Friday, 17 January 2014

Lantern Festival and Tangyuan Yummzz

The Chinese Festival, called the Lantern Festival falls on January, 15 according to the lunar calendar. As indicated by the name, this festival is accompanied by beautifully designed and decorated lanterns. In olden days, lanterns were pretty simple but today they consist of classic designs including those of animal shapes. Lanterns symbolize that people should forget their past problems and start the new year with a brand new begining with good deeds. The red lantern color indicates good fortune. But as we know that any festival is incomplete without food, Tangyuan is the traditional chinese sumptuous recipe that is served on this auspicious occasion.

Tangyuan is made up of glutinous rice flour, which is the main ingredient. It may be stuffed or unfilled. Unfilled Tangyuan are sweet dumplings. The rice flour is mixed with a small amount of water. Balls are formed from it and cooked. Balls may be big or small. They are served in boiling water. It can be eaten during following fests and occasions as well:-

  • Chinese Winter Solstice Festival
  • family/relatives re-union
  • Wedding and ring ceremony
  • Chinese New Year
Variant names:-
  • yuanxiao (this is derived from Yuanxiao Festival)
  • tangyuan or tangtuan
  • round dumplings in soup
Southern Chinese usually eat sweet dumplings with filling that consists of sugar,  osmanthus flowers, sweet bean paste, sesame etc. Northern Chinese prefer to have salty dumplings consisting of minced vegetables and meat. Tangyuan can be paired with the following:-
  • Red bean soup
  • Black sesame soup
  • Ginger and rock sugar

Since ancient times, the preparation method of this dish vary though it's chiefly consumed on Lantern festival in the same country. Tangyuan was traditionally white in color. Later on flavors were added to it on customer demand, making the recipe even more tempting and delectable. Yet few of them relish in their form and color.

Sweet filling consists of:-
  • Peanut butter and sugar
  • Chopped peanuts and sugar
  • Red bean paste
  • Crushed sugarcane rock candy
  • Sesame and sugar paste

Asian supermarkets in China and other places produce Tangyuan that comes under frozen food section. Tangyuan is widely associated with  Winter Solstice and Chinese New Year in China as well as other parts of Asia like Japan etc.

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