Pumpkin Glutinous Rice Balls aka Pumpkin Tangyuan (南瓜汤圆)



Today is 12-12-2014, and in 10 day’s time, Chinese will be celebrating the arrival of the Winter Solstice 2014 by preparing some delicious Tang Yuan or glutinous rice balls.


I have a rather long post on Tang Yuan last year with the humble red and white traditional tangyuan that my families used to prepare. There was no filling but I did share two ways of serving these glutinous rice balls. If you are interested to understand more about tangyuan and the simple recipe, you can refer to : Time To Celebrate Winter Solstice–Chinese Tangyuan or Glutinous Rice Balls

For this year, I am sharing a variation of this traditional tangyuan, pumpkin tangyuan. Adding pumpkin will enhance the texture, flavour and look of the tangyuan. In addition, it will provide some natural sweetness for the plain dough.


As for the fillings, my initial thought was to share will all the black sesame fillings. However, half way during my preparation, my food processor broke down and refuse to work.. My sesame fillings become  very grainy and I have resorted to the use of the ready made red bean fillings. Hope that readers can excuse me for this.





For dough

  • 150 grams of pumpkin
  • 150 grams of glutinous rice flour

For black sesame fillings

  • 75 grams of black sesame seeds, roasted
  • 30 grams of sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of cooking oil

For red bean paste fillings

  • About 300 grams of read made red bean paste


For Ginger or Pandanus syrup

  • 5 pieces of thick ginger slices
  • 10 leaves of Pandanus leaves – bundled
  • 50 grams of castor sugar or rock sugar or brown sugar
  • 1 litre of plain water


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  • slice the pumpkin  in thick pieces and put in a microwavable bowl. Microwave the pumpkin for 2-3 minutes until it is cooked and soft. You can also steamed the pumpkin for about 10-15 minutes.

  • Transfer the pumpkin to the food processor. Mash until puree form, add the glutinous rice flour. Blend until it form a pliable dough. If the dough is too dry, you can add in tablespoons of water to assist the binding. If you do not have a food processor, use fork to mash the pumpkin until puree, add the glutinous rice flour gradually and use hand to knead until a pliable dough.

  • For the black sesame seeds fillings, blend the roasted black sesame seeds and sugar until fine and powdery. Add the cooking oil. Blend until it form a pliable dough. If it is too dry, add more cooking oil to the black sesame fillings. Take about 8 grams of fillings, shape round and set aside. Prepare the same for all the remaining.


  • Pinch some red bean paste (about 8 grams) and shape round. Perform the same for the remaining red bean paste. Set aside.

  • Pinch about 8-10 grams of the dough, shape round, lightly press using the thumb to form a cavity, put a red bean paste ball or black sesame seeds ball on top of the dough. Wrap the dough around the filling. Seal the sides and shape round.


  • Bring a pot of water to boil. Meanwhile, get ready another pot of water mixed with ice. Place the tangyuan on the boiling water and boil until the tangyuan floats to the top (about 5 minutes). Drain and transfer to the icy water for 2 minutes. Drain and set aside. The main purpose of this step is to minimize the tangyuan from sticking to each other and preserve the texture of the tangyuan. Over cooked tangyuan can be mushy and not spongy to eat.

  • In a smaller pot, place about 1 litre of water. Add the Pandan leaves and sliced ginger and bring boil. Once boiling, let it continue simmering for about 5 minutes to bring out the flavour of ginger and Pandan. Add the sugar, stir until dissolved and off the heat.

  • For serving, have some tangyuan in a bowl and served with hot ginger syrup.



  • It is common for us to serve tangyuan with ginger syrup because glutinous rice have a tendency of producing intestinal gas and ginger have the ability to minimize such production.

  • If you do not like the ginger syrup, you can add some osthmantus flower to become osthmantus syrup. Another alternative is to eat the tangyuan without syrup and rolled over some crushed peanuts and sesame seeds.



For those who wanted a change, you can try this simple tangyuan recipe for the coming winter solstice. I also take this opportunity to wish readers a happy winter solstice festival 2014.


Hope you like the post today. Cheers and have a nice day.





Time To Celebrate Winter Solstice–Chinese Tangyuan or Glutinous Rice Balls



Winter Solstice Festival is a few days away and will fall on 22nd December 2013. On the day, most Chinese will have the habit of eating Tangyuan or glutinous rice flour balls. In my clan, it basically mean that winter had arrive, time to get ready for the arrival of a new year in the next spring. Of course, Tangyuan were also served in a number of occasions and festivals such as wedding ceremony and 15th day of the first month of Chinese New Year.


For my international readers, I would like to quote the Wikipedia’s definition of Tangyuan:

“Tāngyuán (simplified Chinese: 汤圆; traditional Chinese: 湯圓; pinyin: tāngyuán), a homophone of and frequent metaphor for family-union (simplified Chinese: 团圆; traditional Chinese: 團圓; pinyin: tuányuán) is a Chinese food made from glutinous rice flour. Glutinous rice flour is mixed with a small amount of water to form balls and is then cooked and served in boiling water. Tangyuan can be either small or large, and filled or unfilled. They are traditionally eaten during Yuanxiao, or the Lantern Festival.[1] They are also traditionally served during the Chinese Winter Solstice Festival(Chinese and Japanese: 冬至; Korean: 동지; Vietnamese: Đông chí) (Pinyin: Dōng zhì), (Rōmaji: Tōji), (Romaja:Dongji), or, any occasions of family/relatives re-union such as wedding ceremony with both the paternal and maternal family.” (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tangyuan_(food))

Very frankly, I do not know exactly what to write for this post. It is not actually a recipe as most households will know how to prepare Tangyuan. In addition, there are more and more Tangyuan sold over the counter with all types of fillings. I have decided to prepare these Tangyuan as a respect to the Chinese Traditions and as a blogger, I must at least have a post on this special Chinese cuisine.


I have resorted to the preparation of the most basic traditional Tangyuan that my mum used to prepare. Basic in the sense that there is no filling and prepare for the purposes of praying ceremony. When I was young, my mother will grind the glutinous rice grains and prepared these simple Tangyuan early in the day of the Festival for praying to the Gods in the temples. There were usually only two colours, white and red.  80% were prepared in white bigger balls whereas the remaining 20% were prepare in red smaller balls.  During praying, the bowl was full of white Tangyuan and topped with a few red smaller Tangyuan.


After the praying in the temple, my mum will prepare some sweet soup for the Tangyuan and everyone in the family were compulsory to have at least one bowl to signify you have aged for another year and time to get ready for the next year. If these Tangyuans could not be finished within one to two days, my father then cooked the savoury Tangyuan. And in this post, I will share these simple preparations of Tangyuan and you can always modify to suit  your taste buds. If you like, you can have some sweet potato Tangyuan, screw pine Tangyuan or Yam Tangyuan….If  you do not like to have sweet soup, use the dry Tangyuan and dip in Peanut powder, it will become another dessert resembling the Japanese Dessert of Mochi。

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Servings: 20-30 balls of Tangyuans


  • 1 cup of glutinous rice flour
  • 1/8 cup of tapioca starch
  • 1/2 cup of lukewarm water
  • 3 tablespoon of boiling hot water
  • Permitted food colouring (optional)

Sweet soup


  • 2 cm of ginger cut into slices
  • Some rock sugar
  • 4-5 screw pine leaves




  • In a big bowl, place the glutinous flour and tapioca starch. . Add 3 tablespoons of boiling hot water, use a spoon to gradually mix until it form some crumble. Gradually add in the lukewarm water and use your hand to knead until smooth. Remember, if it is too dry, add one teaspoon of additional water and if too wet, add one tablespoon of glutinous rice flour until the dough is consistent, soft and will not stick to your hand.


  • Divide the dough into 2 portion. Put some red permitted food colouring in one portion and knead it until even. For each portion, roll your dough into a long shape and use a knife to cut as evenly as possible at your desired size. Roll into a ball using your palm. For my case, my white balls were approximately 1.5 cm in diameter and my red ball is about 7cm in diameter.


  • In a big pot, bring some water to boil under high heat. Place your glutinous rice balls in the hot boiling water. Continue boiling until the balls floated in the water. Drain the balls and put it in some cold water. Drain and put in a dry bowl.

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  • . Perform the same for the red Tangyuan.


Preparing the Sweet Tangyuan


  • Bring a pot of water to boil. Add screw pine leaves, ginger and rock sugar. Once boiled, let it simmer for at least 15 minutes until the ginger and screw pine aroma permeates the kitchen. Add in some of the Tangyuan and let it boiled for 2-3 minutes. Best served hot as a snack or dessert after the meals when the Tangyuan is hot.


Preparing the Savoury Tangyuan

There will no picture for this savoury Tangyuan. The preparation is exactly the same as the preparation of Napa Cabbage soup. You can refer here for the recipes – Chinese Cabbage (Napa) Soup ( 大白菜汤). Put some Tangyuan in the hot boiling Chinese (Napa) Soup, boiled for 2-3 minutes and can be served as a meal replacing rice or porridges.




I was rather surprise that my kids love the savoury Tangyuan than the sweet Tangyuan. This post is a simple post and most family may know how to prepare these Tangyuan. Nothing to shout about but the intention of preparing these no filling Tangyuan in my prescribe size and colour serves as a respect to my late mum and our clan’s traditions. Hope you like the post today and have a nice day.


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