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The Comparison of Muesli and Eight Treasure Porridge

Updated on May 18, 2009

Laba porridge

In China, Laba is celebrated on the eighth day of the 12th lunar morth. On this day,a special rice porridge, Laba Porridge, is traditionally served.

Here is the typical way to make it. First, boil glutinous rice, millet, glutinous millet, chestnuts and dried dates together,then add peanuts, almonds, walnuts, melon-seed meat,other dried fruits and brown sugar to make the gruel not only delicious, but also nutritious. You may also add red beans, kidney beans, pine nuts, lotus seeds, or anything else nutritious or tasty into the pot. It's ingredients are virtually unlimited.

It is not certain who invented the Laba porridge. But It is commonly believed that the popularity of the event owes much to Buddhism. The eighth day of the 12th month of the lunar calendar is also known as the day of Buddha's attainment of Buddhahood. A ccording to a legenda, before Sakyamuni attained Buddhahood, he traveled a lot in India. One day, he was so tired and hugry that he fainted by the roadside. A shepherdess spotted him and gave her meal to him.He recovered quickly and took a bath in the river nearby and sat underneath a bodhi tree.On the eighth day of the 12th month, he attained his Buddhahood.The shepherdess meal was made of rice and glutinous rice with fresh wild fruits.Since then,Sakyamuni's followers began to use fresh grain and fruits to make a porridge on the seventh day of the 12th lunar mooth and cook until the next morning. This porridge is symbolically used to consecrate Buddha.

Laba Porridge
Laba Porridge

Eight treasure porridge

Eight treasure porridge is the special name for Laba Porridge in Shangxi Province. The main ingredient is millet, plus cowpea, red bean, mung bean, jujube,sticky yellow rice, glutinous rice. 

The eight-treasure porridge became such a holy food that emperors would offer it to their officials during festivals. As it gained favor in the feudal upper calss, it also quickly became popular throughout the country, and then developed many varieties. This recipe is from Fuchsia Dunlop's unusual breakfast dish which is the most common Variety of Eight Treasure Porridge in China. You may find it smartly packaged in tin and sold in supermarket or with instant pot noodles, dried fishes on a train food trolley. In this recipe, Fuchsia  combines exotic Chinese ingredients to make a sweet comforting porridge, cooking method as follow:

1. Soak the lotus seeds and day-lily bulbs in water overnight. 

2. Rinse all the ingredients except for the wolfberries (reserve these to add later) and place them in a large pan, along with the drained lotus seeds, day-lily bulbs and the water. 

3. Bring to the boil, skim off any scum, then simmer on a very gentle heat for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking and adding more water if necessary. You should end up with a loose, soupy porridge. 

4. Shortly before the porridge is ready, add the wolfberries and simmer for 1-2 minutes. 

5. Serve warm, with sugar or honey to taste. 

Cook's Note: Other possible additions are 10g raw barley and 10g dried foxnuts, which are occasionally found in Chinese grocers

Muesli Porridge

Muesli was developed around 1900 by Swiss physician Maximilian Bircher-Benner for patients in his hospital. Musli in its modern form became popular in western countries starting in the 1960s as part of increased interest in Health food and vegetarian diets.

Western people are sometimes called cornflake cruncher and muesli muncher. One day a Scotish pensioner made a formal complaint to BBC, because BBC reporter called Middle class Scotish people Muesli muncher. I wish you may not be offended by what I have written here. 

I travelled to London the other day, stayed in a B&B, my breakfast offered was a bowl of Muesli, and a cup of milk. I asked the owner what was that and how may I eat it? She stared at me so long as if I came from another planet, actually I just came from another part of the same earth. She realised that I was a Chinese, and asked me if I have ever eaten muesli? And then I was quite surprised to learn that I have to pour the milk into the bowl, stir it and shovel into my mouth by the spoon provided, then keep munching, munching,  munching.

You may try Muesli Porridge  as follow, What you need:

25g/1oz jumbo oats

2 tbsp Swiss style muesli

200ml/7fl oz Alpro soya Light alternative to milk

1 tsp golden caster sugar

4 strawberries, hulled and sliced

What you do:

Put the oats and muesli into a microwave-proof bowl. Pour over the Alpro soya Light and stir together.

Microwave on High 900w for 2½ minutes, stir and microwave for 30 seconds more until the oats are tender and the Alpro soya Light has absorbed. (Heat and stir through in a pan if you prefer.)

Add the golden caster sugar to sweeten, stir and top with strawberries

I tried muesli with milk once, and never again. But I like it cooked as Muesli Porridge. And after doing some research, I believe I have fully understood Muesli actually is very similar as Chinese Laba Porridge or Eight Treasure Porridge if cooked.


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      Lydia 7 years ago

      I'd have to agree with you on that. Dried muesli with milk=a harrowing experience for your inside mouth and accompanying teeth. But put it into porridge form and it's delicious!