‘Chim gau’ cake of Cao Lan people in Tuyen Quang Province

“Chim gau” (spotted dove) cake is a unique dish of the Cao Lan ethnic group in Tuyen Quang Province.

'Chim gau' cake of Cao Lan people in Tuyen Quang Province

‘Chim gau’ cake of the Cao Lan people. (Photo: baoqtuyenquang.com.vn)

The cake is not only made during the Tet holiday of the ethnic Cao Lan group but has also become a popular dish at festivals, fairs, and local markets both inside and outside the province.

The Cao Lan people call it ‘chim gau’ cake because the outer layer of the cake is made from wild pineapple leaves, which are knitted into the shape of a spotted dove, or ‘chim gau’ in Vietnamese.

They believe that the wild pineapple leaf is a medicine, thereby, it can add both fragrance taste and herbal remedy aspects to the cake.


The main ingredient of the cake is sticky rice mixed with a little salt in order to create a bold flavour. However, depending on taste and preference, some families also mix in green beans, colour the rice with magenta plant or purple rice, or soak the sticky rice with ash water. Then, they stuff the rice into the pre-woven spotted dove-shaped leaves until the rice fully fills the form. Finally, the leaves are tightly knitted shut.

During the boiling process, it is necessary to maintain the heat and keep the cake submerged under water. The cake is well cooked after 1 hour, then let drain and cut it in half to taste.

‘Chim gau’ cake is linked to the legend of the spotted dove’s motherhood. Therefore, the Cao Lan people make the cake to convey the message of the motherhood and the attachment among family members. Nhan Dan