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Growing up in Indonesia, these things are my favourite snack. It’s savoury, fragrant and surprisingly fairly easy to make. They can be made ahead and they also stores in the fridge really well.

Traditionally, it’s eaten as a snack, but you can size it up or down it into a wonderful appetizer for a South-East Asian meal or even a dish of itself, since it’s basically chicken and rice.

There are some uncommon ingredients in this recipe, but I’ll provide a guide to find them or its substitute. I'll also go through their uses quickly so you can use your judgement to modify the recipe!

Step 1: Fantastic Ingredients and Where to Find Them

Sticky Rice or Glutinous Rice(Required, can't be substituted)

They are pretty common to find these days, as it is consumed in many East Asian (China, Korea, Japan), South-East Asian (Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, The Philippines) and South Asian (India) countries. I would go to an East Asian market first as their diaspora is larger.

Sticky rice is crucial in this recipe. It gives the texture and structure to the dish. You can mixed it with short or medium grain rice (which are softer when cooked. Don't use Basmati!) into a 2:1 ratio, with sticky rice in the larger amount.

Coconut Milk (Required, can't be substituted)

They are quite common in supermarkets nowadays. You have to use the thick coconut milk that usually comes in cans instead of a coconut milk "drink" that is sold on the beverage aisle. They are used in cuisines of countries of the southern hemisphere ( South-East Asia, Caribbean, Central and South America).

Coconut milk will be the primary flavouring of the rice, so makes sure you get the right one!

Pandan Leaves(Optional, can't be substituted)

Pandan leaves gives a sweet fragrance to the rice, almost like a savoury vanilla. Fresh Pandan leaves are hard to find, although I don't have problems finding frozen ones. Most exporters I found are from Vietnam, Thailand and The Philippines, so your best bet is to go to a South-East Asian shops!

Makrut/Kaffir Lime Leaves(Required, but can be substituted)

Gives a floral and lime undertones to the chicken and rice. They are most likely to be found in places that sells South-East Asia ingredients, although I came across them in Indian and Mediterranean shops.

I really recommend not to skip it as it elevates the dish so much. A sort of adequate substitute is by using bay leaves and lime rinds.

Banana Leaves (Required, although can be substituted or opted)

Banana leaves are used to steam the rice and wrap these dumplings. The leaves are naturally waxy so the rice won't stick, and it gives a nice sweet aroma to the rice, reminiscence to Pandan.

Although it won't be as authentic, you can use bamboo leaves (used in Chinese cuisine) or just use wax paper or parchment paper. It will be fine!

Step 2: Tools, Tools, Tools.

Ideally, you would steam the sticky rice. Although you can boil them in a pan, I have zero luck with it and the constant stirring can break the grains and ruins the texture.

I'm using a steamer attachment in my rice cooker but if you have a nice pot with a steamer attachment that would be perfect!

Although this is not mandatory, I have been using this mini loaf pan as a mold to help me get an consistent rectangular shape. Soft silicone molds also works great.

To make the seasoning paste, you can get away with dicing it very small, or using either a grater, garlic presser, food processor, blender. If you want to do it the traditional way, use a pestle and mortar!

Step 3: Recipe!

(makes 6 big ones or 8-12 smaller ones)

Sticky Rice

300 gr sticky rice, soak in water for 3 hour to overnight
250 ml coconut milk
1-2 pandan leaf
3-5 lime leaves, remove stem
Salt and pepper to taste

Filling

200 gr chicken (raw or cooked and shredded)
150 ml coconut milk
3-5 lime leaves, remove stem
1-2 shallots
4-5 clove of garlic
1 teaspoon of coriander powder
Chillies or cayenne (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Miscellaneous

Banana leaves (cleaned and dried)

Directions

Making the filling

1. Boil chicken and shred.

2. Make a seasoning paste consisting of shallot, garlic, chillies and salt.

3. Put some oil on a medium heat pan.

4. Place the lime leaves, stir fry until slightly dry and fragrant, then add the seasoning paste.

5. Stir fry until cooked down and fragrant. Put some coriander powder and season to taste.

6. Put the shredded chicken and coconut milk.

7. Increase the heat a little bit and cook until coconut milk is cooked off and the meat is browned.


Sticky Rice

1. Fill the steamer with water or leftover chicken broth. Place the soaked rice on top.

2. Insert the aromatics (pandan, lime leaves) inside the rice and steam to cook halfway, around 10 minutes.

3. Add salt and coconut milk. Gently fold to not break the rice and steam until fully cooked, about another 10 minutes.

4. Set aside to cool.

Assembly

1. If you are using your hand, use a plastic gloves or wet you hand a bit.

2. Make a sandwich of rice and filling. Try putting the filling on the center so the rice on the sides stick together.

3. Cut some banana leaves and wrap it.

4. Put the lemper on broil for a few minutes until the banana leaves are toasted.
Alternatively, you can use a non stick pan or a pan with a bit of oil and pan fry them a bit.

5. The banana leaves fragrance will seeps in better if you store it overnight.

Troubleshooting

1. If the rice is too mushy/overcooked, don't be afraid and just make your lemper! Set an oven on low heat and put the lemper until they dry out.

2. If your lemper is too dry because you put them in the oven too long, you can steam them again for a few minutes.

Step 4: Prep Work - Soaking the Rice

Sticky rice are really starchy so you have to soak it first to soften it.

Just fill up enough water to cover the entire thing. Stir it every few hours and add water as the rice will soak all of it. It's best to use a wide bowl as the water would distribute evenly and you don't have to stir as much.

Soak the rice anytime from 3 hours to overnight.

If you are planning to use two types of rice, you don't have to soak the other rice.

Step 5: Making the Filling

If you're using cooked shredded chicken, skip step one. Did I mentioned that this recipe is perfect for using leftover roasted chicken?

1. Rub raw chicken with salt and pepper. Let sit and boil until cooked. Shred.

2. Make a seasoning paste consisting of shallot, garlic, chillies and salt.

3. Put some oil on a medium heat pan.

4. Place the lime leaves, stir fry until slightly dry and fragrant, then add the seasoning paste.

5. Stir fry until cooked down and fragrant. Put some coriander powder and season to taste.
You should taste the sharp and peppery profile from the garlic, sweetness from the shallots, with the aroma of coriander and lime leaves!

6. Put the shredded chicken and coconut milk.

7. Increase the heat a little bit and cook until coconut milk is cooked off and the meat is browned.

Step 6: Steaming the Rice

1. Fill the steamer with water or leftover chicken broth. Put the rice on the steamer.

2. Insert the aromatics (pandan and lime leaves) inside the rice and steam about 10 minutes until halfway cooked.

3. Add salt and coconut milk. Gently fold to not break the rice and steam until fully cooked, about 10 more minutes.

4. Set aside to cool.

Step 7: Assembly

1. If you are using your hand, wet you hand a bit.

2. Make a sandwich by stacking the rice and filling.

4. Put the lemper on broil for a few minutes until the banana leaves are toasted. Alternatively, you can use a non stick pan or a pan with a bit of oil and pan fry them a bit.

5. The banana leaves fragrance will seeps in better if you store it overnight.

Step 8: Enjoy!

You deserve it!
If you want to make it extra decadent, prior to serving you can peel the banana leaves and pan fry them a bit until the both sides are crispy!

Hope you enjoy the dish!

This looks so tasty. I love pandan desserts, had no idea it was used to flavor rice too. can't wait to make this.
<p>That would make a great portable food for a picnic.</p>

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