Water caltrop, mini yam and sambal mooncake for a Malaysian mid-autumn festival(part one)

Water caltrop looks exactly like a bull’s horn. I think a bull has connotation to mid-autumn festival because of the myth related to the moon fairy. Therefore, this little black thing is much favoured as one of the special foods for mooncake festival.

Read up Wikipedia to know what exactly is water caltrop. This is the first time I bought water caltrop and my mom too never buy them before. I know they will make very interesting topic for my blog and certain looks cute in photos.

Back to the bull story, let me tell you what I know about this legend. Long ago, before Neil Armstrong step on the moon, people (well, at least some people) thought that up on the moon, there is another world where fairies live. Beautiful fairies wearing flowing, long gowns and holding magic, bushy wands float among the clouds.

One day, one of these fairies came to earth. Fairies aren’t supposed to marry human as they are immortal. But this fairy fell in love with a cowherd, Ah Niu (Ah Gu, Ah Ngau or Sang Lembu, whatever name you like to call him). Against the heavenly mother’s order, they got married. But she found out and banished the fairy to the moon to pound elixir for the rest of her life. Only a white rabbit accompanies her. Poor lonely fairy do pounding every day 24/7 with only a rabbit.
However, their love was so strong. The other fairies pleaded with the heavenly mother and finally she allowed Ah Niu to meet the moon fairy, only once a year, on the mid-autumn festival.

That’s why we eat water caltrops. Because it reminds us of Ah Niu and his faithful love. Hahaha, I am only relating what my mom used to tell us kids. Please don’t take this tale too seriously. I had watched a TVB8 series on this story too. The guy who played the hero was this old actor from the 80s TVB series. It sort of spoils the whole drama.

Beside the water caltrop, tiny yams from China are also available for this festival. Why yam? I don’t know. Maybe because by now Ah Niu is tua-tua keladi as he is human and grows old but the fairy remain young? Kehkehkeh.

Anyway, both of these are boiled till soft and eaten as snacks. I used to dip the tiny yam in sugar for taste. Coming next part….sambal mooncake….

Update : The water caltrop smells like sup kambing after I have boiled it. The texture is like chempedak seeds, boiled. Verdict – I threw everything away because of the smell.

Post Author: Lilian

Food, travel, recipes. Chinese Malaysian, blogger, photographer and writer.

3 thoughts on “Water caltrop, mini yam and sambal mooncake for a Malaysian mid-autumn festival(part one)

    earl-ku

    (October 1, 2006 - 4:31 pm)

    my mommlikes to buy those some time back … but i can never bring myself to eat it … nuts which looks like its from a bull … haha

    Erina Law

    (October 3, 2006 - 2:08 am)

    the water caltrop taste great too. For the mini yam, our family will dip it with some sauce. My mum made some sweet sauce ‘thim cheong’ and add with little water and sugar to your taste. If you like can dip with chilli sauce too.

    Sheryl Lee

    (October 4, 2006 - 9:30 am)

    Water caltrops are a must for me every mid autumn festival. For sure when this time of year comes around I will be bugging Mom to get them for me. Eating them is quite a chore, though, as you need to crack the hard shell with a hammer or pestel. No whimpy nutcracker for this tough nut.

    For people who enjoy water caltrops for fun and not use them for prayers (water caltrops is one of the offerings to the Moon Goddess along with the mini yams and a few other things), I would advise them to buy from the market after the mid autumn festival. As I mentioned before, water caltrops are used as an offering to the Moon Goddess, so after the mid autumn festival there is no more use for them. As such the leftovers are sold at really cheap prices. Try hunting around Chow Rasta Market.

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