According to Chinese traditional calendar, Chinese New Year 2011 is year of the rabbit. The New Year celebrations reflect the belief of Chinese people on gods, spirits of ancestors, legendary beings and animal spirits. Part of the festivities include the traditional lion and dragon dance, held in the streets of Chinatown as well as in some of the bigger shopping malls like Phoenix Les Halles and Le Caudan, to ward off evil spirits. Large numbers of firecrackers are also set off at midnight for the same purpose.

The other important aspect of CNY is, of course, food. Families and friends come together for big feasts. The venue usually is at the home of the most senior member of the family. CNY dinner is a very sumptuous affair and traditionally includes foods that are consumed to bring in wealth and good fortune. Noodles, chicken and fish [eaten whole], dumplings, spring rolls and mandarin oranges are typically among those that feature on the menu.

The celebration is never complete without gato lacire/nian gao, a steamed cake made from glutinous rice and brown sugar. Other sweets like gato zinzli and gato crabe are among those to be distrubed to relatives and friends. Read more about CNY food traditions on my friend Cindy’s blog where you can also find a variety of Mauritian, Indian and Chinese dishes.

Last year I celebrated CNY with Chinese Smiling Cupcakes and for 2011, I made a batch of gato zinzli along with some crisp sipek/prawn crackers. The recipe for these yummy Glutinous Rice & Sweet Potato Balls is from Ti Pomme D’amour – a food blog co-hosted by Manju, Kit, Carine, Angele and Jaimie. Thank you girls!




500 g glutinous rice flour

500 g sweet potatoes

3-4 tbs raw brown sugar

1/2 cup sesame seeds


  • Boil the sweet potatoes in a large pan of water with their skin on. Cool slightly in pan before you peel them.
  • Mash sweet potatoes until you have a thick gooey mess.


  • Add sugar and enough glutinous flour to make a dough.
  • Pinch off dough to form small walnut-size balls.
  • Roll the balls in sesame seed so that they are evenly coated.


  • Heat oil in a wok until  and deep fry until golden in colour.
  • Drain well on absorbent paper before serving. Makes 20.
  • Store in an airtight container but best eaten on same day.


Wishing all my readers luck and prosperity for the coming year!