Khao Niaw refers to "glutinous or sticky rice" which is the staple of Lao Cuisine. Like Laos neighboring countries, rice is a staple food. However, in Laos, they mostly eat Khao Niaw which they rolled into a neat, bite-size ball and eaten with a hand with other dishes. Khao Niaw serves as an accompaniment to various dips, parboiled vegetables, salad, soups and various curried meat or seafood (fish) dishes.

Long grain rice which is called Khao Jao in Laos is also always available, but it is the Khao Niaw which remains the basic staple of the Lao people and is one of the distinctive features of Lao cuisine.

The Khao Niaw is traditionally and often served in a simple but attractive woven bamboo container called a Tip Khao.

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