The aroma of glutinous rice (nep) mixed with the spicy taste of ginger and cinnamon may make you recall a visit to Tay Phuong pagoda in Ha Tay Province, 37 kilometers from Hanoi.
Che lam stirs memories of Tay Phuong pagoda
By Thoa Nguyen in Hanoi
Che lam, specialty of - Hanoi Photo: Thoa Nguyen The aroma of glutinous rice (nep) mixed with the spicy taste of ginger and cinnamon may make you recall a visit to Tay Phuong pagoda in Ha Tay Province, 37 kilometers from Hanoi.
A traditional dish, the soft and sweet smelling che lam is purchased as a gift by many visitors to Tay Phuong pagoda. The main ingredients for this dish are glutinous rice flour (bot nep) and some other spices, such as fresh ginger, cinnamon powder, roasted nuts and malt.
In order to make the delicious che lam, carefully selected glutinous rice is roasted and stirred over a low fire, then crushed into cool and soft flour. Afterwards, the flour is cooked with either white sugar or molasses from de sugarcane (small but cloyingly sweet sugarcanes). Che lam made with de sugarcane has the fragrance of both molasses and glutinous rice flour.
The sugar or molasses has to be cooked with malt precisely otherwise che lam will turn out to be either too hard or too pasty. Glutinous rice flour, fresh ginger juice, roasted nuts and other spices are then added. This mixture is stirred and kneaded carefully, packed and finally dispensed to the stores.
The softness of glutinous rice flour, the light hot taste of ginger, the sweetness of molasses mixed with other spices are what drive people to buy che lam after a visit to Tay Phuong pagoda.