Hanoians often make two types of sweet dumplings - banh troi (floating dumplings) and banh chay ( sweet mung bean dumplings) - on the third day of the third month of the Lunar year, to worship their ancestors.
|Making these eye-catching banh troi and banh chay can be a joyful moment for mothers and children. Photo: The Vietnamese sweet dumplings made by To Hung Giang.
Han Thuc Festival or the ‘Cold Food Festival’, falls on 14 April this year. Even though not many people are knowledgeable about the festival’s origin, it’s still considered important among all the Vietnamese rituals.
As special dishes made exclusively for Han Thuc festival, banh troi and banh chay as well as their ingredients are sold at every market throughout the country in the days leading up to and during the festivals. Expats in Hanoi can buy the ready-made ingredients and delight their children at home with a Vietnamese cooking lesson.
In these modern days, savvy working housewives don’t have time for the time-consuming task, so they prefer to buy banh troi and banh chay at food stalls in the market. But like many things, the best are home-made.
|The colouful dish of Banh troi made by To Hung Giang.
Banh troi are small white dumplings made from glutinous rice flour stuffed with brown sugar. The most important stage of making banh troi is the shaping. Cooks pinch a little dough and flatten it out, place a brown sugar ball in the middle and roll it into a smaller ball of about three centimeters in diameter.
The cook heats the water to the boiling point, then cools it down a little bit before dropping some rice balls in, then boils again. When the balls float to the surface of the pot, they’re taken out with a ladle and then immediately placed into a bowl of cold water to prevent them from being overly sticky or gluing together.
The final step is the presentation. The white glutinous balls are put onto a plate and sprinkled with roasted white or black sesame seeds. Once made, they should be eaten that same day.
Banh chay are also made from glutinous flour, but they resemble boiled dumplings and are filled with mung bean paste, sprinkled with sesame seeds, and served in bowls with syrup flavored with grapefruit blossoms.
|A new version of banh chay in funky shape of pigs made by Phuong Nguyen.
Traditionally, the banh troi and banh chay are white with a sugary taste, but talented cooks can make them more colourful and tasty by adding food colouring or flavouring to the dough.
In the present days, housewives do not need to prepare all ingredients for making these cakes by themselves but ordering from online stores on social media such as Facebook and Zalo or online shopping platforms like Shoppee, Lazada or buying from local markets.
These dough sets include all ready-made ingredients such as sticky-rice flour, natural brown sugar, green bean paste, sesame seeds, grated coconut, among others, at prices ranging from VND65,000 ($3) to VND100,000 ($4.5) per set.
A dough set at the price of $3 comprises one kilogram of ready-made glutinous rice flour (in five different colours) with corresponding amounts of sugar and roasted sesame.
|The safe ready-made ingredients to make banh troi and banh chay could be ordered via social media such as Facebook and Zalo or online shopping platforms like Shoppee, Lazada. Photo: dolambanhgabi
A more expensive set, at $4.5, includes one kilogram of glutinous rice flour with corresponding amounts of sugar and roasted sesame for making banh troi and green bean paste and fresh sliced coconut for making banh chay.
Besides, the ready-made sweets are also available for busy housewives. The prices for ready-to-eat sweets range from VND10,000 to VND50,000 (from US$0.4 to $2.1) per portion, could also be ordered online or bought in the local markets.
For adventurous housewife who want to experience some new ‘different’ tastes, the floating dumplings with salted eggs or chocolate fillings are also available at the price of VND100,000 ($4.5) for a portion. Additionally, the floating dumplings in non-traditional shapes like rabbit, cat, fish are also the highlights of this year’s Han thuc Festival.
The ready-made ingredients for making banh troi and banh chay at home are available at: https://www.facebook.com/beemartvietnam; https://www.facebook.com/vanashop or https://www.facebook.com/dolambanhgabi