Updated: Nov 12, 2019
Exploring street food is a great way to learn about local people, their lifestyle, their culture and traditions. Even though desserts play a less important role in Chinese cuisine, it is usually the sweet delights that have a special place in people’s hearts. Memories of childhood, festivals and celebrations spent together with their families, that’s what most people think of while enjoying a bowl of sweet rice dumplings or candied fruit.
A great example of an Old Kunming style dessert is tiáo gāo ou fěn (调糕藕粉), a kind of steamed cake served with lotus pudding. It looks very elaborate, but only takes a few minutes to make.
First, sticky rice, corn and purple rice are used to make the cake. Next, lotus powder (made from ground lotus seeds) is mixed with hot water to create a gelatinous mixture, that is used as a base for tiáo gāo ou fěn. The steamed cake is then nested inside the pudding bowl and is decorated with sesame seeds, dried fruit and a drizzle of brown sugar syrup.
Nowadays only a few vendors make tiáo gāo ou fěn the traditional way. You might still spot one of them somewhere in the narrow streets of the old city centre. Don’t miss your chance to enjoy the sweet taste of Old Kunming!