Make this Winter Solstice merrier with Dongzhi Tang Yuan

Dongzhi Tang Yuan, also known as Sweet Dumplings is made to celebrate the Winter Solstice Festival every year.

Dongzhi or Winter Solstice Festival is one of the most important celebrations for the Chinese. It falls on Sunday, Dec 22 this year.

In Hokkien, tang yuan is “nyee,” which aptly means “round or circle.”

All the food for this festival is served in traditional dishes and bowls like the bowl and spoon pictured above, and offered to a family’s ancestors.

After the prayers, the family gathers around to have a feast, savouring delicious tang yuan too.


1. Ginger Syrup

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2-3 pandan leaves or screwpine leaves, tied into a knot
  • 1 piece ginger, peeled and slightly pounded with a cleaver

2. Glutinous Rice Dumplings

  • 2 cups glutinous rice (sticky rice) flour
  • 200g water
  • red and yellow food colouring


  • To prepare the syrup, pour the water into a pot.
  • Add the pandan leaves and ginger to the water and bring to boil on medium heat until the aroma of the ginger and pandan leaves is released.
  • Add sugar and let simmer for another 15 minutes. Add more or reduce the sugar, to taste. Set aside.
  • In a separate bowl, mix glutinous rice flour with water and knead with hands to form a dough. The dough is done when it doesn’t stick to your hands anymore.
  • Divide the dough into three portions, with the plain dough being the biggest portion. Add two to three drops of food colouring to make the pink and yellow dough.
  • Pinch the dough into small balls and roll in between your palms to make round, smooth balls. Set aside on a flat surface lined with paper or a slightly damp cloth.
  • Bring another pot of water to the boil, then drop the coloured dumplings into the boiling water.
  • As soon as the balls float, transfer them into the syrup water you prepared earlier. Serve immediately.


Adjust the water level to the flour. Add more water if the dough is too dry. Add more flour if it’s too wet.

This article first appeared in Rasa Malaysia.

Low Bee Yinn is a food blogger and cookbook author.