Cameron Highlands Tea Plantation, Malaysia

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Tong Yuen Festival

Today is Dong Zhi, which marks the Winter Solstice, according to the chinese calender. Dong Zhi is the time for family to get together to make tong yuen. Traditionally, Tong Yuen is served on special occasions such as during weddings and the winter solstice festival about 6 weeks before the Chinese New Year. This special occasion is widely celebrated by the Chinese community all around the globe where family and relatives would gather for reunion to mark this significant festivity.

Basically, Tong yuen is a Chinese dessert made from glutinous rice flour. Just like the past, my kids and I would gather with my mom and we would make the rice balls one by one from the glutinous dough prepared. If you're too lazy to roll the rice balls, the coloured balls can be easily obtained in wet markets or hypermarkets. Despite all these conveniences, nothing beats making it from scratch, with kids gathered together and helping out to learn the art of rolling tong yuen .

The whole affair can be a joyous and fun experience that they will remember always, and hopefully pass on to another generation. They enjoy doing it but will turn the whole house upside down with small piles of flour scattered on the floor, dough on the wall, colours on each other’s faces and practically everything else in the house. LOL!

There you go, a bowl of colourful Tong Yuen or Glutinous Rice Balls in Pandan flavoured ginger syrup. Some of the common used colours are white and pink but this year my mom create multiple colours which include green (extracted from pandan leaves), blue (extracted from blue pea flowers a.k.a bunga telang) and maroon (extracted from dragon fruit).

Hurray for Dong Zhi!


  1. Happy Dong Zhi!!
    I have not eaten my rice dumplings. Hubby has gone out to buy ready cooked ones. I prefer the ones with black sesame filling. :P

  2. I made Tong Yuan too but only pink color.
    Is good idea to use natural color. I find it too much work for me and I was not sure my sons like it. Surprisingly both of them enjoy it this year.

  3. That is really cool. I like the winter solstice as well but dont have any tradition to mark it's occurrence. Maybe I need to start one. Since I am from "western" descendants I probably could make anything up and it would be OK!! Nice post.

  4. I totally forgot about this cos we don't celebrate this festival. I've no idea why.. LOL! Happy Dong Zhi!!

  5. EcL,
    Happy Dong Zhi to you and your family. my mom prefers to make the traditional tong yuen. the black sesame filling must be tasty, is it?

  6. I like Tong Yuen! It's a good thing you use natural food for the colouring unlike most restaurants which use artificial colouring.

  7. molly,
    Happy Dong Zhi to you and your family. My mom makes it a point to use natural colors. as much as i liked eating rice balls, my kids loved them too.

  8. Hi, Julia!
    Happy Solstice! I believe this event is celebrated around the world by many cultures. You can join in the fun too and I bet it's going to be a memorable experience.

    Thanks for dropping by!

  9. monica,
    Happy Dong Zhi to you and your family.

  10. foong,
    Happy Dong Zhi to you and your family. it's not my usual practise to use artificial colorings in my cooking, let alone tong yuen.

  11. Wow so colourful! I don't think I've tasted this before but it sure looks tempting! :):):)

  12. mariuca,
    if you have a sweet tooth, the taste is heavenly, hehe.