouquet garni of 1 tspn black peppercorns and a dried chilli).
8 Thai small round eggplants, destalked and partly cut in half vertically from the top
30- 40 cm (12- 16 in.) rattan shoot cut in 3-4 cm (1 3/4 in. )pieces
1-2 fresh chillies, (prik chi fah)
1 large sprig holy basil (2 T), leaves only


Method:

1. Grill the flattened sticky rice and chicken over a low flame until the rice is dry and partly brown and chicken is just cooked. Cool.
2. Wash and prepare vegetables and herbs and put in a bowl of cold water to soak.
3. Pour the  water into a saucepan, add the salt and crumbled stock cube and bring to the boil on a low heat.
4. Break the sticky rice into 1 cm (1/2 in.) pieces and add to the simmering stock. Add the lemon grass, sakhan, prepared egg plants and cut up rattan. Simmer for 4 minutes. Add                                  chillies, and simmer for 10 minutes more.
5. When soft. remove the eggplants and chillies from stew and set aside in a mortar (or food processor).
6. Cut the grilled chicken into 1.5 x 4 cm (3/4 in. x 1 3/4 in.) pieces, and add to the simmering stew together with the holy basil.
7. Pulp the eggplants and chillies using a pestle and mortar (or food processor).
8. Drain and add the remaining vegetables and herbs to the stew, then add the eggplant and chilli pulp. Remove bouquet garni if used. Add salt to taste and serve. 
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