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The essence of ‘banh day’ of Dao ethnic people

TQO - ‘Banh day’ (round glutinous rice cake) is an indispensable dish in the culinary culture of Dao ethnic people in Cau Cao Hamlet, Bach XaCommune, Ham Yen District. From the fifteenth day of the eleventh lunar month to the fifteenth day of the twelfth lunar month, every household in the district makes ‘banh day’. In their belief, the cake symbolises the moon, the sun and prosperity.

Glutinous rice is selected to make the cakes since Dao people believe thatthe rice, which is cultivated in the hills and high mountain areas, can absorb the wind and dew of the mountains and forests, thus providing a distinct aroma and taste.

The mortar for mashing steamed glutinous rice is made of stone while the pestle is made of wood. According to the experience of the Dao people, the mashing process should be made as quickly as possible and it should be done when the steamed glutinous rice is still hot so that the final cake is smooth and sticky enough.

Dao people in Cau Cao Hamlet making ‘banh day’

In Cau Cao Hamlet, sugarcane is planted in almost every household for making molasses. Dao people believe that sugarcane is imbued with the sweetness of heaven and earth. Molasses is stuffed into the round glutinous rice caketo pray for a life full of happiness and peace. Therefore, the round glutinous rice cakemade by Dao people contains the pleasant savour of its crust, thenutty aroma of sesame and peanuts, and the sweet and fragrant taste of molasses.

The cakesare made manually by the skilful hands of Dao women. At the end of the year, families make ‘banh day’ as a way to review a year of hard work. It is also an occasion for the Dao people to express their gratitude to their ancestors and the earth, and to remind their children about their roots and develop a strong attachment with the village.

Giang Lam

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