Chinese Dumpling Festival (Duan Wu Jie)

Assortment Of Ingredients Which Goes Into Making Chinese Dumplings (Zhongs)

Today is Chinese Dumpling Festival (Duan Wu Jie) day. It was on June 13th 2013 that I wrote a short post on the origin of the Chinese Dumpling Festival and shared some photos, does not seem that long ago at first thought thinking about it, until I start recollecting and reminiscing on some of the events that transpired between then and now, it then sinks in, time flies. Frankly speaking, when I started, I did not expect to have the stamina to be blogging until now, but when I look back at the material or content which I have documented here, I am happy I have accomplished them and learned along the way, and that keeps me going. Anyway, enough of reminiscing … and back to the lovely dumplings ….

Fried Glutinous Rice

It was two years ago Agnes last made dumplings to celebrate the occasion, so when she went about making some over the weekend, I was only too happy to take some photos to document the activity. All in, she wrapped forty dumplings within a span of 4 hours with additional work the night before preparing the ingredients; so, now you know why people these days tend to buy dumplings, and not make them – it takes a whole lot of  time and effort to make.

Salted Egg Yolks

But by making them yourself, you have full control on the quality of the ingredients which goes into a dumpling, which affects the end result significantly – the taste. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for, the higher quality the ingredients are, the better the taste ; of course, with the caveat the cook knows how to work the ingredients.

Skinned Dried Chestnuts

Dumplings can be broadly categorised into two types, sweet or savoury. Agnes tend to make the savoury type as we prefer them more. Once all the ingredients are prepared and she is ready to go, all the ingredients will be laid and arranged on the work area (our dining table) accordingly for easy reach. She will start by taking a couple of bamboo leaves and fold them to form a pocket, partially fill the pocket with fried glutinous rice, add in the accompanying ingredients which consists of a whole salted egg yolk, some dried shrimps, a couple of small dried scallops, one or two skinned dried chestnuts, a mushroom, some skinned mung beans; then top it with additional fried glutinous rice to pack all the ingredients in, complete wrapping the leaves in a manner it forms a tight ‘pyramid’ which holds all the ingredients within with no visible leaks, and tie it with a length of straw strings.

Dried Shrimps

Dried Bamboo Leaves For Wrapping (Soaked Overnight In Water To Soften)

Packing And Wrapping The Dumpling

Bunch Of Freshly Wrapped Dumplings

Cooking The Dumplings

The Delicious End Result

Once done with the tedious and labour intensive wrapping task, the dumplings are bunched together and cooked for about 20-30 mins in a pot of boiling water. Then they are ready to be savoured :). After giving away some to family and friends, we still have enough left to enjoy for a few more days … mmm … nice.  Bravo, Agnes!  and Happy Chinese Dumpling Festival to all celebrants!

All photos: Fujifilm X-E2 with XF35mm

Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri

The Suria KLCC Hari Raya Aidilfitri Decor This Year Features A Life-size Traditional Malay Kampung House

The Festival of the Breaking of the Fast, known as Hari Raya Aidilfitri in Malaysia, is a religious holiday celebrated by Muslims. Hari Raya literally means ‘celebration day’, and Hari Raya Aidilfitri is the day that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of dawn-to-sunset fasting. The Ramadan period has communal aspects to it with many of the basic values of the Muslim community, such as empathy for the poor, charity, worship, steadfastness and patience being expressed more during this period.

Hari Raya is one of the biggest holidays in Malaysia, and many Muslims (and even non-Muslims) balik kampung (return to their hometown) a couple of days earlier before the festive day to be with their families and loved ones. Trafic on the highways is generally heavy during this time, at times severely congested, as folk make their way to their hometown and and back when their holiday ends.

Hari Raya Aidilfitri sees families and friends seeking forgiveness from each other, visiting ancestors’ graves, saying prayers at the mosque and visiting relatives and friends to feast traditional Malay delicacies like ketupat, rendang, satay, lemang and curry. It is truly a joyous celebration that involves happy feasting in homes everywhere where family members greet one another with Selamat Hari Raya.

During Ramadan, decorations of kampung houses, ketupats, oil lamps and colourful lights decorate big malls, like the one in the photo above at the Suria KLCC shopping mall.

Across the country, the Ramadan month provides great food choices for those who like to sample authentic Malay food. Ramadan bazaars are set up across various neighbourhoods with a huge selection of food stalls lining the streets. Business is brisk from 5pm onwards as folk (after work hours) thronged the stalls to buy their favourite food to break fast with at about 7.30pm. It’s a delight to walk about a bazaar to enjoy the sights, smells and the hum of brisk trade.

The photos below were taken at a local neighbourhood Ramadhan bazaar yesterday evening, the final break fast on the eve of Hari Raya Aidilfitri.

Wishing all Muslims Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri (Happy Eid al-Fitr) and happy holidays.

Excerpted from

All photos Fuji X-E1 with XF 14mm and 55-200mm

The Market With A View

Business Is Brisk In The Morning At The Colourful Siti Khadijah Grand Market

The famous Siti Khadijah Grand Market in Kota Bharu is worth a visit when visiting Kota Bahru, Kelantan. Formerly known as the Buluh Kubu Grand Market, its current name was given by the Chief Minister of Kelantan, The Most Honourable Tuan Guru Dato Nik Abdul Aziz Bin Nik Mat as a sign of respect for women, considering the majority of its traders are female. One unique sight in the markets of Kelantan is its traders are mostly female, who are recognized for their entrepreneurial enthusiasm and acumen in trading. The name Siti Khadijah was chosen in honour of the wife of Prophet Muhammad who was a successful businesswoman. The market’s main building architecture is unique for a Malaysia wet market, its four-storey high construction and octagonal shape keeps it compact as well as making it ergonomically easy to access and explore, a visitor has a quick appreciation of what’s around in one sweeping panoramic view.

The potpourri of folk, colours, smells and noisy atmosphere of conversation and transaction paints a picture of a busy place with an abundance of goods being sold, which includes food, vegetables, fish, poultry, spices, clothes, kitchenware and many others. My favorite spot is the inner octagonal market hall on the ground floor where traders (mainly women) set up stalls on raised platform lots. From a vantage viewpoint on either the ground or first floor, one can see and appreciate nature’s abundance and blessing in the variety of vegetables, spices, condiments (and even turtle eggs 😦   )  available to nurture and sustain our daily lives. I just love the hall’s current paint colour scheme of deep intense colours, which complements the architecture of the building perfectly.

Open as early as 6.00am and close at 7.00pm, each morning it is the main heartbeat of Kota Bharu’s business activities, the best time to visit and experience the atmosphere of the market at its busiest when trade is at a peak.  Traders cease business for 15 minutes come prayer time, allowing them and visitors to the market to perform their prayers.

Photo Fuji X-E2 with XF 14mm