Kuih EE is a sweet made on a festival called ‘Tang Chek’. This day actually falls on Winter Solstice. When growing up in Malaysia, my mother would make this the night before. The children were then rounded up to make the balls. It was actually quite time-consuming to roll the balls in between the palms to get them even and smooth. So the more hands, the better. And mind you, we would make a lot of it as we were quite a big family – enough for the immediate family and our uncles.
After rolling the balls, it would be left overnight. In the morning my mum would complete the cooking.
Prior to the availability of rice flour, we would make our own. We would soak the rice overnight and grind it in a grindstone. This is a labour intensive process as it was done manually. It would then be sieved with a very fine sieve. Then it would be placed in a calico bag, tied up and pressed in between the grindstone to remove the water. The final result would be a paste, and it would be used immediately or on the day.
We would enjoy the time spent with my mum as she would tell us stories to keep us interested in doing the work. It is during this time she would tell us stories about the days when she was growing up. We would learned how her life was and the stories of the time when they lived during the 2nd World War.
I cherish the time spend with my family this way as I got to know more about my parents and about my roots. It was family bonding time and we would crack jokes.
Now I try to do this with my family. Sometimes my girls would help me with this and I tell them stories just like the way my Mum told us stories. Hopefully, we will keep this tradition alive.
Tank Chek is quite an important festival in the Chinese Calender. Most traditional Chinese businesses will be closed for the day. Tank Chek also signifies the coming of Chinese New Year. As kids were told that we would be a year older after eating the ee (balls). So you can imagine that we would all have our share. The roundness of the balls signifies the roundness of the coming year, ie, a smooth year.
Prior to consuming, the balls would be offered to all the gods and deities in the house. There would be a large offering of dishes as well. So this forms part of our culture – a blend of Buddhism and Taoism
Here is the recipe.
In our household, Ee is traditionally made in white and red colour. You can make it in whatever colour you like. This time, I am making white, pink and green since I have these colours on hand.
Time: 10 mins to prepare, take some time to roll
10 minutes to cook
150g Glutinous Rice Flour
200g Granulated sugar
1 Pandan Leaf – torn length-wise, and knotted
I made the balls the night before. This saves me time in the morning. If you are doing a small portion, you can make it in the morning and cook it immediately.
Prepare the dough:
- Mix the rice flour with about 150 ml of water to get a smooth, pliable dough.
- Divide into 3 portions.
- Leave one portion uncoloured ie, white.
- Add a few drops of the pink (or red) food colour to one portion and mix well. You can add as much as you like to get the intensity that you want. Set aside,
- Repeat with the other portion with green colour.
- Take one portion of the dough. Roll it and pinch small pieces to make the balls. Roll a piece between your palms to get a smooth round ball. Place on a plate. Repeat until you finish.
- Repeat with the rest of the dough. Set aside.
Prepare the syrup:
- Put the sugar, water and pandan leaf in a pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes, Remove the pandan leaf.
- Set aside.
- To cook the balls:
- Bring a pot of water to the boil. Tip in the white balls and let it boil. Once the balls float up, it is cooked and remove it with a strainer and add to the syrup.
- Repeat the process for the rest of the balls.
- Dish out and serve. And Make your children eat it!