Kralan is a traditional Cambodian rice dish, where rice and other ingredients are cooked inside a bamboo stick. Ingredients such as beans and vegetables are added to the sticky rice. Locals tend to eat this food around the New Year as an annual tradition.
Experts suggest that neighboring culinary cultures have influenced the kralan dish. Thai, Vietnamese, and even Chinese elements can be seen in this food. The use of rice shows its importance as a staple for the local population.
In many preparations, the ingredients for kralan are packed into a stick of bamboo. The space for the dish might not take up much of the length of the bamboo rod, where most of this longer stick simply conveys the air from the fire. Photos taken of authentic cooks preparing kralan show bamboo pieces being angled at a diagonal, with the heat rising up to roast the food. When the cooking is done, those eating the dish generally peel the bamboo pieces away and take out the food.
It’s interesting to note that not many formal recipes for this food are distributed over the Internet. In general, kralan is much more obscure than many other rice dishes from other regions of the world. For example, the Spanish paella, which involves simmered rice, and Arabian rice dishes are abundantly available online. Recipes for similar dishes from the Orient are also often available.
The way that the kralan dish uses rice is similar to other preparations that originated in nearby countries. For example, the Chinese have a custom of using guoba, or “scorched rice” in blocks. Where the kralan also cooks rice harder than it is cooked in many presentations, it may not be “scorched” but simply air dried and hardened into a sort of block. In some ways, this presentation is also an alternative to the popular middle eastern technique of cooking a kabob of meat and vegetables and laying it over rice. With the Cambodian version, and its special cooking method, both elements, the vegetables and the rice, are served together and also prepared in the same container.
Those who want to know more about this Cambodian food can find pictorials that chronicle its preparation. Cambodian cooks will also have more inside information about particular cooking techniques. This food, which originated as a local way to celebrate a holiday, can be used in modern cosmopolitan reviews of worldwide cuisine or explorations of foreign food cultures.