Sticky rice cakes are a popular finger food among Vietnamese people. However, sticky rice cakes of Muong ethnic minority group in the mountainous district of Tan Son in the northern province of Phu Tho are special because they come with a variety of colors.
Muong people in Tan Son usually make those cakes after their glutinous rice harvest. Rice used for making the cakes comes from valleys where there is cool weather all year round while water for rice cooking is from a crystal clear stream in the forest. To color their cakes, Muong people use diff erent types of forest leaves.
Only Muong people know what leaves should be picked for coloring their sticky rice cakes because diff erent types of leave give diff erent colors including orange yellow, pink, red, light and dark purple.
After cleaning the leaves, people grind and squeeze them to get liquid which is mixed with the white sticky rice dough to make balls of different colors for steaming. They are stuff ed with chicken or mung bean pudding.
In their traditional festivals and special occasions such as wedding, these colorful sticky rice cakes are a must.
The cakes are ready for serving after being steamed for 15 minutes. According to Muong people, the round shape of the cake represents the sky and the earth while the colors are a harmony of the tree, the flower and the stream.