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How to make 'banh it,' a traditional offering at death anniversaries in Vietnam?

Sunday, June 26, 2022, 16:37 GMT+7
How to make 'banh it,' a traditional offering at death anniversaries in Vietnam?
'Banh it' are ready to be steamed at Nguyen Thi Kim Lan’s house in My Ngai Commune, Cao Lanh City, Dong Thap Province, Vietnam. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News

Every year, when the fifth lunar month comes to end, Nguyen Thi Kim Lan from the Mekong Delta city of Cao Lanh busily prepares banh it (sticky rice dumplings) for her father-in-law’s death anniversary.

Making banh it to offer to deceased ancestors has been a tradition across generations in Lan’s family.

The dumpling, which can be sweet or savory, is a popular offering on remembrance days across Vietnam.

Nguyen Thi Kim Lan and her husband, Nguyen Van Phung, serve 'banh it' as an offering during their father’s death anniversary at their house at My Ngai Communes, Cao Lanh City, Dong Thap Province. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News.

Nguyen Thi Kim Lan and her husband, Nguyen Van Phung, serve 'banh it' as an offering during her father-in-law’s death anniversary at their house in My Ngai Commune, Cao Lanh City, Dong Thap Province, Vietnam. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News

'Banh it' is served as an offering during death anniversarys at Nguyen Thi Kim Lan’s family at My Ngai Communes, Cao Lanh City, Dong Thap Province. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News

'Banh it' is served as an offering during death anniversarys at Nguyen Thi Kim Lan’s family at My Ngai Communes, Cao Lanh City, Dong Thap Province, Vietnam. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News

Each piece is made of glutinous rice flour stuffed with mung beans or coconut fillings and then wrapped in banana leaves. They are later steamed to perfection.

Depending on the number of guests and relatives attending the death anniversary of her father-in-law, Lan carefully plans how many banh it to make so that everyone can enjoy the dumplings in her house and even take a few home.

This year, Lan was able to make 200 banh it with help from family members and relatives.

Family members make 'banh it' together at Lan’s house at My Ngai Communes, Cao Lanh City, Dong Thap Province. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News

Family members make 'banh it' together at Nguyen Thi Kim Lan’s house in My Ngai Commune, Cao Lanh City, Dong Thap Province, Vietnam. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News

The ingredients Lan uses to make banh it include mung beans, coconut, glutinous rice, flour, bot bang (tapioca pearls), peanuts, and seasonings.

Normally, Lan makes two types of banh it: one out of tapioca pearls stuffed with mung beans and the other out of glutinous rice stuffed with shredded coconut.

The banh it is later wrapped in two layers of banana leaves before it is steamed for over an hour.

Nguyen Thi Kim Lan takes cooked 'banh it' out of the pot. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News

Nguyen Thi Kim Lan takes cooked 'banh it' out of the pot. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News

Banh it has always been a traditional dish in our family for worshiping our ancestors,” Lan said.

“Over the past two years, we have celebrated this death anniversary with only a simple meal because COVID-19 stopped our relatives from coming.

"Now we can make banh it together.”  

Lan scorches banana leaves on fire to prepare them for 'banh it.' Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News

Nguyen Thi Kim Lan scorches banana leaves on fire to prepare them for 'banh it' wrapping. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News

The banana leaves are cut into pieces and cleaned after they are scorched. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News

The banana leaves are cut into pieces and cleaned after they have been scorched. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News

Coconut shreds are stir fried with jackfruit to make the filling for 'banh it.' Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News

Coconut shreds are stir-fried with jackfruit to make the filling for 'banh it.' Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News

Kim Van (Lan’s sister) and Thuy (Lan’s niece) shapes coconut filling into small balls. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News

Kim Van (L, Lan’s sister) and Thuy (Lan’s niece) shapes coconut fillings into small balls. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News
Boiled glutinous rice is mixed with flour to make the skin for 'banh it.' Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News
Boiled glutinous rice is mixed with flour to make the skin for 'banh it.' Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News

Filling is wrapped in glutinous rice. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News

Filling is wrapped in glutinous rice. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News

The ‘dough’ is wrapped in two layers of banana leaves and formed into a pyramid. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News

The ‘dough’ is wrapped in two layers of banana leaves and formed into a pyramid. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News

The ‘dough’ is wrapped in two layers of banana leaves and formed into a pyramid. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News

The ‘dough’ is wrapped in two layers of banana leaves and formed into a pyramid. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News

'Banh it' is ready to serve. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News

'Banh it' have been cooked and are ready to serve. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News

A piece of 'banh it' with mung bean filling. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News

A piece of 'banh it' with mung bean filling. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News

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