“Hand made Glutinous Rice Balls filled with loves for this festive celebration, Dongzhi Festival (冬至)”
Today is Dōngzhì Festival or you called it Chinese Winter Solstice Festival (in Chinese: 冬至). One of the important festive celebrations to Chinese. Chinese calls this celebration as Gua Dong (过冬). Normally 冬至 falls on 22nd December, but this year falls on 21st December instead.
The most essential festive food in 冬至 is Tang Yuan (汤圆) aka Glutinous Rice Ball. 汤圆 symbolizes reunion. Eating 汤圆 together with the family is the best celebration in this festival.
Nowadays, many ready-packed 汤圆 are available in supermarket all year long. It comes with ground peanut, sesame and sugar mixture to serve as dipping condiment. Just make the soup will do. It is convenient and suitable especially for young families who prefer more convenience. For a home-cooked taste and greater satisfaction for such important celebration, homemade ones are still the best.
For the rice ball:
300 gram glutinous rice flour (about 1 cup)
1 teaspoon of cherry red colour essence
½ cup of water
3 slices of ginger
5 Pandan leaves (Screwpine), washed and cut off dead edges, tie leaves into a knot/ bundle
1 lump of rock sugar or brown sugar (about palm size, adjust sweetness to your liking)
1 pot of water, 50% filled (about 1000 ml)
Ground peanut mixture (peanut, white sesame and sugar)
1) Place glutinous rice flour in a clean large bowl. Put some water (in few stages) while kneading the flour into dough, which means mix the flour with a little bit of water, knead and put a little bit of water again. Repeat the step till it becomes dough. The texture of the dough has to be smooth and a little sticky.
2) Split half the dough. Half of it to mix with red colour, while the other half remains white.
2) Take a small lump of dough, put on your palm and roll into bite-sized ball. Repeat step till all complete.
3) To add ground peanut into the rice ball as its filling: take a bigger lump of dough, put on your palm and roll into (size of fifty cents) ball. Then, knead with finger tips to flatten the piece but leave a little well in the middle. Put half teaspoon of ground peanut in the ‘well’, fold it half and knead around the edge to seal it. Tenderly roll it into ball. Repeat step till desired amount of rice balls. Reserve rice balls for later.
4) Boil a pot of water over high heat. Place ginger slices and Pandan leaf bundle into the boiling water. Add rock sugar. Bring broth into a boil again.
5) Place rice balls into the boiling broth. Wait till all rice balls rise to the surface of the broth, when cooked. Heat off and serve.
Tips: Colour of the 汤圆 depends on your liking. You may use any other colour, but Chinese prefers red colour as auspicious colour. Alternatively, make Pandan flavour. Pound or blend a bundle of Pandan leaves, squeeze its juice, and mix the juice with the dough (to make Pandan flavour rice balls in green colour).
* To know if the rice balls are cooked: rices ball will float on the surface when cooked.