The winter solstice marks the arrival of winter (冬至) when sunshine is weakest, daylight shortest (being the sun is furthest south from the equator in the northern hemisphere).  This day usually falls on the 22 December.

In the Chinese culture it is celebrated as the tung chieh festival. It is a time of family gathering, well we can consider it as a thanksgiving in the Chinese calender. One of the activities during this festival is the making of tang yuan (湯圓). Tang yuan is glutinous rice balls (which signify unity and harmony within the family) cooked in either savoury or sweet soup. I usually make it sweet.

This is all you need:

A packet of glutinous rice flour, water, edible colouring and rock sugar. Pandan leaves is optional.

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Pour some (100g) of glutinous flour into a bowl. Add water (not too much as you need to get it into a dough consistency). If you happened to add too much water, just add more glutinous flour. (If you’re not careful with the water you might end up with a big glutinous dough!)


I roll the white dough into small balls then the balance I add in the red colouring (or any colour you like). Red here represents good luck (like many things red in Chinese culture!).



In a pot of boiling water, I put in the pandan leaves (tied into a knot) and add in rock sugar (or white sugar). Then I put in the glutinous rice balls into the boiling water. When the balls start to float then it’s cooked. (To avoid having a ‘gluey’ soup, I ran the glutinous rice balls into another pot of boiling water then cold water first before I put all of them into the syrup water).


TAADAA… a bowl of simple tang yuan.


Just remember when you take these, you would be considered a year older!😉