Photo by solong2010 / CC BY





OTHER NAMES: Jin deui, ma tuan (in N. China), ma yuan (in N.E. China), zhen dai (in Hainan), Smiling sesame-ball cookies, Smiling cookies


Sesame seeds ball is a Chinese sweet that was rolled in sesame before fry. When it is fried, the dough expands which ends up with a hollow center. It is crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. [1] Sometimes it has filling such as lotus paste, red bean paste or crushed peanuts depending on regional recipe.


Sesame ball is also called “Smiling Mouth Cookie,” which made these traditional cookies very popular during different occasions to symbolize happiness and laughter. [2] It includes Chinese New Year, birthday, or Chinese Memorial Day.


This fried sweet first appeared in the Tang Dynasty as a royalty food at the palace in Chang’an (China). That was when sugar first introduced to China from India. [5] Sesame seeds ball slowly spreads as a common snack for the Hans. Later, when many migrated to the South, they brought the recipe with them and became particularly popular there. The recipe can be found in most parts of South Asia such as Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Philippines. [3]


Eventually the recipe made it overseas through Chinese immigration, which includes United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Western Europe, Peru, Panama, and Mexico. [4] Today sesame seed balls can be found in Chinese bakeries or dim sum restaurants worldwide.



Sesame, sugar, glutinous rice flour, baking soda, hot water, oil, egg


Optional: bean paste, crushed peanut, coconut flakes

Sesame Seeds Ball with Red Bean Paste inside

Photo by lonbinder / CC BY

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